The Quebec Minister of Culture and Communications made an announcement this morning that the province will invest $20 million dollars to restore and repair churches and preserve religious heritage.
According to CBC News, the government will aim to preserve buildings that have "religious and cultural heritage value" for Quebec. Many religious buildings in the province have fallen into disrepair but only churches that meet specific criteria will be eligible.
The investment is part of the CAQ's campaign promise to maintain and preserve cultural and religious heritage in Quebec. Preservation programs have been in place since 1995, according to the official press release (in French).
A total of $15 million of this investment will go to directly "to ensure the preservation and enhancement of cultural heritage of a religious nature throughout Quebec".
This portion of the investment comes from grants by the Conseil du patrimoine religieux, an organization that ensures the protection, transmission, and restoration of Quebec's religious heritage sites.
The Council covers 80% of the costs when it comes to "all work deemed essential to the preservation of the heritage qualities of the building, furnishings, work of art, or organ".
Since 1995, the Council has been tasked with preserving Quebec's religious heritage. Their financial assistance programs help owners of religious buildings maintain the sites if they are deemed essential to the province's cultural heritage.
Another $5 million will be included to "requalify" some churches as heritage sites and "repurpose" churches for small communities. The total $20 million dollar investment is the largest investment ever since the program began.
According to Natalie Roy, Minister of Culture and Communications and Minister for the French Language, "the cultural heritage of a religious nature belongs to the people of Quebec [...] This considerable investment is aimed at preserving the jewels of our heritage". She says that protecting religious sites is a "shared responsibility".
Secularism or the new laws weren't mentioned in any way.
So far, a total of "69 buildings, 2 organs, 4 moveable property and a collection of works of art spread over several regions" will be restored.
There's sure to be more debate about this investment but the CAQ government is committed to providing it.
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