Former historic Brockville church slated for demolition
Joanne Schnurr, CTV Ottawa
Published Tuesday, June 17, 2014 4:29PM EDT
Last Updated Tuesday, June 17, 2014 7:34PM EDT
Some of our most sacred places have become targets for thieves. A former church in Brockville, a stately landmark in the city, faces demolition after its most prized features were stolen. Now the current owners of the church, RGB Group in Ottawa and other business owners, who plan to build condos on the adjoining land, say they have no choice but to tear the 137-year-old structure down. The Trinity Anglican Church has proudly stood in the heart of historic Brockville since 1877. But it has certainly seen better days. Cathy TeKamp remembers those days well. She sang in the church choir as a child.
"We were married in this church in 1969,” says TeKamp, as she walks around the old structure, “and our children were baptized and confirmed here.”
The church closed years ago. The current owners, RGB Group, will build an 11-storey 94-unit condominium on the land beside the church but have been trying for three years to find a buyer for the church so it could be preserved.
“The pulpit is gone, there was wood through here,” says Lyn Varma, a partner with RGB Group as she tours through the old church with CTV News.
The developers say they discovered that thieves had broken into the church at some point over the winter and damaged the interior, stealing two large bronze bells from the tower. Two of the other bells were in the process of being chopped up.
Rolf Baumann is the President of RGB Group, “With the damage and theft of bells, it's come to point where we can't carry forward with trying to do something with the building.”
It's because of this damage that that developers have applied to tear down the 137-year-old church. Brockville Police are investigating the vandalism and theft.
"I'd have to say it's the first time in my 23 years I've seen this with church bells,” says Acting Police Chief Scott Fraser with the Brockville Police, “but we do presentations now that churches used to always be a sacred place, but with crime trends now, everybody's a victim. It's unfortunate."
Members of Brockville's Heritage committee are devastated. So, too, is Cathy TeKemp.
"Very sad to hear that,” says DeKamp, “torn down would be a tragedy for sure. There must be some usage for it.”
Baumann says there doesn't appear to be a use for the old church but hopes there is a use for the land on which it sits. The demolition still needs the approval of the city of Brockville.