Dio­cese on board with plan to re­pur­pose Har­bour Grace church


The bishop for the Ro­man Catholic Dio­cese of Grand Falls is on board with an ad­vi­sory com­mit­tee’s rec­om­men­da­tions for the fu­ture of a for­mer church in Har­bour Grace.

It’s been more than two years since the dio­cese ac­cepted the lo­cal par­ish coun­cil’s rec­om­men­da­tion to shut­ter and de­con­se­crate Im­mac­u­late Con­cep­tion Church. A Reg­is­tered Her­itage Struc­ture, the build­ing re­quires sig­nif­i­cant re­pairs ex­pected to cost mil­lions of dol­lars.

Shortly af­ter the de­ci­sion was made of­fi­cial, Bishop An­thony Daniels es­tab­lished an ad­vi­sory com­mit­tee to in­ves­ti­gate ways to pre­serve the for­mer church in Har­bour Grace and iden­tify op­tions for re­pur­pos­ing it.

Fol­low­ing some pub­lic con­sul­ta­tion work, the com­mit­tee set­tled on a rec­om­men­da­tion that will make the 124-year-old struc­ture pub­li­cally ac­ces­si­ble. Ac­cord­ing to a news re­lease from the com­mit­tee, the goal will be to “meet a wide range of com­mu­nity, so­cial, cul­tural and eco­nomic needs while at the A plan is in place to give the for­mer Im­mac­u­late Con­cep­tion Church a new lease on life. The his­toric Har­bour Grace cathe­dral closed in 2014. same time pro­vid­ing a va­ri­ety of rev­enue streams to sup­port its on­go­ing op­er­a­tion and main­te­nance.”

Those po­ten­tial re­use op­tions are in­deed var­ied.

“I think the idea is you’d want a re­ally flex­i­ble space that you can re­con­fig­ure to do a bunch of dif­fer­ent things,” said Jerry Dick, ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor of the Her­itage Foun­da­tion of New­found­land and Labrador and one of the com­mit­tee’s mem­bers.

The for­mer church could be rented for wed­dings, con­fer­ences, meet­ings or work­shops. It could also host food and craft mar­kets. It may prove use­ful for com­mu­nity health and well­ness as a venue for fit­ness groups. Events pro­mot­ing mu­sic, vis­ual art and other cul­tural ac­tiv­i­ties may also hap­pen in­side the build­ing.

While the com­mit­tee’s work largely fo­cused on what to do in­side the church, Dick said the con­sul­ta­tion process iden­ti­fied in­ter­est­ing ideas for the church grounds. Or­na­men­tal gar­dens will likely be set up to serve as an ap­pro­pri­ate back­drop for wed­ding photos, but space could also be re­served for a com­mu­nity gar­den.

The stone church was built in a gothic cathe­dral style. It’s con­sid­ered an iconic struc­ture in the com­mu­nity and one of sev­eral no­table her­itage build­ings in Har­bour Grace.

See­ing this idea through to fruition will re­port­edly en­tail work­ing with com­mu­nity mem­bers, lo­cal mu­nic­i­pal lead­ers and agen­cies in higher lev­els of gov­ern­ment. In the re­lease, Daniels said the dio­cese and the ad­vi­sory com­mit­tee would re­main in­volved in that work mov­ing for­ward.

The com­mit­tee, in ad­di­tion to con­sult­ing the pub­lic through a fo­cus group ses­sion and on­line sur­vey, looked at case stud­ies of suc­cess­ful adap­tive re­use ven­tures in­volv­ing her­itage church build­ings.

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