Billings Township receives final approval for ownership of former United Church

Old Church on the Hill in Kagawong

KAGAWONG—Just a few days after Billings council has taken over ownership of the former St. Paul’s On the Hill United Church, a local resident has brought forward creative options for township council to consider how the building will be used in the future. 

“We officially received word last Friday that we now own the church,” Billings Clerk Kathy McDonald told council Monday.

At the meeting, council reviewed a letter from local resident Jamie Ward, who brought forward a proposal for council to consider.

“I read your letter and I think the suggestions are excellent,” stated Councillor Sharon Alkenbrack.

Mr. Ward in his letter to council had wrote, “in regards to the township’s recent purchase of the United Church I am inquiring about and also proposing possible uses in order to repurpose one of Kagawong’s oldest historical buildings. Although the township already has a community hall with the Park Centre, I feel the United Church could serve to host a  multitude of events due to it’s current set–up and superior acoustics not to mention the charm of the buildings history.”

Mr. Ward explained, “these events could be as varied as musical acts, recreating a small movie theatre, public talks, museum related events, theatre and even a place to hold non-denomination marriages to name a few. The cost to the township and its taxpaying base would be  minimal as a compost toilet or portable toilet would be the only provision needed for such activities.”

“As far as the managing of the building and events, may I suggest a new board to be created,” continued Mr. Ward. “One that’s main purpose is to promote Kagawong’s cultural offerings, not to just engage our own community but also the population of the entire island and beyond. I can attest personally from the many travellers I have met that the outsider’s view of Kagawong is a hub for creativity. I also firmly believe that there is an audience out there that would appreciate such events, not just for the tourist season but even more so in the shoulder season.”

“There can be benefits for the township both financial and for the quality of life for those who live here,” added Mr. Ward.

“My priority though is that the building can be used for anything in the community that honours this historic, beautiful building,” Mr. Ward told council. “It is a precious resource for the township.” He also told council he had visited the church and said the acoustics are very good in the building. “I can see it being used for events like movie  nights. And it could be used not only by local residents but it could be used to attract visitors here.”

Councillor Brian Parker said since council had only received official notification that it has ownership of the building for a few days it has not had the opportunity to look at concrete alternatives for the building.

Councillor Barb Erskine said creating more cultural activities in the community came up as part of the township  strategic plan to develop.

“One of the  suggestions I have made is that the building could be used for guest speakers to make presentations in the building,” said Mr. Ward. “It could be a  good, cozy venue for a  lot of events,” said Mr. Ward.

Councillor  Erskine said council could consider having a committee of representatives of other committees look at the proposal that has been made and others, and make suggestions to council before it makes a final decision on what the  building will be used for in the future.