A referendum ballot on the old St. Philip’s church can’t go ahead, Portugal Cove-St. Philip’s town clerk Judy Squires has told council and candidates.
The town sought advice from the Department of Municipal Affairs, which interpreted a referendum as being the same as a “plebiscite” requiring a two-thirds majority, which means approval of five out of seven councillors.
The motion for a referendum was passed Tuesday with only four votes in favour which does not meet the requirements for a plebiscite.
Squires told council that because of the requirement, the motion failed so there can’t be a referendum ballot.
The old church, built in 1894, has been a centre of controversy in the town for several years. The Anglican diocese wants to tear down the building, but the Town of Portugal Cove-St. Philip’s has passed motions to have it preserved due to its heritage.
In March 2010, the issue made national headlines when an unknown person, or persons, sawed through the church’s steeple, sending it toppling to the ground, where it remains.