On this page, you’ll find information on these topics:
Buying & selling church property
Canon 6 states that “all real property in the Diocese is held for the Diocese irrespective of the name of the registered owner.” As a result, all purchases and sales of property (e.g. vacant land, rectories, other residential housing) must be approved by Synod Council.
The Procedure Pursuant to Canon 6 outlines the process you need to follow, along with the documentation you need to submit.
- Discuss any acquisition (including buying property or receiving it as a donation/gift) or disposition of property with your bishop to get their written support. You should also consult the Executive Director of the Diocese.
- All requests are reviewed by the Risk and Governance Committee. It makes a recommendation to Synod Council.
- Parishes can’t enter into a binding legal agreement until Synod Council has granted its approval. To make sure that happens, all Agreements of Purchase & Sale must include three additional vendor’s conditions that parishes can get from the Property Resources Coordinator.
To avoid any potential conflicts of interest, all real estate professionals (realtors, solicitors, etc.) retained by the parish should be at arms-length from the corporation.
Disestablishment of a parish or congregation
Disestablishment happens in consultation with the bishop and in keeping with Canon 13. The churchwardens need to complete all church business and deliver specific documents and information to the Diocesan Centre within 90 days of the Declaration of Disestablishment.
Churchwardens should consult the Church Closing Checklist for help through the disestablishment process.
Renovations & capital improvements
Parishes need to get Synod Council’s approval for new construction, structural alterations or repairs that require a building permit.
They also can’t incur any financial obligation they don’t expect to liquidate within a year without the written consent of the bishop and Synod Council.
For the details of the diocesan approvals process and the documentation you need to submit, see:
The Project Review Committee (PRC), and Risk and Governance Committee review projects and make recommendations to Synod Council.
To avoid any potential conflicts of interest, all professionals retained in connection with these types of projects should be at arms-length from the parish corporation.
Building Permit & hard construction cost greater than $100,000
Requests must receive Approval in Principle and/or Final Approval before the project starts (consult the Procedure Pursuant to Canon 6 for details).
Building Permit & hard construction cost less than $100,000
The simplified Canon 6 procedure applies (see the Summary Chart).
- Complete all due diligence items on the Green Checklist
- Email a fully completed and signed checklist to email@example.com
- Once you’ve submitted your checklist, you can proceed with the project. Checklists are reported quarterly to the Risk and Governance Committee and Synod Council.
Loans not expected to be liquidated in one year still need to be approved in advance by Synod Council.
For more information, contact Mac Moreau, director of Property Resources, at 416-363-6021, ext. 251 (1-800-668-8932).
Where the parish is the owner of a cemetery or crematorium under the Funeral, Burial and Cremation Services Act, 2002, S.O. 2002, c.33, the churchwardens may appoint trustees who are responsible to them for the operation of the cemetery, columbarium or crematorium. The trustees prepare and submit an annual report to the churchwardens, who then present the report to the vestry.
Find more information in:
Cemetery Assistance Program
The Cemetery Assistance Program provides resources and help to all parishes operating cemeteries. Its goals include:
- gathering accurate information to comply with the BAO (Bereavement Authority of Ontario)
- helping parishes complete new annual licensure reporting forms for care and maintenance trust funds or accounts, required by the BAO
- creating a diocesan resource to help with issues and concerns that may arise
- providing a forum for operators of cemetery services
- establishing a database for historical records
- acting as a liaison resource with the BAO
The team of professionals administering the program includes:
- Director of Finance
- Kevin Palin – Cemetery Consultant for the Diocese and principal advocate for the program. Kevin brings more than 40 years of experience in the death care profession. He’s the former general manager of St. James Cemetery and Crematorium in Toronto and an active member of the Ontario Association of Cemetery and Funeral Professionals.
We’re here to help with any cemetery-related concerns. If you have any questions, get in touch with Kevin Palin at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Building inspections & maintenance
All diocesan-owned buildings must be professionally inspected every 10 years. Through the inspection schedule, two deaneries per year are identified to complete their inspections within the year.
Church buildings must be inspected by a professional commercial/institutional building inspector with the requisite expertise, training and insurance. The Diocese doesn’t endorse or require parishes to use a specific inspection firm. You’re free to procure an appropriately qualified commercial inspection company of your choice.
The building inspection is also known as a Property Condition Assessment (PCA).
You can find resources on ongoing property maintenance in the Parish Property Maintenance Guidelines.
Canon 6(7) governs the ownership of rectories and any alterations or repairs.
You can consult these resources to learn more about buying and maintaining a rectory:
- Rectory Policy: identifies the criteria required when either buying or building a new rectory
- Policy for Rectory Maintenance: outlines the importance of proper maintenance practices, including regular inspection requirements
The Carleton Fund, administered by the Risk and Governance Committee, gives grants to help parishes with maintenance of clergy-occupied rectories. For more information, including application forms and procedures, visit the Grants and Funding page.
Buying or selling a rectory
The same process applies for rectories as for buying and selling any church property. You should also read through the Guidelines Re: the Sale of Rectories and the Use of Funds Therefrom.
Before your parish accepts a memorial gift of significant value from a donor, read the diocesan Policy on Memorial Gifts to Parish Churches. It identifies:
- that the donor must give up full ownership of the gift
- the Diocese’s responsibility to the donor
- how specific religious articles should be disposed of if they’re no longer needed or can’t be used
The donor needs to sign a Letter of Agreement for Giving A Significant Memorial Gift acknowledging that the gift is transferred to the parish and that the donor relinquishes any future claim to the gift.
Is your parish interested in renewable electricity generation projects? Take a look at:
- An excerpt from the Diocese of Niagara’s report on the Solar Energy Task Force
- Action ideas for practical greening
You should also consult the requirements of Canon 6 on real property and related rights.