Congressional Survey

Good morning, my name is Paul Webster, and I am Past Chair of the St. Andrews River Heights United Church Council.

I would like to give you an update regarding the Property and Administration Committee’s work regarding a recent assessment of the condition of the various systems within the Church buildings.

As a background, in 1915, the original St. Andrews was built on this site, but it burned down two months after opening. A second church was built on Oak Street in 1916, with tennis courts in summer and skating rinks in winter at the corner of Oak and Kingsway. In 1929 a large sanctuary was built on that site, and a Christian Education building was erected on the north side. Over the subsequent years a building fund was accumulated and ultimately, in 1950, was used to build the Sanctuary we know today. This Sanctuary was built on the old foundation and basement which dated back to 1929. And finally, in 1955, the current Christian Education building was erected.

The Property & Administration Committee decided that, due the advanced age of the buildings, and the ever increasing level of maintenance required, engineering consultants should be hired to come in and conduct assessments, including costing, outlining the changes and replacements needed to upgrade our facilities in order for us to worship here for many years to come. These studies included the heating, electrical, plumbing and roofing components of our facilities. In order to do so, the Property & Administration Committee secured a $10,000 grant from the Winnipeg Foundation to fund the Consultant’s assessments.

Nova 3 Engineering firm was engaged to review the heating, electrical, and plumbing components, while M.J. Roofing prepared a proposal to repair or replace certain roofs. Nova 3 evaluated the current condition of our systems, as well as the estimated remaining useful life in them. Their overall comment was that the various systems appear to have been well maintained over time.

The assessment reports outline, in their opinion, what upgrades need to be carried out. They also included very preliminary, high level cost estimates to carry out their recommendations. These initial cost estimates are significant and are well beyond the Church’s current financial capabilities. Further, we are advised that should work proceed, many new issues could arise, such as asbestos removal problems and upgrades to meet current building code standards, adding further unbudgeted costs.

We believe that there are different avenues that could be explored including:

•             continuing with the status quo – continue to carry out routine preventive maintenance and repairing things as required on an on-going basis, but addressing the most pressing and urgent deficiencies immediately;

•             Raise the necessary funds through a) conducting a major internal fundraising program and b) applying to various charitable foundations, the United Church of Canada and other philanthropic endeavours for capital dollars;

•             Consider amalgamation with other church(es) in the neighbourhood.

You are asked to complete this survey on the future of our church and one of the questions deals with this building’s condition issue. I request that you think carefully about this and let us know if you have any questions for us.

Your responses will form the basis of the discussions at our Vision and Strategic Planning session which will take place early in November.

I thank you in advance for your thoughts and concerns.