Vandals deface 103-year-old N.S. church after group saves it from demolition
CTVNews.ca Staff, with a report from CTV Atlantic’s Kyle Moore
Published Monday, April 15, 2019 6:34PM EDT
Last Updated Tuesday, April 16, 2019 9:04AM EDT
A 103-year-old church in Cape Breton has been vandalized with racist graffiti a month after a community group saved it from demolition.
Members of the Stone Church Restoration Society found an obscene word, a swastika and several other symbols had been tagged on the back of the St. Alphonsus Church in Victoria Mines, 15 kilometres north of Sydney.
“I'm very distraught,” Melanie Sampson, the president of the Stone Church Restoration Society and a member of the congregation, told CTV Atlantic. “This building doesn't stand for racism. Never did and never will.”
The St. Alphonsus Church was built in 1916 and sits on the hilltop overlooking the Sydney harbour. In 2015, the Diocese of Antigonish agreed to sell it to the group as they did not want to cover the $600,000 in necessary repairs.
In November, the group said it had received the ownership papers after spending four years raising $40,000 to buy the property. On March 17, Stone Church Restoration Society was officially granted ownership of the church.
The group hopes to one day restore the facility and use it as a tourist attraction and wedding venue.
The church was not the only target for the vandals, either. Sampson’s been told several homes in nearby Whitney Pier have also been tagged.
While the properties were not vandalized with racist imagery, some were hit with half circles and the initials “PBG,” which police told Sampson means “Pier Boy Gang.”
Sampson said a local contractor has offered to remove the graffiti for free.
“I think it's a way for the community to rally together and let people know this type of behaviour won’t be tolerated,” she said.
Police say no arrests have been made and the incident remains under investigation.
The Stone Church Restoration Society is looking at installing cameras and extra lighting to prevent any further vandalism.