Nunatsiaq Online
NEWS: Nunavut May 16, 2014 - 10:43 am

Arctic Diocese gets financial backing from NCC to pay cathedral debt

“We’re just so grateful for this"

LISA GREGOIRE
Hundreds of visitors to Iqaluit from across Canada and across the Arctic diocese attended the June 3, 2012 dedication service for the reconstructed St. Jude's Cathedral. At that time, the diocese was already behind in honouring a promissory note for $3.9 million they agreed to in 2011 with Dowland Construction, with an interest rate of 12 per cent on unpaid balances. After Dowland went bankrupt in 2013, receiver Alvaraz and Marsal Canada Inc. began demanding payment, putting the diocese into a perilous financial situation. (PHOTO BY JIM BELL)
Hundreds of visitors to Iqaluit from across Canada and across the Arctic diocese attended the June 3, 2012 dedication service for the reconstructed St. Jude's Cathedral. At that time, the diocese was already behind in honouring a promissory note for $3.9 million they agreed to in 2011 with Dowland Construction, with an interest rate of 12 per cent on unpaid balances. After Dowland went bankrupt in 2013, receiver Alvaraz and Marsal Canada Inc. began demanding payment, putting the diocese into a perilous financial situation. (PHOTO BY JIM BELL)

With the help of the NCC Investment Group, the Anglican Diocese of the Arctic has secured a bank loan for $1.9 million to pay off its debt to the receivers handling the financial collapse of the Dowland group of companies.

The diocese had reached a deal with Alvarez and Marsal Canada Inc. in March 2014 to pay $2.65 million that was still owing from the reconstruction of St. Jude’s Cathedral in Iqaluit after it was devastated by an arson fire in 2005.

“They’ve been very helpful right from the outset,” Parsons said, of the NCC. “We’re just so grateful for this. And we’re grateful to people all around Canada who have helped us in the past.”

Bishop David Parsons said May 15 that the church was able to pay off some of their cathedral debt through continuing fundraising efforts across the Arctic and in southern Canada. That left $1.9 million still owing.

The NCC Investment Group helped the diocese secure the loan at an interest rate of four percent — prime plus one — and Parsons said he is hoping they can get that paid off by the end of 2015.

In a fundraising campaign he’s calling “Freedom 2015,” Parsons will ask all members of the Arctic diocese for a weekly donation to help them accomplish that goal.

“I know that’s a sacrifice to pay, on top of what we’re already paying, but if every Anglican paid $20 a week, we could have that building paid off by December 2015,” he said.

The Diocese of the Arctic has between 40,000 and 45,000 Anglican parishioners.

Fundraising for the reconstruction of the Iqaluit cathedral has put a financial burden on the diocese for nearly a decade now, Parsons said.

It means money is not going toward ministers and infrastructure in other parishes. But he’s confident they will be able to pay off their debt soon.

At the time of the new cathedral’s construction, Dowland was involved in a joint-venture with NCC Investment Group in an entity called NCC-Dowland Construction Ltd.

The new cathedral cost about $8 million to build. Through insurance and fundraising, the diocese was able to pull together about $5.5 million, which left them $2.5 million short.

NCC-Dowland agreed to finish construction despite the shortfall, while fundraising efforts continued.

Dowland went into receivership in May 2013.

The church’s debt, in the form of a promissory note agreed to in June 2011, was then transferred to the Royal Bank of Canada, which was not interested in a pay-when-you-can arrangement.

“The receivers were just doing their job. We had a promissory note at 12 per cent. I think otherwise it might have been overlooked,” Parsons said.

“So we’re grateful to Dowland and grateful to the receivers who dropped what we could have paid back. They gave us a break.”

One of many lessons learned from all this, Parsons said, is the importance of proper insurance.

The diocese has now properly insured all its assets for replacement value, he said.

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