Prince George Council denies local church request for $ 50,000

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St. Michael’s All Angel Church wants to transform its space into a multi-purpose concert hall

St. Michael’s All Angel Church is undergoing renovations and has applied to Prince George City Council for funding to help transform the church into a multi-purpose concert hall.

However, the council denied the church’s request pending a comprehensive city-wide art strategy.

Longtime members Dr Marie Hay and Dwight Wolfe attended Monday night’s meeting (October 4) to ask council for a $ 50,000 grant for 300 padded and interlocking chairs to help transform the space in a recital hall.

“Moving forward into a post-COVID decade, St. Michael is expanding and improving the use of its large space into a vibrant, safe and accessible performing arts center,” said Hay.

The church is currently used as a home for its Anglican parish, the Center for Truth and Reconciliation, social services, and a medium-sized concert hall for choirs and other performing arts.

“To achieve this goal, St. Michael’s needs to obtain 300 padded concert chairs that can be linked together, which would allow great flexibility of use in this versatile downtown space, transforming it into a bustling hub of humanity. . “

Wolfe explained that in April the church undertook a $ 650,000 renovation to its exterior envelope, including a new roof, but shortly after a severe rainstorm damaged the interior and sub -ground.

An insurance company is now restoring the interior from floor to roof for about $ 442,000, resulting in a nearly complete renovation of the facility.

“This comprehensive restoration of St. Michael has opened a golden opportunity to transform this large, well-constructed building into a multi-purpose building for the people of Prince George,” said Wolfe. “The parish of St. Michael has determined that using this space once on a Sunday morning for a church service is not good use or good management of such a beautiful structure.”

Wolfe explained that replacing the benches with chairs would allow a comfortable place of 300 seats with a total capacity of 498 people instead of 200 seats on hard benches.

“It is common knowledge that we are waiting for the arts strategy to return to the board and until we see this full artistic strategy, I hesitate to make decisions about what the arts look like in our community because we want to see it form a big picture, ”said Coun. Cori Ramsay.

“While 50,000 doesn’t seem like a lot of money, we don’t know what this grand scale will look like or how much we’ll invest in the future.”

Since St. Michael is not a civic facility, so is the county. Brian Skakun said he was concerned about the demand given that the city is only giving the Community Arts Council (CAC) $ 50,000 to operate Studio 2880, which is owned by the city.

ACE is also working on initial plans to turn Trinity Downtown (formerly Knox United Church) into a performance hall.

“We know that Knox United is applying for funding for a feasibility study to see if their building can be converted into a recital hall, but I think we’re going to be way ahead of them and we’ll be ready. . by January 2022, ”said Hay.

Nevertheless. Com. Terri McConnachie noted that the main function of the Church remains a place of worship and, as such, already enjoys tax exemptions from different levels of government.

“I think this adds to the reason the church exists and why it receives support from other levels of government,” McConnachie said. “In addition to this Con. Ramsay was very good when she explained when we’re just waiting for a plan to get together. I don’t want to get out of this right now by investing money.

Com. Kyle Sampson suggested that the church apply for funding through the city’s myPG Community Grants program, which is a funding stream designed to help local organizations develop and implement projects.

“I strongly encourage you to get in touch with the staff and see if there are any grant streams already in the City of Prince George that you could belong to,” Sampson said.

Com. Murry Krause added that he would prefer to wait until the art strategy is complete, which staff say should be available within six months.

“Me neither, I don’t want to see piecemeal support for the arts in the community and if we didn’t wait for the art strategy it could be a whole different ball game,” said Krause, who then went on to say brought forward a motion to ensure an analysis of St. Michael’s would be included in the overall artistic strategy.

“I’ve never seen a request like this in a church and it’s interesting to say the least,” said Mayor Lyn Hall.

“I know that you have done a lot of work with marginalized people living on the streets and I think if we can integrate that into our process around artistic strategy, this is the best position for you and for us to to be in, we are therefore not in a position where we fragment it. “


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