The group occupying St Brigid’s Calls claim they broke the Heritage Act
Eviction notices on the door of a historic Lowertown church allege members of the United People of Canada (TUPC) violated the province’s Heritage Act, but the group, which despite attempts by the current owners to change, has remained at St. Brigid’s remains the locks object.
The group, with ties to the Freedom Convoy, first caused a stir in the neighborhood by hanging large banners with white tree badges on them and painting the doors of the historic building red.
It has occupied the desecrated church as a tenant for months and, according to one of the group leaders, as a potential owner through a conditional purchase agreement.
That all changed Wednesday when the building’s sale fell through and eviction notices were released announcing that the lease had been suspended due to $10,000 in unpaid rent and failure to obtain $5 million in liability insurance , dismissed.
The building has now been put up for sale again, but TUPC members show no signs of exiting.
A bailiff hired by the current owners appeared to be changing locks for the first time on Wednesday and has been showing up regularly at 310 St Patrick Street ever since. On Thursday, the locks at the Rectory Art House next door were changed.
These written communications too say TUPC violates the Ontario Heritage Act for altering the site’s appearance without the written permission of the Ontario Heritage Foundation, as well as the Ontario Building Code Act “for failing to obtain necessary permits and permits for construction work “, on the premises .
One of TUPC’s chief organizers and directors, William Komer, says this is the latest tactic used by the owners of St Brigid’s to “unlawfully evict” the group.
“Are those things over there your things that need to be reconciled, or are they trying to frame us? I dont know. Right. But I know we haven’t done any major renovations,” Komer said.
He says there were any violations before TUPC moved in.
“We didn’t do anything wrong. We are violating any business license, anything like food service.”
“We have all honored our rental commitments,” Komer told CBC News, but declined to provide proof due to privacy concerns.
The heritage status of St. Brigid includes the interior decoration
St. Brigid’s is unusual in its heritage status because the designation includes a requirement to protect its interior, according to Heritage Ottawa, a volunteer-run group that champions historic buildings in the nation’s capital.
These interior elements include the paneling, the pews and the confessionals.
Heritage Ottawa wrote a letter to the city asking that it ensure that the building’s “special character-defining elements” are preserved.
“Can you please give us some reassurance that the city will vigorously enforce the monument protection granted to this property and how it intends to do so?” the letter reads.
CBC inspected the building on Friday and didn’t notice any major changes inside, although exterior doors have been painted red — with the owners’ permission, Komer says — and a damaged concrete floor in the basement appears to have been repaired.
The property would require a permit before making any changes to the building’s interior or exterior – but according to the city, none are required for painting the doors.
“I have a pretty big passion for historic real estate and restoration and preservation and things like that,” Komer said. “I have extensive experience working in historic properties, going back as far as ten years at this point.”
TUPC agreed to carry out any necessary repairs
The property is subject to a pending order — issued in March — to repair broken windows and fix problems with the molding on the east tower.
Roger Chapman, the city’s director of charter and regulatory services, said in a statement that changes needed to be made to preserve the property’s cultural characteristics.
Bylaw met with TUPC members Monday as they prepared to take ownership of the building to explain the need for the repairs, Chapman wrote.
Since the order had recently been registered on the title, Chapman said any future owner of the property would be required to comply.
They “stated their intention to comply with all city ordinances and to correct the deficiencies listed in the order,” he wrote.