The hall door at St. Anne and St. Edmund Anglican Church in Parksville was set on fire early June 15 by someone trying to break into the premises.
Parksville Fire Department responded to a fire alarm at approximately 3 a.m. and found the door of the church hall on fire. It was quickly extinguished.
Fire chief Marc Norris said someone intentionally caused the blaze, which resulted in smoke damage to the church’s offices and library.
“Someone attempted to break into the church and started a fire on one of the doors,” said Norris. “It appeared that they lit it with a torch and sprayed it with some accelerants. They were in the latch area and had significant fire damage around it.”
The 1894 St. Anne Building and the 1962 St. Edmund worship spaces were not damaged.
Bishop Anna Greenwood-Lee of the Anglican Dioceses of Islands and Inlets said the hall and offices are now closed to the public. She indicated it’s a temporary loss of an important community space.
“The physical damage to the building can be repaired, but we grieve the loss of this community space in the interim,” said Greenwood-Lee. “Many citizens of all ages visit the church hall weekly for meaningful programs — the temporary loss of their access to the building will be felt most deeply by them.”
The parish hall hosts a variety of programs every week including Alcoholics Anonymous meetings, contemplative practice (meditation) and spiritual discussions; youth groups including Brownies, Guides, Rangers and Pathfinders; and fitness, yoga and music programs for elders.
The church and hall have also been utilized as in-from-the-cold shelters the past two winters for people experiencing homelessness in Parksville and nearby communities.
The parish looks forward to restoring the hall and office areas soon.