Terwillegar homeless residence dropped by church

The Anglican Diocese is withdrawing from a controversial residence for the homeless proposed on land owned by the church in Terwillegar.
The 60-unit project was proposed for a piece of land next to Holy Trinity Riverbend Anglican Church in Terwillegar. (CBC)

The Anglican Diocese is withdrawing from a controversial residence for the homeless proposed on land owned by the church in Terwillegar.

The diocese had entered into a memorandum of understanding with Jasper Place Health and Wellness to build the 60-unit building next to Holy Trinity Riverbend Anglican Church.

However, the project was strongly opposed by some who live in the southwest Edmonton neighbourhood over fears about safety and decreased property values.

The church has decided to drop the project and start over again on the same parcel of land.

"We don't think it's the right project at the right time," said Jane Alexander, bishop of the Anglican Diocese of Edmonton.

"We're committed to doing something on that land which will help us to commit to our responsibility in the 10-year plan to end homelessness but we don't think this is the right project."

Alexander said the consultation process was flawed so people in the community will never accept the project in its present form.

In September, members of the Terwillegar Towne Homeowners Association approved the expenditure of up to $35,000 in legal fees to fight the project.

In a written statement released Tuesday afternoon, executive director Steve Simala Grant said his group is willing to work to "make a valuable contribution" to any future projects. 

"We look forward to doing our part to continue engaging our members and community in a way that supports the Anglican Church's aim to identify and implement a project that will be successful for all involved -- most importantly, those directly affected by homelessness and poverty in our city," he said. 

Alexander told CBC News she was surprised and "somewhat horrified, to be honest" at the intensity of the opposition to the project.

While the majority seemed frustrated over the process, some were unwilling to put up with any project and were much more aggressive, she said.

"Lots of people were aware of the graffiti that ended up on the church, public statements that have been less than helpful, (but there was also) some bullying, lobbying, some threats of violence, threats of disrupting church services," she said.


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