Seventh-day Adventists worry about effects of heritage designation

Long-time members of the Seventh-day Adventist church in Lowertown fear heritage designation of their building will hinder their ability to accommodate a large and growing congregation.

The church doesn't object to the heritage designation, and knows the city can grant a designation even if an owner opposes it, heritage consultant Mark Letourneau told city councillors on Ottawa's planning committee.

But Letourneau, who was representing the church, asked to defer the designation for six months.

He said the church wanted the statement about the building's heritage value to reflect not just its history as the Adath Jeshurun Synagogue, the city's first purpose-built synagogue, but also how the Seventh-day Adventists have cared for the building at 375 King Edward Avenue since 1999.

"In a lot of the portrayals of this property it is portrayed as a former synagogue," said Letourneau. "It is a former synagogue but it is also an active church."

Several church members addressed the committee in French, and described a congregation of more than 500 people that welcomes immigrants from Haiti and Africa who are Seventh-Day Adventists.

The city's planning committee did not grant the request for the six-month deferral, and the heritage designation now goes on to full council.