A historic chapel in Brentwood Bay offering views of the Saanich Inlet is moving to the opposite shore.
Council voted 5-1, with only Coun. Zeb King opposed, to rescind first reading of a bylaw designating the former Brentwood Anglican Chapel at 788 Sea Dr. a heritage building.
Council’s decision came after church owner David Mackenzie registered a covenant on title outlining conditions for its deconstruction (or unbuilding), and the installation of a commemorative plaque as part of moving the church – albeit in pieces – to Brentwood College in Mill Bay.
The 1926-built chapel was the lone survivor of a 1947 fire that destroyed the then-campus of Brentwood College prior to its move across the inlet.
Council initially moved ahead with heritage designation because it had limited tools to address the issue, explained Mayor Ryan Windsor. It is now satisfied the deconstruction and ultimate relocation of the building, coupled with the historical recognition, is moving ahead, he said.
“It’s a meaningful building that means a lot to people, but at that site, I’m not sure what use it would have,” he said. “That is what everyone was struggling with.”
Council placed the historic church under temporary protection in April 2021, after receiving a demolition permit application from Mackenzie. Council then moved to the more formal heritage designation process, which bought both sides time to find a solution.
Given that Central Saanich has a limited number of heritage buildings, King was led to vote against the motion.
“I believe it is important to preserve heritage and the building is an example of that,” he said.
The covenant requires Mackenzie to document the various components of the church for what it calls “future reconstruction,” without giving a specific timeline.
Prior to the vote district staff said the necessary demolition permit would be issued within a few days, adding the installation of the plaque depends on the demolition timeline. Because deconstruction will see crews catalogue various items, it may take longer than usual, staff said.
The term demolition permit is poorly named within this context, Windsor said, as the owner plans to preserve components of the church.
The pending loss of the chapel comes after council last year issued demolition permits for two historic Woodwynn farm buildings to the Tsartlip First Nation. It had assumed possession of the former farm in late December 2020.
Tsartlip officials said they would have liked to keep the buildings had they not been unsafe. But the First Nation explored all options and determined the best course was to remove the barns. It also promised to salvage as much of the wood as possible for future use and document the work done onsite for historical reference.
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