Edmonton

Low-income housing project proposed for contentious site in Terwillegar

A southwest Edmonton church is again spearheading a low-income housing development in Terwillegar, six years after community opposition derailed a supportive housing project for the homeless on the same property.

'It's a different project ... it's also a different process'

Holy Trinity Riverbend Anglican Church in Edmonton is planning to construct a low-income housing complex on its property. (Google Images)

A southwest Edmonton church is again spearheading a low-income housing development in Terwillegar, six years after community opposition derailed a supportive housing project for the homeless on the same property.

Holy Trinity Riverbend Anglican Church is partnering with Right at Home Housing Society, an Edmonton-based non-profit, to develop a large parcel of land adjacent to the church near 14th Avenue and 156th Street.

The church has been trying unsuccessfully to develop affordable housing on the property since 2013.

Anne Stevenson, Right at Home Housing Society chair, said this time they will win over their neighbours.

"It's a different project," Stevenson said in an interview Tuesday with CBC Radio's Edmonton AM.

"It's focused on families which really fits with the nature of the neighbourhood.

"It's also a different process. We've already had the opportunity to go out and meet with some of the key community groups and we're excited to continue that conversation.

"We want to be the best neighbours we can."

'Nothing is set in stone'

The concept designs for the proposal include 154 housing units. About 25 per cent of the units will be provided at below market rental rates to meet the needs of lower income tenants. The remaining 75 per cent will be offered at market rate to offset costs and eliminate the need for ongoing government grants.

In addition to housing, the site will have worship and community space and other community amenities like a daycare and a café.

If constructed, the proposed complex would have the capacity to house up to 200 people.

"Our goal is to provide a range of suites for a range of people but really focused on some of the larger suites that you really don't see a lot of," Stevenson said.

A 60-unit project proposed for a piece of land next to Holy Trinity Riverbend Anglican Church in Terwillegar was scrapped in 2013. (CBC)

In 2013, the diocese had entered into a memorandum of understanding with Jasper Place Health and Wellness to build a 60-unit supportive housing complex for homeless people on the same lot.

However, the project was strongly opposed by neighbouring residents over fears about safety, decreased property values and lack of community consultation. In September 2013, members of the Terwillegar Towne Homeowners Association approved the expenditure of up to $35,000 in legal fees to fight the project.

Two months later, the Anglican Diocese of Edmonton decided to drop the project and start over again on the same parcel of land.

Developers have been meeting with local community leagues and the homeowners association.

While there have been some concerns about parking and traffic, the feedback has been largely positive, Stevenson said.

After consulting with the community, Right at Home will hire a team to complete the designs for the site. If all goes as planned, construction could begin by 2020.

Developers are hosting an open house at 7 p.m. on April 24 inside the church building. Resident concerns shared over the coming weeks will help shape the final design, Stevenson said.

"We're just at the concept design phase. We're really keen to meet with the community," she said. "We're at the stage now where nothing is set in stone."

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