The town council of Portugal Cove-St. Philip’s may have voted last week to allow St. Philip’s Anglican Church to demolish its former church building, but two appeals brought before council in the wake of the decision have ensured that the story is not over yet.
The separate appeals, brought forward by the daughter of parishioners from St. Philip’s and by Church by the Sea, Inc., a charity dedicated to saving the building, challenged the parish’s decision to have its former church building, which has stood prominently in the town of Portugal Cove-St. Philip’s since 1895, demolished. The diocese of Eastern Newfoundland and Labrador has confirmed that the demolition is on hold pending a municipal appeals board review.
The question of what is to be done with the building has inspired strong feelings and often bitter divisions since the parish applied for a permit to take down the building in 2009. The parish has argued that the building is a drain on resources and has outlived its use, while many in the community have argued that it deserves to be preserved for its historical significance.
While it is not yet clear whether the appeals will be upheld by town council, Steven Sharpe, president of Church by the Sea’s board of directors, told the Anglican Journal that “the town, as well as the diocese, has been advised that the demolition permit is on hold.” As for what this will mean for the building in the long run? “We’ll see how that proceeds,” said Sharpe.