Another west side church is up for sale

West Point Grey Presbyterian Church is on the market after having been open for worship for almost 100 years.

I always worry when I see a church building for sale. Sometimes they are sold to other churches, fortunately, but often they go to developers, or to other faith groups.

In this case I am particularly concerned, both because there are so few church buildings left on the west side of the city and because I have some personal attachment to the church.

John Mackie wrote about the sale for the Vancouver Sun May 2. The church property, which takes up three lots on the corner of 12th and Trimble, just three blocks from UBC, would be suitable for housing, or for continued use as a church.

He wrote:

Under the city’s new R1-1 zoning, this allows up to six dwellings in a multiplex, or up to eight in a rental building, as well as duplexes and single detached houses.

But realtor Morgan Dyer said it may well sell to another church group.

“It’s an assembly use – to try to get this to be re-created is very difficult,” said Dyer. “There’s a high demand for other church groups or faith-based organizations for these assets.

“Finding a church building (where) you can just turn the key and walk in tomorrow and start having prayer service is very rare. Trying to duplicate this property, to rebuild what’s there, would be very expensive.”

West Point Grey Presbyterian Church is described as a “Large West Side Multiplex Development Site” on the Collier page.

It’s good to see he is aware of how valuable the property could be to another church.

However, Colliers promotional material (Dyer is a Senior Vice President at Colliers-International) doesn’t seem particularly pitched towards churches.

It says:

The property represents a rare opportunity to acquire a large multiplex development site located in the sought-after West Point Grey neighbourhood.

Purchase scenarios include:

– Single family development with 3 legal lots
– Duplex or multiplex development up to 12 units
– Owner-user and retention of existing structure
– Heritage restoration and potential for adaptive re-use with massing of residential density

And the property is listed for $10 million.

Rev. Richard Watson is overseeing the sale of the property. He is the minister of Kerrisdale Presbyterian Church, with which the small West Point Grey congregation is in the process of amalgamating.

Richard Watson is minister at Kerrisdale Presbyterian Church.

The Introduction to the amalgamation notice on the Kerrisdale site points out that discussions about a possible amalgamation began in the summer of 2021.

After receiving approval from the Presbytery of Westminster the churches continued discussions and were also given the go-ahead by the Presbyterian Church in Canada last year. A closing service for West Point Grey was held March 10.

Kerrisdale’s Future Plan announcement states:

The sale of the West Point Grey property is in progress. While this sale is the responsibility of the West Point Grey congregation, Kerrisdale is an interested party willing to assist in any appropriate way. . . .

Following the sale of the West Point Grey property, the work really begins: blending membership lists, Sessions, committees, archival records, financial resources, deciding whether to change our name and so on.

Watson said in the Vancouver Sun article that the sale will help support Presbyterian ministry, both locally and across Canada, and he does hope it will sell to another church:

“That is our hope and our prayers,” he said.

But if not, they will sell to a developer, and even give them time in a rezoning application.

“They’re not speculators. They’ve owned the property for almost 100 years,” said realtor Dyer.

“They’re not going anywhere and they’re prepared to achieve the highest value they can, because they’re not looking to sell it quickly and reduce the price to do so.”

Go here for the full article; it offers some good insights into the history of West Point Grey Presbyterian Church.

I appreciated the coverage for the church, which was where several of my high school friends attended, and where I went to Scouts.

Two other sites

Dunbar Heights United Church; its members have joined Pacific Spirit United Church.

As I think back on my childhood in Point Grey and Dunbar I realize that two other churches are also gone.

My short-lived church career involved me walking on my own to three churches, in succession, over the course of a year or so when I was five or six.

I went first to St. Philip’s Anglican (with its bowling alley in the basement), then to Dunbar Heights United Church (where I memorized the names of the first five books of the Bible) and then to Dunbar Heights Baptist Church (from which my mother pulled me, claiming they were teaching that “little Mohammed wouldn’t go to heaven.”) That was the end of my church career for about 20 years.

Fortunately, St. Philip’s and Dunbar Heights Baptist are still going strong, as far as I can see. However, Dunbar Heights United sits empty, its members having joined with Pacific Spirit United Church in Kerrisdale. A sale to another church had been close to completion, but it appears to have fallen through.

The Pacific Centre for Discipleship Association sold this Point Grey property, but will be creating a major project at UBC.

I had less connection with the other site, but I did walk by it every day at 11th and Crown on the way home from Lord Byng High School.

At the time it was a Catholic convent for the nuns who taught at Our Lady of Perpetual Help. It was later sold to the Pacific Centre for Discipleship Association (which housed Point Grey Inter-Mennonite Church and the Menno Simons Centre student residence). That property has now been sold to developers for housing.

The good news there, though, is that the PCDA has bought the former Lutheran Campus Centre on the UBC campus, just across University Boulevard from Regent College. 

It plans to develop Menno Hall, a four-to-six storey 11,000 square metre “innovative and sustainably built development consisting of 86 rental housing residences for the missing middle, 101 student housing units, institutional and academic space, common areas, a large multi-functional meeting facility, a dedicated concert and meeting hall, a chapel and stunning outdoor courtyards.”

It is also worth keeping in mind that Knox Presbyterian Church in New Westminster was bought by Coastal Church earlier this year.

I have written about ‘lost churches’ from time to time, here and here for example.

Share this story

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *