Transcript: Church Conversions | Sep 17, 2018

Jeyan stands in the studio. He's is in his thirties, with short black hair and a trimmed beard. He's wearing a gray suit, white shirt, and floral print tie.

A wall screen behind him reads "Ontario Hubs. Church conversions."

Jeyan says IT'S NO SECRET THAT
SOME CHURCHES IN CANADA
INCLUDING RIGHT HERE IN ONTARIO
ARE FACING TOUGH TIMES KEEPING
THEIR DOORS OPEN.
AS CONGREGATIONS SHRINK AND THE
COST OF REPAIRS MOUNT, MANY
CHURCHES ARE LOOKING TO
DOWNSIZE.
AND SOMETIMES SELL THEIR
BUILDINGS OUTRIGHT.
IN CITIES LIKE TORONTO, IT'S
COMMON TO SEE CHURCHES CONVERTED
IN CONDOS AND LOFTS.
BUT WHAT HAPPENS IN OTHER AREAS
TO THESE BUILDINGS WHEN HOUSING
ISN'T AN OPTION?

An animated slate reads "Ontario Hubs." Then, a clip plays.

Music plays and fast clips show details of church architecture.

Jeyan narrates LARGE CATHEDRAL
CEILINGS, STAINED GLASS PANES,
WOODEN PEWS. HISTORIC STONE
CHURCHES ARE SCATTERED ACROSS
LARGE CITIES, TOWNS, AND
COMMUNITIES. BUT MANY IN THIS
PROVINCE EITHER SIT EMPTY OR
SERVE ANOTHER PURPOSE THAN
WORSHIP.
OF AN ESTIMATED 12,000
PROPERTIES IN ONTARIO THAT WERE
HISTORICALLY USED FOR RELIGIOUS
PURPOSES, ABOUT HALF REMAIN.
DWINDLING CONGREGATIONS, RISING
COSTS, ACCESSIBILITY AND
CHANGING ATTITUDES ARE AMONG A
NUMBER OF FACTORS FORCING
CHURCHES IN THIS PROVINCE AND IN
CANADA TO CLOSE DOWN.
IN HIGH DENSITY CITIES LIKE
TORONTO, THESE DEFUNCT CHURCHES
ARE BEING CONVERTED INTO HIGH
END CONDOS. BUT WHAT HAPPENS TO
THESE PIECES OF HISTORY IN
SMALLER COMMUNITIES?
WHERE HIGH-END CONDOS ARE NOT A
PRIORITY NOR FEASIBLE.
WE TRAVELLED TO THREE PLACES IN
ONTARIO THAT ARE TAKING A
DIFFERENT APPROACH TO CHURCH
CONVERSIONS.

A map of Ontario pops up highlighting the locations of Hamilton, Virgil and Saint Catharines.
Clips show an old church with thick wooden doors.

Jeyan narrates OUR FIRST STOP TAKES US TO
VIGIL, ONTARIO.
BUILT IN 1894, THIS ANGLICAN
CHURCH HAS CHANGED OWNERSHIP A
NUMBER OF TIMES.
ONCE A CHURCH, AN ANTIQUES STORE
AND EVEN A PRIVATE RESIDENCE.
AND NOW IT'S SERVING BEER.

A young woman serves craft beer inside the church building.

Jeyan narrates THAT'S RIGHT.
DRINKING A PINT AND SITTING
IN A CHURCH IS NOT A SIN AT
SILVERSMITH BREWING COMPANY.
IN FACT, IT'S HIGHLY ENCOURAGED.

A caption appears on screen. It reads "Michael Nazareth. Silversmith Brewing Company."

Michael, clean-shaven, in his late thirties, says
FROM THE DESTINATION
POINT OF VIEW IS THE CHURCH.
PEOPLE WANT TO COME IN AND SIT
IN A CHURCH AND THEY DON'T
REALLY GET THAT OPTION TO SIT
DOWN AND DRINK IN A CHURCH. WE
UTILISE THE CHURCH TO HAVE THE
OLD FEEL OF A BEER HALL WHERE
PEOPLE CAN COME IN, CONGREGATE,
DRINK AND EAT.

Jeyan narrates SINCE 2011, THE CRAFT
BREWERY HAS BEEN SERVING UP A
WIDE SELECTION OF BEER,
INCLUDING THEIR POPULAR BLACK
LAGER. EXPOSED BEAMS, BRICK
WALLS, RECLAIMED WOOD, AND
STAINED GLASS WINDOWS GIVE THIS
HERITAGE DESIGNATED SITE ADDED
CHARACTER.
AND MUCH OF THE ORIGINAL CHURCH
IS STILL INTACT WITH SOME LOCAL
TOUCHES.

Michael sits at the bar with a woman.

He says THE FLOORS ARE STILL
THE SAME. THEY DID FIND A BARN
JUST AROUND THE CORNER THAT WAS
BEING TORN DOWN SO THE BAR IS
ACTUALLY PART OF THE OLD BARN.

Now an aerial view shows vineyards.

Jeyan narrates WHILE THE NIAGARA
REGION IS COMMONLY KNOWN AS WINE
COUNTRY, IT'S ALSO HOME TO MORE
THAN A DOZEN CRAFT BREWERIES.
SILVERSMITH BREWERY CLAIMS TO
BE ONTARIO'S ORIGINAL
DESTINATION BREWERY AND THE ONLY
CHURCH IN THE AREA THAT LETS YOU
DRINK ON A SUNDAY.

Fast clips show landmarks of Kingston.

Jeyan narrates FOR ANOTHER EXAMPLE OF ADAPTIVE
RE-USE, WE HEAD TO KINGSTON, ONTARIO.
THE CITY OF ROUGHLY 117,000
PEOPLE IS ONTARIO'S OLDEST
SETTLEMENT. AND WITH THAT
COMES A LOT OF HISTORY.
A PRIME EXAMPLE OF THAT IS THE
OLD QUEEN STREET UNITED CHURCH.

Clips show the gothic-style church.

Jeyan narrates BUILT IN 1864, THE LIMESTONE
BUILDING HAD BECOME A MONEY PIT
FOR THE CHURCH'S CONGREGATION.

A caption appears on screen. It reads "Ben Pilon. BPE Development."

Ben, clean-shaven, in his thirties, says
PART OF THE CEILING FELL
DOWN SO THEY ACTUALLY COULDN'T
HAVE ANY ACTIVITIES UP HERE.
THEY HAD TO DO IT IN THE LOWER
LEVEL AND THEY SPENT A LOT OF
MONEY ON THE TOWER. THEY DID A
BEAUTIFUL JOB FIXING THAT UP.
BUT THEN THEY GOT THE BILL TO DO
THE REST OF THE WORK.
AND IT'S NO SECRET A LOT OF
CONGREGATIONS ARE DWINDLING.
IT JUST DIDN'T MAKE SENSE FINANCIALLY.

Jeyan says THAT'S WHERE BEN PILON
AND HIS FIRM BPE DEVELOPMENT
STEPPED IN.
AFTER PURCHASING THE PROPERTY,
HIS TEAM LOOKED AT WAYS OF
TRANSFORMING THE HERITAGE
STRUCTURE.
AND AFTER A YEAR AND A HALF OF
CONSTRUCTION, THE SANCTUARY WAS BUILT.

Pictures show a co-working space with wooden cubicles.

Ben says IT'S GOT ALL NEW
ELECTRICAL IN IT, ALL NEW
PLUMBING, ALL NEW HEATING.
ALL NEW FLOORS, ALL NEW
CEILINGS, LIGHT FIXTURES,
KITCHENS.
THE WHOLE THING WAS BASICALLY
TAKEN RIGHT BACK TO THE BONES
AND THEN REBUILT.

Jeyan says START-UP BUSINESSES
CAN RENT DESKS, PRIVATE OFFICES,
MEETING ROOMS AND EVENT SPACES.
THE OFFICE WALLS ARE MADE OUT OF
PLYWOOD SO THEY CAN BE PULLED
DOWN AND PUT BACK UP SO AS
THE COMPANY GROWS SO CAN
THEIR OFFICE SPACE.

A caption reads "Liv Halliday. The Sanctuary."

Liv, in her thirties, says SANCTUARY WORKING KIND
OF ACTS AS A SPACE FOR
PROFESSIONALS TO INTERACT IN.
AN EVENT SPACE AS WELL AS
MEETING ROOMS. IT'S KIND OF LIKE
A HUB FOR THE COMMUNITY.

Ben says YOUR START-UP BUSINESS,
YOU DON'T HAVE THE BUDGET
ESSENTIALLY TO HAVE
RECEPTIONISTS OR TO HAVE THE
NICE MEETING ROOM SPACE.
SO WE WANTED TO PROVIDE THAT.
TAKE EVERY SINGLE AMENITY THAT
YOU COULD NEED AS A BUSINESS
THAT JUST PROBABLY ISN'T
FEASIBLE IN YOUR FIRST FEW YEARS.

Jeyan says ANY REFERENCE TO
RELIGION WAS REMOVED AND NEW
STAINED GLASS WAS PUT IN.
A LOT OF THE ORIGINAL DETAILS
WERE ALSO KEPT AND SOME WERE
UNCOVERED.

Ben says WE EXPOSED THE LATHE SO ALL
THE WALLS ARE PRETTY MUCH LATHE
AND PLASTER BUT PEOPLE MAY NOT
BE FAMILIAR WITH IT SO WE
EXPOSED THE LATHE. WE SANDED IT
DOWN, WE CLEAR-COATED IT SO
IT'S JUST NOT EXPOSED LIMESTONE.
YOU GET TO SEE KIND OF ALL THE
DIFFERENT LEVELS.

Jeyan says BEN AND HIS TEAM HOPE
THE CHURCH BECOMES MORE THAN
JUST A COOPERATIVE WORKPLACE.
IT'S ALSO A MEETING POINT FOR
PROFESSIONALS IN KINGSTON.

Ben says WE WANT THE COMMUNITY TO
KNOW EACH OTHER.
IT'S REALLY ABOUT COMMUNITY.
LIKE THAT'S THE TOP PRIORITY FOR
THIS PLACE.

Now fast clips show a different church.

Jeyan says AND COMMUNITY HAS BEEN
THE FOUNDATION OF HAMILTON'S
CHURCH OF THE ASCENSION.
CONSTRUCTED IN 1851, THIS CHURCH
HAS BEEN THE CORNERSTONE IN THE
DOWNTOWN CORE.

A map shows the location of Hamilton.

Jeyan narrates IN ITS HEYDAY IT WOULD SEE MORE
THAN 500 PARISHIONERS EVERY
SUNDAY. NOW THERE ARE ONLY
ABOUT 50 OR 60. BUT INSTEAD OF
SELLING THE PROPERTY ENTIRELY,
THE CONGREGATION LOOKED AT OTHER OPTIONS.

A caption reads "Drew Sinclair. SVN Architects and Planners."

Drew, in his early forties, says EARLY 2010, 2011, 2012,
CONVERSATION BEGAN ABOUT
BEGINNING TO LOOK AT
OPPORTUNITIES TO DOWNSIZE THE
CHURCH'S OPERATIONS ON THE
PROPERTY TO EVENTUALLY FREE UP
LAND, TO LOOK AT EITHER LAND
SALE OR THROUGH FORMING A LEASE
ARRANGEMENT TRYING TO CREATE A
REVENUE OPPORTUNITY FOR THE CHURCH.

Jeyan says DREW SINCLAIR AND
HIS TEAM AT SVN ARCHITECTS AND
PLANNERS PUT THE CONGREGATION'S
PLAN INTO ACTION.
THE MID-19TH CENTURY COMPLEX HAS
THREE BUILDINGS ON THE PROPERTY.
THE CHURCH HALL, SANCTUARY AND
CHAPEL.

Drew says HISTORICALLY, THE
CHURCH EVENTS, THE SOCIAL
CALENDAR WAS OUTSIDE OF THIS
ROOM. IT TOOK PLACE IN THE
CHURCH HALL. IT TOOK PLACE
OCCASIONALLY IN THE CHAPEL.

Jeyan says THE LARGEST ROOM ON
THE PROPERTY WAS SITTING EMPTY
MOST OF THE TIME.

Drew says IT WAS SERVING ONE
FUNCTION ON THE CHURCH SIDE.
IT WAS SERVING THE FUNCTION OF
WORSHIP.

Jeyan says SINCLAIR AND HIS TEAM
LOOKED AT CENTRALIZING ALL OF
THE EVENTS INTO THE MAIN
SANCTUARY. THIS MEANT THAT THE
PEWS ON THE MAIN FLOOR HAD TO GO
AND WERE REPLACED WITH CHAIRS.

Drew says THE DECISION TO MOVE
THE PEWS OUT AND MAKE THE
SANCTUARY A MULTIFUNCTION SPACE
WITH CHAIRS THAT COULD BE PUT
AWAY AND TAKEN BACK OUT,
RECONFIGURED FOR DINING EVENTS
OR FOR COMMUNITY EVENTS WAS
REALLY A MAJOR DECISION.

Jeyan says AND WITH MAJOR
UPGRADES TO THE KITCHEN, THE
SPACE COULD HOST OUTREACH
PROGRAMS, MEETINGS, CONCERTS,
WEDDINGS AND, OF COURSE,
WORSHIP SERVICES.
AND BEING A HERITAGE SITE, IT
WAS IMPORTANT ANY MODERN TOUCHES
FIT WITH THE ORIGINAL FEATURES
OF THE SPACE.
SLEEK OAK CABINETS, ALONG THE
BACK AND SIDE OF THE MAIN
SANCTUARY PROVIDE MUCH NEEDED
STORAGE FOR EVENTS AND GROUPS
BUT WHEN CLOSED THEY FADE INTO
THE BACKGROUND.

Drew closes an oak cabinet on a wall.

He says REALLY THE SENSE WAS
THAT IT WOULD ALWAYS BE A
CHURCH. SO I THINK THE RESPONSE
INTERNALLY WITHIN THE CHURCH
COMMUNITY HAS BEEN VERY, VERY
POSITIVE.

Jeyan says ALTHOUGH MANY OF
ONTARIO'S CHURCHES AREN'T ABLE
TO KEEP THEIR ORIGINAL PURPOSE,
ORGANIZATIONS ARE FINDING
CREATIVE WAYS TO KEEP THE
BUILDINGS AND THEIR HISTORY ALIVE.

A caption appears on screen. It reads "Ontario Hubs Field Producer, Jeyan Jeganathan, @JeyanTVO. Editor, David Erwin."

An animated slate reads "Ontario Hubs. Ontario Hubs are made possible by The Barry and Laurie Green Family Charitable Trust and Goldie Feldman."

Watch: Church Conversions