Adil Boukind Le Devoir The Sainte-Bibiane church, which was built in 1955, has been closed since October 2022.
Montreal intends to get its hands on the Sainte-Bibiane church and its presbytery, located in Rosemont–La Petite-Patrie, in order to give them a social and community vocation. The City has submitted a promise to purchase $2.5 million to acquire the two buildings.
Closed since October 2022, the Sainte-Bibiane church had been put up for sale by the Catholic Archbishop of Montreal and the Fabrique de la parish of Saint-Esprit-de-Rosemont, which owns it.
On December 20, the City's executive committee approved a promise to purchase 2.5 million for the two buildings. The municipal administration cites an increase in needs for social and community services and the shortage of premises since the COVID-19 pandemic to justify its approach.
Before concluding a transaction, the City will conduct due diligence checks on the condition of the buildings. Once the transaction is completed, it intends to rent the premises to a community organization based on the needs of the community. Without specifying the nature of the services that will be offered there, she mentions that these will be aimed at “helping vulnerable people”. “In a context of scarcity of available sites, this action will allow the City to secure the location to implement a project which will be developed in consultation with all stakeholders in the sector. It is important that this possible project meets the needs that will be targeted by the partners,” indicated by email Guillaume Rivest, public relations officer at the City.
According to the Building Management and Planning Department, significant investments will be required to ensure the good condition of the buildings. He mentions an investment of 200,000 dollars in the first year and a total of 2.5 million over a 10-year horizon.
Could the church and its presbytery accommodate homeless people ? According to the City, it is too early to specify the exact purpose of the buildings, especially since no agreement has been reached with a community organization.
A worried tenant
Located at 5600, 12e Avenue — although its main entrance overlooks Saint-Michel Boulevard, at the corner of Dandurand Street — the Sainte-Bibiane church was built in 1955 by Labelle and Goyer, architects. According to the Inventory of Places of Worship in Quebec, the building is of rather low heritage interest.
Currently, the presbytery has four tenants, but the two commercial leases and the two residential leases may be terminated as a result of the transaction. The tenants of the presbytery have already been informed of the sale of the building and of the City's intention to acquire it. For its part, the church is unoccupied.
One of the tenants, Maison d’Hérelle, welcomed this possible transaction with disappointment. The non-profit organization which provides accommodation to people with HIV/AIDS has been renting part of the presbytery since last July with the aim of welcoming new HIV-positive arrivals. Except that he has still not been able to realize his project, due to not having obtained the necessary authorizations from the Montreal Fire Department.
The general director of Maison d'Hérelle, Michèle Blanchard, indicates that her organization has been informed of the City's intentions, but she criticizes the City for its lack of transparency in the matter. “It’s radio silence from elected officials or the borough [of Rosemont–La Petite-Patrie], maintains Ms. Blanchard. Nobody talks to us. This is what I find most unfortunate. Yet we are on the same missions. I'm just a tenant, but I would have liked to stay for a year [in the presbytery], while the City organizes itself to carry out its project. »
La Maison d'Hérelle even considered presenting an offer to purchase the church and its presbytery in partnership with a cultural organization, but was unable to do so within the time required to compete with the City . According to Ms. Blanchard, the Sainte-Bibiane church and its presbytery are in good condition, unlike other places of worship in Montreal.
Only the lease with the telecommunications company Telus, which amounts to nearly $14,000 per year and is valid until 2030, will be maintained if the buildings are purchased by the City .