N.s. Parish Can't Afford Diocese Land

CBC News
October 15, 2010

People in West Arichat, N.S., are unhappy that they can't buy local church property that is being sold by the Catholic Diocese of Antigonish.

The diocese will sell off about 400 properties to pay for a court settlement with victims of sexual abuse by priests. The diocese needs to raise $18 million.

The local Immaculate Conception parish wanted to buy an empty lot in West Arichat that was once the site of the Acadiaville School. The parish was told that it could buy the property for $12,500, but the parish couldn't afford that so it designated the West Arichat Village Circle Society to buy it instead. They were to make the area a playground.

But now another buyer has come forward with an offer of $25,000 and the diocese has no choice but to accept.

"We're in a legal binding agreement," said Rev. Paul Abbass, a spokesman for the diocese. "And the legal binding agreement says that we would seek to get fair market value for all properties."

Details about the $25,000 bidder have not been made public.

Dave Forgeron, who heads the village circle society, said the group cannot afford that price.

"And as a matter of principle, I have difficulty myself personally in seeing our group paying that money, even if we had it," he said.

The parishes get first right of refusal to buy properties, but they can't hand off that right to other community groups.

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