The cross on the front of All Saints church may be removed by a future owner.
Although View Royal formally recognized the 56-year-old church as having heritage significance, along with St. Columba’s church, and listed it on a new heritage registry last spring, that doesn’t protect the building from being altered. It only stops it from being demolished.
The cross came into question at a Dec. 13 council meeting, in light of a religious group considering the buying of the church on the condition that the cross comes down.
Director of development services Lindsay Chase said the Town would have to create a bylaw to give the church heritage designation if it wanted a say in alterations.
“The proposed alterations are sympathetic to the original look of the building,” Chase said, explaining the arms of the cross can be removed, and, if needed replaced, without damaging the building.
The interested buyer, the Church of Christ, intends to leave in place the vertical beam of the cross, which is embedded in the steeple, and not make any alterations to the church interior.
“Just removing the (arms of the cross) would satisfy the needs of my client,” said real estate agent Gord Hoshal of Permberton Homes, who represents a Church of Christ congregation, which has outgrown its current meeting place at White Eagles Hall in Victoria.
Neil Duazo, head deacon at the church, said his denomination does not believe in displaying a cross on its churches. So, the group wanted to be sure it wouldn’t run into problems removing the cross if the purchase went through.
Council voted unanimously in support of assuring the buyer that the cross could be removed.
“This is a relatively simple question to facilitate a sale,” Coun. David Screech said. “We have no say in the issue. All we can do is reassure them we won’t get in the way.”
Duazo isn’t sure his group will go through with the purchase of the All Saints building, as it is currently considering several properties.
Last December View Royal created a new zoning category for All Saints and St. Columba’s churches to limit the permitted uses for the properties. The zone permits, for example, government offices and preschools, but removed several uses council deemed inappropriate — including public utility, public transportation centre and public works yard.
Council is not currently pursuing a bylaw for heritage designation for the churches, which were among several in the region disestablished and listed for sale by the Anglican Diocese last year.
“We weren’t going to give the churches heritage designation unless the buildings are in peril,” Screech said.