“This is a very exciting opportunity that offers a win-win-win-win solution,” says Right at Home Board Chair Anne Stevenson. The Terwillegar neighbourhood will benefit from more housing options, as well as investment and new amenities in their community. "Holy Trinity Riverbend will gain a “brand new, energy efficient church building that is fitted to meet the parish's needs”; while Right at Home gains “land and the opportunity to build new homes for Edmontonians.”
Holy Trinity Riverbend has been trying to develop affordable housing on their large property since 2013. In January, 2019, a resolution was passed by Diocese of Edmonton Executive Council “to grant permission to move forward with the redevelopment of the Holy Trinity Riverbend site, in partnership with Right at Home Housing Society, to develop a housing community that is designed to assist with the “End Homelessness” goals supported by the diocese.” The resolution was made following presentations by Patti Holmstrom, Land Development Chair, Holy Trinity Riverbend; and Anne Stevenson and Cam McDonald, executive director, Right at Home.
The design process is at an early stage and Right at Home says they have had a number of “positive meetings” with parishioners and different community organizations, including an open house, held April 24, at Holy Trinity Riverbend Anglican Church.
“So far, we have heard general support for the project, though there are concerns with traffic and parking that we will be looking at in more detail," says Stevenson. "We want to be sure we are the best neighbours possible.”
At the conclusion of all community consultations and once the Memorandum of Understanding between Right at Home and the Edmonton diocese has been signed, Right at Home will hire a team to complete the designs for the site, including traffic and parking impact assessments. These designs will then be submitted for a development permit. The project would then be able to start construction in 2020.
Stevenson says the first phase of the project will include the church building and the first set of houses. It is anticipated to be ready for opening about two years after starting construction.
The current concept includes 154 units, with the majority being two and three-plus bedroom units. The housing will be focused on families, with some units provided for seniors. In addition to housing, the site will have worship and community space, and other community amenities like a daycare and cafe. Outdoor greenspace and areas for community gardens will be provided. There is currently one parking space per unit, and 50 stalls for the worship and community space.
“We will be collaborating closely with the church to co-design the building together,” says Stevenson. “The current plans are to have room for about 200 people and it will be designed to be multi-functional. For example, we’ve heard from the neighbourhood that there is a need for halls that can be rented out for community events, so we would look to design a space that could be used for worship and celebration space.”
Right at Home hopes to incorporate many of the “great aspects” of the net-zero townhouse development it completed with Westmount Presbyterian Church in 2017, says Stevenson. These include large family units to help meet Edmonton’s need for affordable housing, as well as “high quality architecture and net zero principles to help reduce our utility needs and environmental impact.”
The project will be operated using a mixed income model. About 25 per cent of the units will be provided at below market rental rates to meet the needs of families and individuals on lower income. The other 75 per cent will be offered at market rental rates. This mix allows the project to be self-sustaining with no need for on-going government subsidies.
Stevenson says Right at Home is looking at a number of ways to help serve the needs of individuals and families, such as improved access to public transportation through bus routes and/or or shuttle services.
“We hope to learn from people attending the open house what concerns they have, and what types of amenities they’d like to see incorporated into the project,” she says.
“We are very grateful for the generosity and leadership of the Holy Trinity Riverbend Church and Bishop Jane in advancing this exciting project,” says Stevenson. “We are excited to build a lasting legacy together.”
Contact Anne Stevenson, Right at Home Board President, for more info: email@example.com or 780-423-1339.
EndPoverty Edmonton has produced a video on affordable housing with Cam McDonald, Executive Director of the Right at Home Housing Society. You can watch the video here.