Common ground: Winnipeg church plans affordable housing on site of parish hall

The West Broadway Commons is a planned 12-story, 110-unit building that will offer a mix of market-rate and affordable housing, with commercial space on the ground floor. Photo: Rendering by Number Ten Architectural Group
Published May 13, 2019

This is the second post in a four-part series. Read the previous instalment here.

At All Saints Anglican Church in Winnipeg, Man., the parish hall is coming down.

The hall, which sits on a downtown intersection across from the provincial legislative building, was built in 1964. Over the intervening decades, it has become “worn out,” according to the Rev. Brent Neumann, rector at All Saints.

There will be some sadness in the congregation when the building is demolished at the end of May, he says—after all, there are parishioners who were there to see it built in the 1960s.

“But…to put a million dollars into a building that still would not serve the needs of the community, why would you do it?” he asks.

Instead, plans are moving forward for a new building, of an entirely different sort, to be erected where the parish hall now stands.

The West Broadway Commons is a planned 12-story, 110-unit building that will offer a mix of market-rate and affordable housing, with commercial space on the ground floor.

Fifty-six units will be designated as affordable housing, 45 units will be rented at market rate and nine will be premium rate.

The idea, says David Wilson, chair of All Saints’ Housing Development Committee, is for the market- and premium-rate units to subsidize the affordable units, ensuring the building’s long-term financial sustainability. But there are other motives, too. Affordable and market-rate units will be mixed throughout each floor, so that there is no obvious distinction between the two.

“It’s a model that people who live down here really appreciate…a place where there’s no stigma attached,” says Neumann.

“We want to create a ‘community in a box,’ where people get to know one another within the rental complex, help one another,” says Wilson. To this end, the proposed building has numerous common spaces, including a common room, gym, lounge and outdoor patio.

“We were looking to not just put up a commercial rental building with commercial facilities on the main floor. We were looking at how we could address the needs of the West Broadway community, which is in need of…good rental units and affordable rental units,” says Wilson.

It’s becoming common for houses in the neighbourhood to be bought and renovated, spiking rental prices, says Neumann. “About 60% of the people living in our neighbourhood are single parents, and a lot of them are living paycheque to paycheque.” When rents suddenly increase, these families are at risk, he says.

“This is a major undertaking. It’s a $30 million project.” Photo: Rendering by Number Ten Architectural Group

The West Broadway Commons is partnering with several not-for-profit organizations to provide housing and support for high-need tenants, including Villa Rosa (new mothers), MacDonald Youth Services, New Journeys Housing (newcomers and refugees) and New Directions (adults with developmental delay).

Wilson says he is thankful that the diocese of Rupert’s Land has been supportive. “This is a major undertaking. It’s a $30 million project.”

The church’s business partner is the University of Winnipeg Community Renewal Corporation, a not-for-profit that develops mixed-use and mixed-income housing projects. In addition to mortgage financing and various government grants, part of the project’s finances come from All Saints, which raised $600,000, Wilson says.

The building will also meet a Silver LEED standard, 30% above the 2015 National Energy Building Code, Wilson says, and 30% of the units will be barrier-free and fully accessible for those with disabilities.

As society changes, Wilson thinks that it’s important for churches to assess what can be done with their buildings. “There’s got to be a lot of valuable land that churches are sitting on. And I’m not talking about being profitable, here. I’m talking about, what do we do to make society a better place to live?

West Broadway Commons is expected to break ground in 2019, with completion in 2021.


  • Joelle Kidd

    Joelle Kidd was a staff writer for the Anglican Journal from 2017 to 2021.

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