Church injunction set over

Steve
Steve Bartlett
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A Supreme Court justice has set over the Town of Portugal Cove-St. Philip's request for an interim injunction to protect an old Anglican Church.

Instead, Judge Carl Thompson ordered lawyers for the town, the parish and the Diocesan Synod of Eastern Newfoundland and Labrador to try and come up with an interim solution amongst themselves.

Winston Fiander, vice president of The Church by the Sea, Inc. in the Town of Portugal Cove-St. Philip's, removes the rope that was cut from inside the church steeple of the former St. Philip's Anglican Church on Coadys Road as the damaged steeple lay on

A Supreme Court justice has set over the Town of Portugal Cove-St. Philip's request for an interim injunction to protect an old Anglican Church.

Instead, Judge Carl Thompson ordered lawyers for the town, the parish and the Diocesan Synod of Eastern Newfoundland and Labrador to try and come up with an interim solution amongst themselves.

He wants to know by April 15 whether or not they have reached a consensus.

If not, Thompson is expected to set a time to hear arguments for and against the injunction.

The steeple was torn off the church just after 8 a.m. March 31, the morning after council voted to reject the parish's application to demolish the 116-year-old church.

The building had been vacant for years. The parish wanted to tear it town and expand its graveyard.

The identity of those who toppled the steeple remains unknown and the town has offered a $500 reward for information leading to their identity.

The steeple incident outraged people in the community and made national news.

The building was declared a municipal heritage structure in an emergency council meeting the day it happened.

Citing the Municipalities Act, the town argues that decision puts the onus on the owners to preserve the structure. It applied for the temporary injunction April 6, naming the parish as the first defendant and the diocese as the second defendant.

The order asked that the defendants cease and desist actions or applications that would further damage or the demolish the church and steeple.

It requested they preserve those structures, and that the parish and diocese consider proposals pertaining to the preservation of the church as a heritage property.

One group, Church by the Sea Inc., has a proposal to turn the building into a museum.

In Courtroom 7 Friday morning, John Dawson, lawyer for the town, argued there was an urgency to get the injunction in place out of the fear vandals would strike again.

He said it needs to be protected and preserved.

Lawyers for the parish and diocese disagreed with the need for the injunction.

Kevin Stamp, representing the diocese, was concerned part of the town's statement of claim seemed to imply the diocese was involved in ripping the steeple down.

He called it disgraceful and said the town officials who signed off on it should be ashamed.

Stamp said his client does not know who did it, adding it could have been someone who supported the Church by the Sea group.

He noted there is already an order protecting the building - the heritage designation.

The lawyers for the defendants were also unhappy with the town's urgency and said they never had enough time to work on their arguments.

Robert Pittman, who represented the parish, noted that the town hasn't provided his client with proper notices of its decisions, thus hindering the appeal process.

The diocese issued a release late Friday afternoon saying it remains concerned about the dispute and the impact on the community, the clergy and parishioners of the church.

As a result of the injunction, it said the diocese and parish are not prepared to debate the merits of the injunction and the conflicting views through the media.

"In the meantime, the parish and diocese remain optimistic for a speedy resolution of the issues in the dispute."

The town's interim injunction was meant to be in place until the rights of the parish and diocese were determined.

On the courthouse steps after the matter was heard, Winston Fiander of the Church by the Sea group said he'd rather it had been settled.

He said his group hoped church authorities would "wake up and hand over responsibility - not ownership - for the church to us, so that we can get on with the things that need to be done to set it up as a heritage property."

Fiander said the steeple incident has increased support for the old church "many fold."

sbartlett@thetelegram.com

Organizations: Supreme Court, Anglican Church

Geographic location: Eastern Newfoundland and Labrador

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Recent comments

  • Jack
    July 02, 2010 - 13:15

    Toppling the steeple was a good start unless the do gooders want to buy the thing and move it off church property I am thinking its just as well gone

  • The saga
    July 02, 2010 - 13:12

    The Eye in The Sky knows all about what's going on.....but He's not sayin'!
    Thompson ordered lawyers for the town, the parish and the Diocesan Synod of Eastern Newfoundland and Labrador to try and come up with an interim solution amongst themselves. --- Pontius Pilate

  • Political Watcher
    July 02, 2010 - 13:12

    A couple of weeks and still no one writing a cheque. If the group were so bent on saving the old church then pony up the cash and move on otherwise, step aside and allow the OWNERS to do what was originall planned to do.
    Furthermore, the Heritage designation is a Municipal one and has no teth. it is a goodwill gesture only and does not bnind the owners to anything. Besides, isn't that vinyl sidind on this Heritage structure.

  • rgg
    July 02, 2010 - 13:11

    Who do they think will pay the huge costs of upkeep, taxes, and insurances on this old wooden structure? I really wish people would start thinking with their heads and leave the sentimental crap behind. Get rid of this old building before it starts falling apart and hurts/kills someone. There is a new church for these people yet they are so greedy they want two.

  • Jack
    July 01, 2010 - 19:55

    Toppling the steeple was a good start unless the do gooders want to buy the thing and move it off church property I am thinking its just as well gone

  • The saga
    July 01, 2010 - 19:50

    The Eye in The Sky knows all about what's going on.....but He's not sayin'!
    Thompson ordered lawyers for the town, the parish and the Diocesan Synod of Eastern Newfoundland and Labrador to try and come up with an interim solution amongst themselves. --- Pontius Pilate

  • Political Watcher
    July 01, 2010 - 19:49

    A couple of weeks and still no one writing a cheque. If the group were so bent on saving the old church then pony up the cash and move on otherwise, step aside and allow the OWNERS to do what was originall planned to do.
    Furthermore, the Heritage designation is a Municipal one and has no teth. it is a goodwill gesture only and does not bnind the owners to anything. Besides, isn't that vinyl sidind on this Heritage structure.

  • rgg
    July 01, 2010 - 19:48

    Who do they think will pay the huge costs of upkeep, taxes, and insurances on this old wooden structure? I really wish people would start thinking with their heads and leave the sentimental crap behind. Get rid of this old building before it starts falling apart and hurts/kills someone. There is a new church for these people yet they are so greedy they want two.