Alberta Land Trust
The United Church of Canada Alberta Land Trust has been created to help congregations examine their current situation with expert resources and identify possible alternatives for land stewardship or redevelopment.
Many churches are seeking new ways to continue to serve their community and pursue their mission. However, they routinely face diminishing resources and rising costs. No community of faith should feel alone in tackling these difficult problems. We are here to listen and help with plans, using what already exists in a new, creative way.
The Alberta Land Trust can help identify creative solutions by bringing in experts in planning, financing, land development, as well as local and provincial regulations. The Alberta Land Trust then works with communities of faith to structure ownership arrangements that meet economic, mission, and legal requirements for charities as part of the United Church of Canada. The Alberta Land Trust is managed by the Property and New Church Development Council, a provincial, incorporated United Church Society and registered charity.
How it WorksAn Example
The United Church-on-the-Corner has served its local community for nearly 70 years. The Church has played an important part in this inner-city community by offering a place to gather for Sunday service, bake and garage sales, a drop-in craft class. Over the years, local Scouts and Brownies and a day-care have used the Church’s large basement for their programs. The Church’s Board has worked tirelessly to meet their congregation’s needs and the Church’s mission. This is often done on a shoe-string budget and with great effort by volunteers, who are beginning to show signs of “burn-out” under the pressure.
The Church property is located in an area that is now considered prime for millennial first-time home buyers. It is close to the city’s business and industrial areas. The Church lacks sufficient funds to meet the maintenance needs of the older building. The rental income from the clubs and day-care doesn’t make much of a difference to the overall operating budget. The Church’s Board has come to the painful realization that the Church-on-the-Corner will have to close its doors in a year unless they come up with a solution to their financial problems.
All may not be lost – the Board consulted with the Alberta Land Trust and its experts in land and building assessment and land development. The Church’s structure is inspected and assessed to have too many problems to allow for renovations. This news is a blow to the Church members who have been involved in some heated debates over the fate of the Church-on-the-Corner. Many people from the community are also alarmed that the Church may be no more.
With the help of the Alberta Land Trust, options are discussed and a plan is set in place. Experts in banking, finance, real estate and the law are consulted. The property has been designated for multi-use or mixed development by the city so a creative solution is formulated that will combine apartment/condo units with a large space planned to accommodate the Church’s needs. The Alberta Land Trust brings in a knowledgeable architectural firm to present some ideas on buildings that will meet the needs of all parties and present a viable arrangement. The Land Trust will assist in managing the property and sorting out all the financial and legal arrangements so that the Church-on-the-Corner can concentrate on what it does best and accomplish its mission.
There are still many details to work out and hurdles to cross. The Church-on-the-Corner will continue to have a presence and contribute to its community. There is a great relief that the Church-on-the Corner will survive in a re-purposed manner, in a new facility.
Interested in more information, email Joel Den Haan, Community of Faith Strategy Consultant