The Westbank United Church congregation is on a mission to sell their current property and relocate to a more suitable and smaller location.
“We have an elderly congregation and our numbers were going down,” says Shelley Marks, chair of the Westbank United Church’s board.
Out of the 65 church members, only 10 aren’t elderly and with the extensive repairs needed for the building, Marks thought they were in over their heads when considering redevelopment.
“Financially, the writing was on the wall as the church is getting older and the repairs were getting bigger,” she says.
“We had a consultant in looking at what we actually needed to do to the church - the roof, plumbing issues, kitchen issues. So it came to repair, sell or redevelop - those were the three things we put on the plate.”
The church went up for sale in early 2020, originally listed at 1.75 million but it is now sitting at 1.65 million.
The large for-sale sign outside of the church was recently posted in December, catching the attention of media.
Some people have expressed interest in purchasing the property but no concrete offers have been made yet.
After the property sells, the Westbank United Church will continue.
“If the church was to sell, we have the option of purchasing a new building, something smaller. We would like to stay in downtown Westbank if we could…Or renting a building and I have a feeling we would lean towards renting a building at this point.”
Marks says the church would love the opportunity to lease back the current site if the buyer was not in a hurry to demolish it or if they were holding it for redevelopment.
“It was a very hard decision. I’ve been there 33 years and a lot of the congregation who are older than me, that’s been their home church for a long time so obviously quite a few feel sad but they also understand,” says Marks.
The church located at 3672 Brown Rd remains active and in the meantime, the congregation is trying their best to meet virtually due to COVID-19 restrictions.
BC Housing has been renting a portion of the building since 2018, providing 38 beds for a transitional housing program and a temporary mat program is set to start soon.