The City of Lacombe has made the next step in a somewhat lengthy process to bring the community its first-ever municipally designated historic site.
At a regular meeting of council on June 9th, council gave first and second reading to a bylaw designating St. Andrew’s United Church as a Municipal Historic Resource. After a unanimous vote, Mayor Steve Christie also signed a notice of intent regarding the designation.
The actual designation, which will be completed Aug. 25th when council gives third and final reading to the new bylaw, is the final step in a process that began five years ago.
Councillor Peter Bouwsema, who has been involved in that process from the beginning, said that the accomplishment represented the culmination of several years of hard work.
He also commented on how beneficial it is for Lacombe, already a community known for its history, to make these designations and preserve its history.
“This is just another reason for people to come to Lacombe,” said Bouwsema.
He added that, while Lacombe has reached its first milestone by making its first Municipal Historic Resource designation, it is by no means the end of the work being done by the Historic Resources Committee and City council to preserve Lacombe’s heritage.
“This is really not the end of the road,” said Bouwsema. He went on to say that he is looking forward to many more such designations happening in the future and encouraged owners of historic buildings to come forward and make applications for designation.
“I’d like to see one, two, three of these a year if possible,” said Bouwsema.
He could not say what Lacombe’s next Municipal Historic Resource designation might be, but did say that there are hundreds of historic houses within Lacombe that would make good designations.
In 2009, the City began working toward documenting heritage resources in Lacombe via the creation of a Municipal Heritage Survey.
St. Andrew’s United Church was one such resource identified by the survey and in December of last year the City announced it had received an application from the church to be designated.
Once designated, St. Andrew’s United Church will be preserved and protected as a Municipal Historic Resource.
This designation also enables St. Andrew’s United Church to receive funds from certain grant programs and other such initiatives, though there is no guarantee the site would receive such funding.
Any funds that are received through grant funding could be used to repair, restore and preserve the building, parts of which are more than 100 years old.
Named after the apostle Andrew, the church was built as a Presbyterian church but later became the home of one of Canada’s first United churches when the Presbyterian and Methodist congregations of Lacombe amalgamated.
When original construction was completed, the building was half the size of the existing sanctuary, which has been added onto again and again over the years.
St. Andrew’s is home to Lacombe’s only church bell. It was also included in the structure’s original construction and at the time cost the church only $120.
Since then, St. Andrew’s United Church has been a landmark in the community and a community gathering place as well.
In addition to offering regular church services to its congregation, St. Andrew’s United Church serves as a gathering place for meetings, lectures, even concerts and plays.
There was little debate regarding the recommendation from administration that council give first and second reading to the bylaw as well as issue a notice of intent. All of council seemed in agreement this was a positive move for Lacombe.
Councillor Wayne Armishaw said he was “just itching” to move administration’s recommendation to issue a notice, and did so promptly.
Movements to give the bylaw first and second reading followed as well, given by Bouwsema and Councillor Wayne Rempel, respectively.