Renewal of the Rectory and Offices

Update from July 15, 2021

Much has been accomplished so far over the last few years.  We have now completed phase 1 of our Renewal Building Project, which was an addition to the parish hall which now houses our parish offices.  We also finished the basement of our parish hall adding meeting rooms and washrooms.  An elevator has been installed to make the basement portion of our parish hall accessible to all.  

Phase 2 of our project is well under way.  A new furnace room has been added to the basement of the sacristy, which will now heat the church and the future rectory. The rectory building has been taken down and preparations are now under way to begin the construction of the new rectory. Below, you can see some images of the new rectory and how it will be integrated with the church.  The timeline for the completion of Phase 2 is summer of 2021. 

Parking lot view

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Garage view

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16th St. S and 16th Ave E. view

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God's view of the new rectory and church and parish hall and parking lot

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Original rectory virtual tour

Click the right arrow on the picture to take a virtual tour

Renewal of the Offices and Rectory in Owen Sound

• Why is it necessary to consider renewal at this time?

Due to the deteriorating and overcrowded condition of the residence at St. Mary's Church in Owen Sound a committee was struck to examine possible solutions for the renovation of the existing building. In May 2017 contractors were consulted and various possibilities were looked at. The cost for a modest short term fix-up was estimated at $875,000. That did not include asbestos remediation or electrical updating. A complete gutting and refit of the existing building was estimated to cost in excess of three million dollars.

Both possibilities still left us with a building that has been substantially compromised, both aesthetically and structurally, over the past 100 years, and it is no longer recognizable as the building that was constructed in 1873. The current building also has significant accessibility issues. 

Another issue that arose was the day-to-day overlap of the administrative functions of the Parish with what is essentially a residence. 

After considering the shortfalls of the existing building, not least of which was the 3 million dollar price tag, the committee began to look at the construction of a new residence and the relocation of the administrative offices to an addition which could be built onto the existing Parish Centre. The cost for the new residence and the office addition was estimated at $2.1 million dollars.

This new build concept was accepted by the committee as the best long term solution. The proposal was then presented to the members of our parish community and was received extremely well by them and the various user groups of the local community.

• Power Point Presentation: The State of Repair in Rectory

The deteriorating condition of the present building calls for expensive major repairs that are estimated to cost in excess of three million dollars. These repairs will still leave many deficiencies and undesirable results. The three storey structure is not suited to an aging clergy due to steep staircases and generally does not meet modern standards for accessibility. The building is hard to heat in a cost-efficient and environmentally friendly way. Contaminants such as lead paint and asbestos must be dealt with to allow it to be used as a residence or office. Safety is an issue when dealing with the exterior fire escape and the condition of the building. The layout does not provide separation of the residence and office. This separation is desirable for both the clergy and office staff. We do not have the option to do nothing, and expensive repairs would be necessary to maintain the building even for the short term.

• Plans for the Parish Centre Addition

A proposal to construct an addition to the existing Parish Centre to accommodate the offices is the widely preferred option of our Parish Community. This 1200 square foot area would house the present office staff and provide offices for the clergy as well as a small meeting room. The design will take advantage of the present entrance and washrooms. This phase would be completed first to allow the office function to be in the new setting prior to construction of the new rectory.

• Plans for a Two Phase Project

A new rectory of less than 5000 square feet will be built on the site of the existing rectory. There will be a provision to save the existing boiler system in the basement of the rectory as it serves both the church and present rectory. The draft of the new rectory includes common areas for kitchen, laundry, dining, a private chapel, living room and a TV room. There will be 3 suites of 600 square feet each for the resident clergy consisting of a bedroom with an en suite bathroom and a sitting room. Two guest bedrooms with adjacent bathrooms will meet the need to accommodate visiting clergy or family members.

Click here to view architectural plans for the 2 phase project

• Cost estimates for the 2 phase project

The office addition is estimated to cost $400,000. The rectory is estimated to cost $1.7 million. The entire project will cost $2.1 million. These are preliminary estimates will become more definite as the project unfolds.

• Parishioners have shown overwhelming support.

Presentations have been made to churches throughout the parish from mid April to the present. Of the 178 feedback forms returned, 95% fully support the two phase proposal currently being considered, and 5% support the proposal with some reservations and suggestions. All comments are under active study by the building committee and many will be reflected in later drafts where feasible and affordable.

Continued input from all parishioners is highly valued and additional consultations are planned for the fall of 2018. Suggestions are welcome at any time in the box provided.

• Where are we in the Planning Process?

Initial discussions have begun with the City of Owen Sound. Planning officials have laid out a step by step process to gain necessary approvals. Submissions will be made to various agencies and committees of council to satisfy any concerns these agencies may raise. A study of the cultural heritage of the present site is being undertaken. It will examine the heritage of the site in general and the rectory in particular. It will then be possible to determine how any new construction will recognize the heritage and enhance the entire complex.

A complete proposal of detailed drawings, a site survey and other relevant documents and deposits were delivered to the City of Owen Sound on Thursday, June 7th, 2018, for approval.

The building committee continues to meet on a regular basis to maintain momentum with the planning. Our plan is that the first phase of the project can gain approval and construction can begin in the late fall of 2018. The planning for phase two would be finalized with construction on that phase to begin in the spring of 2019. If all goes well, the offices will be occupied by Easter of 2019 and the rectory ready by Christmas of 2019.

• Parallel Consultation with the Diocese of Hamilton

On going consultation with the Diocese of Hamilton is required under detailed construction procedures. Major discussions have already taken place on the general feasibility of the proposal. We have permission from the Diocese to continue. Further discussion will involve the site plan, preliminary design, detailed design, construction documents, application for building permit, prescriptions for tender, tender call, awarding the contract as well as throughout the building process.

• Common Questions Raised in Response to the Proposal

Q. Where is the Funding for this Project Coming From?

A. The undertaking of this 2 phase project is a major commitment by all the members of St. Mary’s and the Missions.

St. Mary’s in Owen Sound and each of the Missions has reserves set aside in individual building funds. As the rectory serves the entire area, it will require a major commitment of resources from each and every church. Parishioners throughout the area served by St. Mary’s and the Missions will be called upon to support this initiative according to their individual circumstance.

Presently resources that have been made available for the project have come from donations set aside for the Office/Rectory in the parish budget.

A Diocesan capital campaign to raise the funds necessary to see this project through to completion will be rolled out in the coming months.


Q. Can more women be involved on the building committee?

A. Since this suggestion was made, several women were invited and two responded by joining the committee.


Q. Why is this project more expensive to build than a residential home?

A. This is a question the committee asked as it got quotes on early proposals. The answer is found in the requirement to build according to standards for an institutional building designed to have a lifespan of 100 years. We are not permitted to build a residential structure on this property and still maintain our tax status as a religious institution.

In the process of getting quotes on the preliminary designs we found that the current estimate is in line with costs per square foot of each of the other submissions. These submissions came from a wide range of Diocesan, local and area contractors. The effort to reduce the cost is an on going commitment.


Q. How much has been spent so far?

A. Fees for initial studies, architectural, budget estimates:


      Lanhack Consultants Inc. – Hamilton                 $3,365.

      Designated Substance Survey – Asbestos        $4,248.

      Architectural Design - G.Diemert                        $6,998.

      Site Survey                                                            $6,181.

      Heritage Impact Statement – RHC                      $6,800.

      Filing applications with Owen Sound                  $1,000.

      TOTAL                                                                   $28,592.


Q. Will there be sufficient parking spaces?

A. The most recent draft shows the creation of additional parking spaces by extending the present lot to the east into what is currently a grassed area to gain 30 parking spaces.


Q. Can expansion to the existing kitchen be done at this time?

A. The Committee has heard this request. We will study closely whether it will fit into the design and whether the cost can be absorbed in the budget. We are confident that this can be accomplished.


Q. Will the basement of the Parish Centre be renovated to provide a replacement for the Lorraine Paterson Room that will no longer be available when phase 2 is begun?

A. This suggestion is under active consideration and certainly it will go forward with the specifics yet to be determined.


Q. Why should the state of the rectory be of concern to the mission churches since they are far away?

A. Without exception the participants of the Mission churches received the rectory proposal enthusiastically as they understood the vital importance of having a residence for the priests who serve their community.


Q. Would a rectangular building be more efficient and less costly to build? Is this design too grandiose?

A. The design is simple and functional, not ostentatious, one that shows proper respect for the legitimate needs of the office staff and clergy. It is handicap accessible.

The original rectory was historically a home to which the clergy returned from far-flung missions to rest and renew their zeal before setting out on their next visit to the missions. The design builds the suites around a courtyard with natural space in a private setting. It is intended to have a monastic feel. The commitment to privacy within community has been achieved in this plan.

Aesthetically, the roofline and construction materials chosen will complement the church proper and the Parish Centre and offices so as to create a campus united to serve the Catholic community of Grey Bruce. The lower profile of the rectory provides the opportunity to enhance the view and prominence of the church. We have worked hard to create a design that creates a balance between simplicity and functionality.


Q. How will the community get updates as the project unfolds?

A. It is the intention of the committee to maintain regular contact by posting updates on our parish website. Individuals who wish to get notices of updates can do so by providing an email address. You will receive updates as to what is newly posted on the website and you may communicate feedback by the same method. If you do not wish to receive these email updates, you may unsubscribe.

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