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August 7, 2020, 8:49 am

City of Delta Celebrates Purchase and Preservation of Historic St. Stephen's United Church

City of Delta
DELTA - On August 6, Mayor Harvie celebrated the City of Delta’s purchase of the historic St. Stephen’s Church in East Delta, alongside Treena Duncan, regional Executive Minister in The United Church of Canada, and Dewar Harper, a congressional member of the former St. Stephen’s Church.

St. Stephen’s United Church is a heritage building over 120 years old and is valued for its association with pioneering Delta families and the early development of the East Delta community. The first country parish church on the property was built in 1881 on land donated by the McKee Family, one of the original pioneering families in the area. Two years later, the church burned down and was replaced by the current building in 1890-91. The building has been recognized as a good example of early simple Gothic Revival vernacular church structure and was built by prominent local contractor, John B. Elliot (1857-1930).

Located at 9696 Ladner Trunk Road, the church closed in November 2019 and, prior to placing it on the market, the United Church reached out to the City to see if there was interest in acquiring this heritage site and its surrounding lands and garden. Consistent with Council’s desire to provide further community and social services’ programs in the area, and with Council’s unanimous approval, the City subsequently purchased St. Stephen’s Church for $450,000 using dedicated funding from Delta’s annual land acquisitions budget.

The City is reviewing various uses for the building and services that could be offered include:
 
  • Youth and adult drug / alcohol counselling and referral services
  • Referral services for homeless or at-risk individuals and families
  • Outdoor space for adult mental health programs or childcare and youth programs that would benefit from a community garden or physical activity space
  • Group counselling for substance use education and prevention, addiction day treatment, and multi-lingual group counselling.

The City may also engage in exploratory discussions with local service agencies and community groups regarding the potential for space sharing to assist with their programs.

“The City values the historical significance of this church and surrounding area," said Mayor George Harvie. "I’m thrilled with Council’s support for this project, helping ensure its preservation as part of our shared community heritage. This investment is also an excellent opportunity for the City to repurpose this cherished heritage site for local services and community group outreach.”

“Although it is always sad when one of our congregations closes, we are delighted that the City of Delta was willing and able to purchase this historic church and property," said Treena Duncan, Executive Minister for Pacific Mountain and Chinook Winds Regional Councils of The United Church of Canada. "The United Church of Canada has been an active part of this community for over 120 years. We are happy that this legacy will continue through the public use of this building, providing service for others for generations to come.”

While the church is in good structural condition, given its heritage and age, the City is considering necessary renovations and restoration work to ensure the building is safe for its intended uses. Any such modifications to the church will follow the City’s adopted standards of maintenance for heritage buildings to ensure its preservation.  Although the building is located on Delta’s Heritage Register, this alone would not have automatically protected the building from demolition, if the property had been purchased by a private owner. The City of Delta’s acquisition of this historic property ensures that it will be preserved and maintained while gaining a useful space for community services and programming.

For more information on this news release, contact the Mayor’s Office at 604-946-3210 or e-mail MayorHarvie@delta.ca.


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