Inuvik’s Igloo Church is facing closure amidst rising heating costs in the community.
The church’s heating bills have doubled since last year, and now the congregation is confronted with a difficult situation – find the extra cash or close the doors and face possible structural damage to the 54 year-old spiritual centre and iconic tourist destination.
“With a small congregation and little funds to draw from, we cannot maintain it financially,” explained parishioner Bernice Lavoie. “We are at risk of doing structural damage should we turn off the heat, which literally puts us in a catch-22 situation.”
Lavoie is spearheading a fundraising effort to help pay for the Our Lady of Victory Church’s heating bill.
The Catholic church’s bill for December 2013 ran up to $3,000. After that, volunteers re-insulated the circumference of the church, which helped reduce the bill to $2,000 the following month.
They also reduced their fuel consumption from 135GJ to 80GJ between January 2013 and 2014.
“That’s to heat the building, and we’re only using it one day a week,” Lavoie said.
Without the reduced bill due to the added insulation, the church would likely have had to close.
Lavoie, Sheila O’Kane, Miki O’Kane, Father Magnus Chilaka and Lavoie’s husband Joe are now part of an effort to raise extra funds to keep the church open.
Their first project is to sell community spirit calendars, which local businesses can buy advertising blocks in at a cost of between $40 and $90. Individuals can purchase calendars for $10 and are entitled to list up to four birthdays, anniversaries or memorials.
“We are just starting this fundraiser, but if all goes well we have the potential to raise a few thousand dollars,” Lavoie said.
“Basically it’s just to support the church. We don’t want to see it close because of the damage it could do, especially in the middle of winter.”
Lavoie said while she is coordinating the fundraising effort, she is hoping to find volunteer canvassers to help.
“I’m counting on everybody else to pitch in,” she said.
The calendar will span from September 2014 to August 2015. Volunteers will be pre-selling calendars at Inuvik’s NorthMart on Mar. 29.