Hundreds of churches across Canada could be converted into social purpose real estate — here’s how one foundation is making it happen
Why It Matters
Many of Canada’s 27,000 faith buildings are in danger of closing thanks to rising commercial rents, shrinking congregations, and demographic changes. Meanwhile, social impact organizations often lack affordable spaces to run community services.
Two years ago, the Quebec municipality of Sainte-Lucie-des-Laurentides, about an hour northwest of Montreal, bought the white-paneled wooden Catholic church at its centre for just a dollar. Dating back to the 1890s, this old church was built at a time when Catholicism was the cornerstone of Quebec’s civic life.
But times have changed. Sainte-Lucie mayor Francis Corbeil says he can’t recall when services were last held at the church. The architect who examined it says it also needs a fair bit of restoration work. Its original foundation was made from rocks and leaks a lot. The insulation needs to be redone. So do the windows. All of these repairs could run upwards of $2 million. “What did they do?” Corbeil asked himself when Sainte-Lucie first bought the church. “This is gonna cost a fortune.”
Nonetheless, Sainte-Lucie wants this church to act as a community
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