Anglican Diocese of Ottawa to replace aging Bells Corners rectory with mixed-use housing project

Anglican Diocese of Ottawa build
A rendering of the Anglican Diocese of Ottawa's proposed new build at 3865 Old Richmond Rd.

The Anglican Diocese of Ottawa wants to tear down a rectory in Bells Corners and replace it with a four-level mixed-use building as part of a plan to construct affordable housing units at church properties across the city.

The rectory is located at 3865 Old Richmond Rd., next to Christ Church Bells Corners. The church, which was expanded from a small country chapel in the 1980s and now serves a parish of about 300 households, would combine with the new building to form a “community hub” offering housing and a range of services, said P.J. Hobbs, the director of mission for the diocese.

Under the proposal, the new four-level building would include up to 40 rental apartments ranging from bachelors to three-bedroom units. The units will be targeted mostly at low-income tenants, with some being rented at market rates, Hobbs added.

“The diocese has a real commitment towards using church property for missional purposes, particularly in the provision of affordable housing when it can work,” he said, adding the rectory hasn’t been occupied by clergy since the early 1990s and is now a satellite office for the Western Ottawa Community Resource Centre.

The resource centre would share space on the ground floor of the new building with the FAMSAC Food Cupboard. The first floor would include a commercial kitchen and offices for both organizations. A ground-level parking lot would have one space for each unit, with extra spots for visitors, the resource centre and the food cupboard in addition to the existing church parking.

Hobbs said the diocese is also looking at reserving some units in the new complex for tenants from Chrysalis House, a shelter run by the Western Ottawa Community Resource Centre for women and children who have experienced domestic violence. Other apartments could be set aside as transitional housing for residents of Cornerstone Housing for Women, a local agency that provides emergency shelter and safe affordable housing, he added.

Cahdco, a non-profit real estate development corporation and the sister company to the Centretown Citizens Ottawa Corp., is working with the diocese on the development application. The diocese has applied for assistance from Action Ottawa, a city-run agency funded by all three levels of government that provides fee relief and grants to developers who want to build affordable rental housing.

“It’s a real dynamic and encouraging confluence of partnerships that are making this all happen,” Hobbs said.

The property is currently zoned for institutional use, meaning the proposal will require council approval for an exemption allowing residential units on the site. In the site plan application, the diocese said it is aiming to have the building ready for occupancy by late 2021 or early 2022.

The Bells Corners site is just one of several church properties the diocese is considering as potential locations for affordable housing.

Last year, Hobbs told the Anglican Journal the organization is looking at tearing down or redeveloping existing churches in other parts of Ottawa ​– including Julian of Norwich Anglican Church in Nepean and Trinity Anglican Church in Old Ottawa South ​– as part of a goal to create at least 125 new affordable housing units in time for the diocese’s 125th anniversary celebrations in 2021.

Earlier this year, the diocese announced it had leased property it owns on Sparks Street to a Toronto developer that plans to build an 18-storey retirement residence.