It only took minutes, but a historical change took place in the City of Trail this week.
The Church of St. Anthony of Padua – known simply as St. Anthony’s since 1938 – is officially no more.
Trail council took first steps to wipe the Catholic church’s property tax exemption from city books Tuesday night, now that the Gulch site has been sold for use other than worship.
“We are aware of the sale from the Catholic church diocese to private owners, for redevelopment, is occurring,” explained Corporate Administrator Michelle McIsaac. “So it’s now timely for council to take steps to amend that bylaw.”
The new owner, Bernard Mitchell of Wewerke Design, accepted a conditional offer late last year. He approached council in November to request the property be re-zoned to allow renovation of the main chapel and mezzanine into a living and office space. After the Christmas break, council enacted the change and the sale advanced.
Mitchell and his partner Krista Humphrey are a young Canadian design team currently based in Crescent Valley.
He says they are aiming to take possession by the end of the month, and excited to be joining the Trail community.
“And we have had a lot of people tell us about the weddings and other memories in St. Anthony’s,” Mitchell shared.
For Trail Coun. Eleanor Gattafoni Robinson, the sale is bittersweet.
She was baptized, received First Communion, Confirmation and most importantly, her brother Father Stephen Gattafoni was ordained a Franciscan priest in St. Anthony’s back in 1961.
“We are one of many, many families to have the privilege to be connected to the church,” Gattafoni Robinson said. “It’s unfortunate the Catholic community is not what it used to be, and change is tough.
“But for me, personally, I’m grateful that something is going in there rather than it sitting there deteriorating,” she added.
“It’s sad to see that part of history removed, and we’ll never forget it, but I am happy that it’s been purchased and will be used to the fullest. It’s all good, and now we move on.”
An interested resident attended the council meeting to inquire about the church’s tax exemption to date. He suggested the exemption should have been removed once the property was vacated and put on the market.
McIsaac acknowledged the man’s point, but clarified that selling a property doesn’t change use of property.
“Despite the fact that St. Anthony’s hasn’t been active in use, it is (was) still a building set aside for public worship,” she explained. “So depending upon the sale, had it been to another religious organization that had taken it over for worship, that statutory exemption would have continued,” McIsaac added.
“So the period of time for when the property was listed for sale, that use continues, despite the fact that it was not being actively used by church.”