Anglican diocese looks to add affordable housing units to Nepean church property

Anglican church redevelopment
The Anglican Diocese of Ottawa is partnering with Multifaith Housing Initiative to redevelop a church property near Merivale Road.

The Anglican Diocese of Ottawa is partnering with a local charity to build a new house of worship near Merivale Road topped by a 57-unit affordable housing complex.

In an application recently filed with the city, the diocese and Multifaith Housing Initiative, a non-profit organization that provides affordable housing, are proposing to redevelop property that is currently home to Julian of Norwich Anglican Church at the corner of Withrow Avenue and Merivale Road.

Their plan calls for an eight-storey building facing Merivale Road that would include a new 2,400-square-foot place of worship on the ground floor and seven floors of “affordable apartment units.” 

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The proposal also includes a pair of three-storey buildings abutting Withrow and Rossland avenues that would accommodate 27 affordable stacked townhomes.

The current church building, which dates from the 1960s, and the church annex would be retained. The single-storey former rectory at the southwest corner of the site, which has been converted into an office, would be demolished to make way for new housing.

The development would include a total of 71 parking spaces. While current zoning bylaws require a minimum of 140 spaces, the proponents note that the city has granted exceptions to the bylaw in the past and recently waived parking requirements for a proposed affordable housing project less than 200 metres away on Capilano Drive.

“The rationale for the parking reduction is the site’s proximity to various services, frequent public transit, and direction of the Official Plan to consider alternative performance standards to support the development of affordable housing,” the application says.

Noting that Baseline Road, which is 700 metres away, is a major transit corridor, the applicants argue a “broad range of everyday services” is available within walking distance of the proposed development, including grocery stores, medical clinics, schools and recreational facilities.

“The infrastructure and space (either in land or interior space) required to accommodate vehicle parking is a considerable expense for any development,” the application adds. 

“In the case of affordable housing providers, the requirement to provide vehicle parking is a major factor limiting (financial or physical) the amount of affordable housing that can be accommodated on a site. Land that is allocated to accommodate vehicles cannot be used to house people.

“The unique nature of affordable housing communities is also a significant factor: vehicle ownership among residents in affordable housing units is generally lower than that of market-based housing.”

The applicants are also asking for an amendment to rezone the entire property, which is now partly zoned institutional, to arterial mainstreet in order to accommodate the housing development.

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