Former Billings church building can now be used for various events

St. Paul's United Church in Kagawong

KAGAWONG—The former St. Paul’s On the Hill United Church, located in Billings Township, will be available for rent by users, on a seasonal basis.

“We have all seen the letter (forwarded by a couple of local residents) and a resolution from the economic development committee,” Billings Councillor Sharon Alkenbrack told council at their regular council meeting last week.

It was pointed out the Billings Economic Development committee has proposed a seasonal usage of the United Church. Brad MacKay and Jamie Ward have volunteered to renovate the building to make it rentable while maintaining the historical integrity of the building and all rental inquiries will go through (municipal Clerk) Kathy (McDonald) in the municipal office.   

“The (church) building is in excellent condition,” stated Billings Mayor Austin Hunt, pointing out the building is the oldest building in the township, established in 1883.

Councillor Alkenbrack said, “the committee proposed that events would go through the town office, similar to people renting out the Park Centre for events.”

The church would be a nice setting for a wedding, said Councillor Nora Bath-Haring.

The latter is one of the things the township would like to promote, to have a package set up where a couple would have their wedding ceremony at the former church, take photographs at Bridal Veil Falls, and then hold the wedding reception at the Park Centre. However, the building can be used for all type of events.

As reported previously, council and the economic development committee had reviewed a letter from  Jamie Ward, who brought forward a proposal for council to consider.

Mr. Ward in his letter to council 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 its current setup 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. The cost to the township and it’s taxpaying base would be  minimal as a compost toilet or portable toilet would be the only provision needed for such activities.”

“My priority thought is that the building can be used for anything in the community that honours this historic, beautiful building,” Mr. Ward wrote. “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 also to attract visitors here.”

Council at its meeting last week passed a motion stating, “whereas, the economic development (committee) has proposed a seasonal usage of the United Church. And whereas, Brad MacKay and Jamie Ward have volunteered to renovate the building to make it rentable while maintaining the historic integrity of the building; and whereas the Economic Development Committee suggest that the building should be rented for $100 per day. Now, therefore be it resolved that council approves the recommendations of the EDC and that the volunteers report to Kathy McDonald regarding the work and removal of any items from the building.”