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Trustee (Church Property) Act

[RSBC 1996] CHAPTER 465

Contents
1Appointment of trustees to hold land
2Application to every church
3Property of religious bodies may be mortgaged
4Trustees may let land belonging to religious bodies
5Consent of congregation
6Power to acquire and deal with property
7Trustees statement of transactions
8Power of trustees to sue
9Control of trustees by court
10Location of burial grounds

Appointment of trustees to hold land

1  (1) If a religious society or congregation of Christians in British Columbia desires to take a conveyance of land for one or more of the following purposes, the society or congregation may appoint trustees to whom the land may be conveyed:

(a) the site of a church, chapel, meeting house, school, belfry, burial ground or residence for the minister;

(b) the support of public worship and the propagation of Christian knowledge;

(c) the general purposes of the congregation;

(d) to acquire other property under this Act.

(2) The successors of trustees appointed under subsection (1) must be appointed in the manner specified in the conveyance under subsection (1), if applicable.

(3) If a conveyance under subsection (1) does not specify the manner in which successors may be appointed, the society or congregation may appoint or elect successors to the trustees at a regular annual congregational meeting of the society or congregation, or at any special meeting called by written notice read to the congregation at the close of public worship on each of the last 2 preceding Sabbaths by the officiating minister or other person appointed to read the notice.

(4) A notice for the purposes of subsection (3) may be given at the request of the officiating minister, the remaining trustees or any 5 members of the society or congregation.

(5) A minute of any appointment or election signed by the chair and secretary of the meeting at which the appointment or election took place is for all purposes sufficient evidence of the fact that the persons named in it were appointed or elected at the meeting.

(6) The persons appointed or elected and their successors have the same powers, rights, duties and are subject to the same trusts as the parties named as the original trustees.

(7) The trustees and their successors in perpetual succession, by the name expressed in the conveyance, may take, hold and possess the land and other property conveyed.

Application to every church

2  All the rights and privileges conferred on any religious body, society or congregation by section 1 extend in every respect to every church, to be exercised according to the government of the church.

Property of religious bodies may be mortgaged

3  If a debt is contracted for

(a) the building, repairing, extending or improving of a church, meeting house, chapel, school or belfry on land held by trustees for the benefit of any religious society or congregation of Christians in British Columbia, or

(b) the purchase of the land on which anything referred to in paragraph (a) has been or is intended to be erected,

a majority of the trustees may

(c) secure the debt or any part of it by a mortgage on the land, church, meeting house, chapel, school or belfry held by the trustees, or borrow to pay the debt or part of it and secure the repayment of the loan and interest by a similar mortgage, on the terms as may be agreed on.

Trustees may let land belonging to religious bodies

4  (1) The grantees in trust named in any letters patent from the Crown, or the survivors of them, or the trustees for the time being appointed in the manner specified in the letters patent or other deed or in this Act, by which land is granted for the use of a congregation or religious body, and any other trustees for the time entitled by law to hold land in trust for the use of a congregation or religious body, may let, for any term not longer than 21 years, land held by them for the use of a congregation or religious body, at the rent and on the terms the trustees or a majority of them think reasonable.

(2) In a lease under subsection (1), the trustees may agree to

(a) the renewal of the lease at the expiration of any or every term of 21 years for a further term of 21 years, or a shorter period, at the rent and on the terms as may then be agreed on with the lessee, the lessee's heirs, executors, administrators or assigns, or

(b) the payment to the lessee, the lessee's executors, administrators or assigns, of the value of any buildings or other improvements which may, at the expiration of any term, be on the rented premises.

(3) The method of determining the amount of the rent or the value of the improvements may be specified in the original lease.

Consent of congregation

5  (1) Trustees may not

(a) let property without the consent of the congregation or religious body for whose use they hold the land in trust, or

(b) let any land that at the time of making the lease is necessary for the purpose of erecting a church, place of worship or other building on it or for a burial ground for the congregation for whose use the land is held.

(2) The consent required under subsection (1) (a) is to be signified by the votes of a majority of the members present at a meeting of the congregation or religious body called for the purpose.

Power to acquire and deal with property

6  Trustees and their successors may

(a) acquire and hold as purchasers for the purposes of the congregation or religious body any land and personal property in British Columbia,

(b) mortgage, lease or let the property as mentioned, or sell, exchange or otherwise dispose of any land, or property held by them or any part or parts of it, and

(c) with the proceeds arising from a transaction under paragraph (b) acquire other land and other property for the use and purpose of the congregation or religious body.

Trustees statement of transactions

7  Trustees selling, mortgaging or leasing land under this Act must, on the first Monday in July in every year, have ready and open for the inspection of the congregation or religious body that they represent, and of any minister of it, a detailed statement showing

(a) all rents that accrued during the preceding year,

(b) all sums of money in their hands for the use and benefit of the congregation or religious body, and that were in any manner derived from the land under their control or subject to their management, and

(c) the application of any portion of the money that has been expended on behalf of the congregation or religious body.

Power of trustees to sue

8  The trustees for the time being entitled by law to hold land in trust for a congregation or religious body may

(a) in their own names or by any name by which they hold the land, maintain and defend actions for the protection of it and of their property in it,

(b) sue or distrain for arrears of rent, and

(c) take all means for the recovery of rent as landlords in other cases are entitled to take.

Control of trustees by court

9  (1) In a summary manner, on complaint on oath by 3 members of a congregation or religious body of any misfeasance or misconduct on the part of trustees in the performance of duties authorized by this Act, the Supreme Court may

(a) call on the trustees to give an account, and

(b) enforce the rendering of the account, the discharge of any duties and the payment of any money, so that the congregation or religious body may have benefit of the account.

(2) The court may

(a) if there is misconduct, compel the trustees to pay the expense of the application, or

(b) award costs to the trustees if the application is made on grounds that the court considers insufficient, frivolous or vexatious.

Location of burial grounds

10  Nothing in this Act empowers any trustees of any religious body to occupy or use land for burial purposes within the limits of any town or city in British Columbia.