by David Wynne – Church Moderator
I have been asked to share the story of how Whyte Ridge Baptist acquired the McGillivray property. Many of you, maybe even most of you, do not know the story behind how we acquired the land. I believe God provided the property so we can continue with and grow our present ministry.
Let me share with you the way God provided this amazing gift.
Facilities Planning Committee Formed
In 2002 our church was fairly full (not as full or busy as it is today, but still fairly full.) We put together a Facilities Planning Committee to look at our options. The committee was made up of Ralph Dyck, Milton Kelm, Eric Bergmann, and Al Donald. They conducted a survey very similar to what we did in 2013, and interestingly enough, with many of the same results and conclusions. The major outcome was to find land that would allow us to grow and increase and expand our ministries. The desire was to stay close to this locale because we had built up a very strong presence and relationship within Whyte Ridge.
Search for Land
So the search started. They estimated we would need about 10 acres for a building and to provide all the required parking. There weren’t a lot of options in order to stay close and the cost was going to be fairly high. If you drive out to the corner of Columbia and McGillivray you will see a new Roman Catholic church built on the south-west corner. The Facilities Planning Committee started looking at the land immediately west of there and extending almost all the way to the railway tracks.
The committee discovered there were 16 different parcels of land owned by 16 different groups or individuals. It became quite the challenge to try and pull these parcels together. Some of the people, including a couple who attended our church, lived in houses on the land. They were reluctant to leave their home of many years. Others were speculating on the land and were willing to sell, but at inflated prices. Some were owned by developers to build homes. They were not that interested in selling to a church. The negotiations were complex, very time consuming and looked like they were going to be quite expensive.
A God Moment
Almost 2 years later, in 2004, Ralph Dyck, Chair of the Facilities Planning Committee, was walking across the package of land. He was trying to decide how they might move forward because things had bogged down. He wasn’t sure they were going to be able to accomplish the task. As he stood there pondering, he was looking across McGillivray at the Lafarge Cement office building. Ralph had a thought, or maybe, guidance from the Lord. He walked across the road, into the office, and asked if the manager was in. It was unusual for the manager to be in because he travelled a lot. This day, however, he had a few moments to talk to Ralph. When Ralph sat down with Ken Ross, he asked if perhaps Lafarge was thinking of selling any of their property. Ken was surprised and asked Ralph how he knew they were considering selling off some land. Ralph replied, “Because you just told me!”
A new relationship was started. Notice I didn’t say negotiations. Ralph cultivated a friendship with Ken. They started looking at how things could be worked out. Not everything was straightforward. Lafarge employees had started the FortWhyte Alive Centre, now called Fort Whyte Alive. Lafarge still had an attachment to Fort Whyte and wanted to protect the Centre from anyone who would be on adjacent property. The negotiations were three way – Lafarge, ourselves, and making sure Fort Whyte Centre was happy with the terms of sale. This led us to another relationship wherein we agreed not to build a multilevel building that would detract from their nature setting. It also involved putting into the registration of the property that it could only be used for church use. That was our suggestion, not theirs. It was aimed at continuing to build the relationship.
As the negotiations were close to being finalized, Ken received a call from his head office. They wanted the new Lafarge office to be located on McGillivray. That meant an end to the sale of the property. However, as the team sat with Ken to discuss this latest development, Ken was called away to the phone. The head office had changed their mind and the sale could proceed. Was this God’s will intervening once again?
Lafarge agreed to sell us the land for around $52,500 per acre – well below the going market rate. Then, as we went through all the checks and balances on transferring the property, it was discovered there were a large number of kiln bricks from old ovens spread over the property. Lafarge immediately took responsibility. They brought in crews, at a fairly significant expense, to clean up and remove the bricks before the sale was finalized. When the sale was finally settled, we were hit with another ugly surprise. The City of Winnipeg required a development tax on the transfer of title in the amount of $164,000. This was not something we had foreseen and was quite a shock. But our friends at Lafarge stepped forward once again. They contributed $75,000 towards the tax bill and the sale went through.
There were many other little things that happened but I’ve tried to give you the highlights of what transpired. Through all this, as one thing after another fell into place, I saw the Lord’s hand in it. He directed the Facilities Planning Committee. He seemed to work on the hearts and minds of those we dealt with in pulling everything together. This is why I believe God gave us this land and that we need to use it to His honour and glory.
An addendum to this story is that the “church use only” designation is the main reason for our tax adjustment to reduce our taxes.
Land is Purchased
Overall, we purchased 14 acres of land. However, the first 100 feet of property off of McGillivray Blvd. cannot be used by us. The City of Winnipeg has a variance on it for the twinning of McGillivray at some time in the future. This will reduce the usable portion of the land by 2.3 acres. We will have 11.7 acres for development.
Cost of the Land
|GST Refund||$ (24,850.00)|
|City Development Fee||$ 164,430.00|
|GST Refund||$ (5,755.05)|
|Lafarge Donation||$ (75,000.00)|
TOTAL COST OF LAND
|Cost per acre||$ 59,288.22|
Through the generosity and faith of our people, the land was paid off within two years.
Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen. — Ephesians 3:20–21, NIV
For a history of Whyte Ridge Baptist Church, go here.
For a graphical representation of White Ridge Baptist’s history, check out our Timeline.