Towards a 4th Option for St. Giles

Response and Questions after UPRC’s June 10th Town Hall

The Friends of St. Giles attended the two Town Hall sessions about the future of St. Giles, which were run by developer UPRC on June 10th.

This is the first of three pieces we’ll be posting in response.

A Fourth Option is Needed for St. Giles

After attending the Town Hall sessions, the Friends’ position is that a fourth option is needed for St. Giles — and a fifth, and a sixth, if necessary. Of the 3 options presented by UPRC, on behalf of their clients (New Vision and the United Church’s Horseshoe Falls Regional Council), the only one we would consider supporting is Option 2 (affordable housing + church retained).

But what St. Giles truly needs, and what the neighbourhood deserves, is a fourth option that preserves and re-uses the the chuch while also delivering affordable housing. This is not only possible, but has been done in a cost-effective way by other developers. If you are responding to UPRC’s survey, we encourage you to ask for a fourth option, and email Coun. Nann and the United Church Horseshoe Falls Regional Council to let them know your preference.

What could a fourth option look like?

  • Selling to another developer who is committed to both adaptively re-using St. Giles, as well as building affordable housing
  • Committing to securing one of the many grants available for heritage buildings and green, adaptive re-use projects; more become available if St. Giles is designated
  • Fundraising to restore and re-use St. Giles, and keep this gem for the community
  • Or one of many other options…

In short: demolishing the century-old St. Giles to generate a small revenue stream for the owners does not make sense either financially, or in terms of the big picture for Hamilton and Hamiltonians.

Why is a 4th option necessary?

  • Once St. Giles is gone, it’s gone forever. Future generations would have to live with that decision, just as we’ve had to live with the decisions of past generations to destroy beautiful Hamilton landmarks like the Birks Building. As a city, we are the poorer for those short-sighted choices.
  • St. Giles does not need to be demolished — and 2,300+ signatories of our petition are opposed to demolition. As Holton Ave neighbours, as Ward 3 residents, as Hamiltonians, we say: destroying St. Giles is not an option that we should be even considering. There are other, better solutions available: ones that deliver affordable housing while respecting the neighbourhood’s wishes, while respecting Hamilton’s history & architecture, and while protecting this irreplaceable gem.
  • St. Giles is incredibly important to the neighbourhood, and to Hamiltonians: read just a few of the heartfelt comments from the 2,300+ people who’ve signed the petition to save St. Giles, and you’ll see how important this building is to the community, to people’s families, and to them as Hamiltonians.
  • St. Giles is an architectural gem: St. Giles was designed in 1912 by prominent Hamilton architects Stewart & Witton, and built using the finest materials and craftsmanship. By one estimate, to rebuild St. Giles from scratch today would cost $60 million. We have already lost too many of Stewart & Witton’s buildings; we should be cherishing them as Hamilton landmarks, not destroying them against the wishes of the community.
  • St. Giles is historic: it is, without a doubt, one of the most important heritage buildings in Hamilton, with deep ties to the history of Hamilton and its growth. St. Giles has twice been recommended for heritage designation, is an ACO Building at Risk, and has been nominated to the National Trust for Canada Endangered List for 2021. We call on the developer and owners to respect the neighbourhood and Hamilton’s history, and keep St. Giles standing.
  • Adaptive reuse of St. Giles is the greenest option: this beautiful, historic church is not a tear-down property. In the middle of a climate emergency, why would we even consider sending it and all of its embodied energy into a landfill?

We will be posting more detailed commentary in our second and third responses to UPRC’s proposals and their June 10th Town Hall. Stay tuned for more.

How you can help #SaveStGiles

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