Community groups and local elected officials have announced the launch of a new “leaders table” to shape the future of St. Brigid’s church in Ottawa’s Lowertown neighbourhood.
The historic church on St. Patrick’s Street remains on the market for $5.95 million after a deal to sell the church to “The United People of Canada” fell through in August. Last month, an Ontario Superior Court Justice evicted the group from the church.
Coun. Mathieu Fleury announced the creation of a leaders table for the future of the church, comprising of the Lowertown Community Association, Heritage Ottawa, MPP Lucille Collard and Treasury Board President Mona Fortier.
“All community stakeholders are committed to supporting the protection and transfer of the property to a new vision while protecting the historic site,” said Fleury in a letter on his website.
“The community leaders table is forming as the property is in dire need of a renewed vision. Our group’s objective is to retain the historic site while working with the city to modernize the heritage consideration to ensure effective adaptive activation for the property,” Fleury said.
“We recognize that this landmark asset is best served by remaining publicly accessible while updating the property and meeting today’s accessibility and space requirements.”
Fleury’s letter notes several churches across Ottawa have been transformed into spaces for various uses that work well with “today’s needs”, including All Saints on Laurier Avenue and Dominion-Chalmers Church on Cooper Street.
“With the historic location, public partners, and private sector investors, we are optimistic that we can build on the legacy of the Ottawa Irish Community and ensure St. Brigid’s finds a renewed purpose and financial sustainability for years to come,” Fleury writes.
Horizon Ottawa, with support of the Lowertown Community Association, launched a petition in August calling on the city of Ottawa to step in to facilitate local ownership of the church. The petition was launched after “The United People of Ottawa”, a group with ties to the ‘Freedom Convoy’, said it had a deal to purchase the church.
The owner of St. Brigid’s moved to evict TUPOC in mid-August, saying the group failed to make $100,000 payments as part of a conditional sale of the church and had unpaid rent.
Members of the Ottawa Irish community purchased St. Brigid’s church in 2007 to establish Saint Brigid’s Centre for the Arts, home of the National Irish Canadian Cultural Centre, according to the Saint Brigid’s Centre website. One of the owners is Patrick McDonald.
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