Church to sell its option to move

Published December 1, 2006

Mississauga, Ont.
General Synod, the church’s national office, will not exercise an option to move the Anglican Book Centre back into a new building on the site of its old offices on Toronto’s Jarvis Street. The decision will result in a cash windfall for national church coffers.

The Council of General Synod (CoGS), at its fall meeting, approved a recommendation authorizing the General Synod management team to negotiate a “cash option” on its remaining piece of real estate at 600 Jarvis St., a move that would help bridge a projected operating deficit of $476,712 for the 2007 budget.

At the same time, CoGS approved a budget that anticipates revenues of $9.4 million and expenditures of $9.8 million. The budget is 5 per cent less than the previous year’s budget.

General Synod treasurer Peter Blachford said the Jarvis Street property would bring in $425,000. The remaining deficit would be offset by expected recoveries from the government of legal and administrative expenditures incurred by the church with respect to native residential schools, according to a report from the national financial management and development committee.

Although approved by a majority, some CoGS members were concerned about the motion to take a cash payout for a portion (retail and parking) of the Jarvis Street property, once the developer completes the construction of a new condominium tower there. (In 2002, General Synod sold its old office building at 600 Jarvis St. to Philmor Ltd, a Toronto-based developer. General Synod acquired office space at the developer’s neighbouring property on 80 Hayden St. The financial committee said in its report that this retail space was no longer necessary, given the recommendation to shut down the storefront operations of the book centre. (See related story, p. 1.)

“It troubles me that we’re using capital asset to fund ongoing operations,” said Don Thompson, of the diocese of Yukon.

“I’m sympathetic, but we’re close to living beyond our means,” said Canon Robert Falby of Toronto.

“My fear is that it disguises what is a deficit budget. If we’re honest with our numbers, we can present the problems more strongly to the next CoGS and live within our means,” said Canon James Robinson, of the diocese of Calgary. “And so, with real sadness I’m voting against it.”

Archbishop Caleb Lawrence of the diocese of Moosonee voted in favour of the motion saying there was no other option. “It’s a painful decision to do so. But our backs are to the wall. We have no alternative,” he said. “The only other option is to go back and cut the budget again.”

Dean Peter Elliot, General Synod prolocutor, expressed support for the motion, saying that some developments, including the new Indian Residential Schools Settlement Agreement and proposed changes to the church’s governance structure, could soon bring back resources to General Synod.

“Do we want property or ministry?” asked Sue Moxley, suffragan (assistant) bishop of the diocese of Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island. “There’s a sentiment to hang on to this asset for a rainy day. I think it’s raining.”

A motion put forward by Canon John Steele, of the diocese of British Columbia, to ask dioceses to increase their 2006 proportional giving by 5 per cent as a way of closing the deficit was defeated. Opponents of the motion called it “unrealistic,” while others stated that dioceses have already drawn up their budgets and “have no room to manoeuvre.”

CoGS did not act on a recommendation from the financial committee that the national church no longer include unspecified bequests (funds willed to General Synod) in future budgets. In an earlier action, CoGS approved a motion to use unspecified bequests, if needed, to fund the Letting Down the Nets program by $200,000. Those funds would be the second bailout for the program, which was intended to be self-funding. (Please see related story, p 1.)

Earlier, Monica Patten, chair of the financial committee, said removing undesignated bequests from budget projections reflected a desire “to practise truth in numbers.”

Under the 2007 budget, General Synod expenditures were reduced by $236,000 or two per cent.

It also:

  • Reduced the budget of the partnerships department by $467,873 to set up a separate budget relating to indigenous ministries, including the establishment of the office of a new national indigenous bishop;
  • Further reduced the budget of partnerships by $285,000 through staff restructuring and program realignment. Its total budget now stands at $1.9 million.
  • Retained the 2006 funding levels for the Council of the North ($2.3 million), and Anglican Journal ($584,738)
  • Increased the budget of the primate’s office by $18,000 to increase the honorarium of the bishop ordinary to the armed forces. Its budget was set at $392,900.
  • Increased the budget of the house of bishops by $25,000 to fund the bishops and spouses meeting in 2007. Its total budget is $160,400.
  • Decreased the budget of the Communications and Information Resources department by $102,000 due to unfilled positions, ceasing publication of MinistryMatters magazine and other reductions in expenses.
  • Increased the budget for General Synod 2007 by $20,000 in response to a motion approved by CoGS last spring to assist some of the Council of the North delegates in defraying expenses for the meeting.
  • Increased the budget for financial management and development by $81,000 due to expected increases in realty tax and increase in depreciation ($60,000) now that General Synod owns its property 80 Hayden. Its budget allocation is $2 million.


  • Marites N. Sison

    Marites (Tess) Sison was editor of the Anglican Journal from August 2014 to July 2018, and senior staff writer from December 2003 to July 2014. An award-winning journalist, she has more that three decades of professional journalism experience in Canada and overseas. She has contributed to The Toronto Star and CBC Radio, and worked as a stringer for The New York Times.

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