Challenges facing our churches

Several Leaside churches are facing costly capital renovations to upgrade and “rightsize” their sanctuaries and other buildings. They are looking at their future and considering their options, asking whether they should amalgamate with another church, or sell land for development, or fundraise so they can continue to go it alone.

In other communities options have included shared use of the site, with a hospice or social housing that would continue to fulfill a social outreach and mission, which is lacking in a market sale.

Leaside Presbyterian Church has already amalgamated with Glebe Presbyterian Church, west of Bayview (that site has now been sold), Leaside United Church has been holding a conversation with its congregation and is looking at various options including selling lots for development. And across Bayview in Davisville Village, Manor Road United Church is considering selling land, perhaps to include a public park.

These are all signs that the venerable churches of Leaside face major challenges of change. But the community clearly has an interest especially when there is talk of selling lots for development. So the community needs to be part of the decision–making. However, that comes with a quid pro quo — the community may need to be part of the financing as well. Perhaps that’s not unreasonable; after all, that was the way other institutions (like the Leaside Memorial Community Gardens arena) were updated.

Our churches are community assets that the community has benefitted from for 70 years or more. So if there is recognition of the church’s contribution in community service, community building and outreach, would there be community support for fundraising efforts directed to refurbishing and sustaining these institutions for another 70 years?

About Geoff Kettel 219 Articles
Geoff Kettel is a community connector and advocate for “making places better”. He is currently Co-President of the Leaside Residents Association, Co-Chair of the Federation of North Toronto Residents‘ Associations (FoNTRA), member of the Toronto Preservation Board and Past Chair of the North York Community Preservation Panel. He writes a monthly column on heritage and planning in Leaside Life.