VICTORIA MINES, CAPE BRETON -- A crucial step in saving a historic landmark in Cape Breton has now been completed.

The Canadian military has stepped in to replace the aging roof on the former St. Alphonsus Church, and the local community group that has been lobbying for its revival says they are only days away from ownership.

For more than 100 years the landmark has looked over the Sydney Harbour. It has sat vacant, in desperate need of repairs for the past 14 years.

The Canadian Armed Forces assistedwith the much needed renovations as part of a training exercise.

“It’s an opportunity for our soldiers to get the training they need and help a local community organization,” says Melanie Sampson of the Stone Church Restoration Society – the organization that has been lobbying to save the church for the past three years.

Sampson says it has been a long battle with the diocese of Antigonish, which has caused them to lose out on some key repair work.

“We’ve lost out on the opportunity for the military to have done the electrical work and the heating. So now we’re going to have to worry about the stone masonry work and we’ve missed on that opportunity as well. That can only be done between June and August,” she says.

The volunteer society agreed to a purchase price of $40 thousand dollars to buy the church from the diocese, and have had the funds raised for more than a year.

“We’ve received the paperwork for the access easement and we are just waiting for the paperwork where it’s actually mapped out on the survey plan, and they we’re able to sign and close,” says Sampson.

Now that the structure has a new roof, once the purchase is finalized the committee will be turning the facility into a wedding chapel and tourist attraction.

“I think it’s wonderful for the community and for Canada abroad. We are losing too many of our historical places which are part of our history – we have to preserve out history for the future.”

If all goes as plans the society should own the iconic structure by the end of the week

With files from CTV Atlantic’s Kyle Moore