WoodGreen Community Services plans to build housing for seniors at Danforth Church site

·3 min read

WoodGreen Community Services has announced plans to develop a new seniors housing project by converting the site of the Danforth Church at 60 Bowden St.

The proposal integrates an eight-storey building into the existing Danforth Church, located on the southwest corner of Danforth Avenue and Bowden Street, as WoodGreen pushes to provide the city with more affordable housing.

“Many churches have recently been turned into condo developments and in this case, the church was keen not only to maintain their presence at the site, but to continue to enhance their contribution to community through this decision,” said a WoodGreen spokesperson.

The proposed building will have 50 units including two clusters of care (nine units each) that will provide meal services and round-the-clock staff supports for residents who require assistance with their daily activities.

The rest of the building will consist of studio and one-bedroom apartments, a commercial kitchen and a large gathering space that can be used both for community dining and by the congregation for worship and other community activities; a laundry room; a lounge area; and a landscaped courtyard.

“The majority of the inside will be removed to make way for new housing and community space. However, the new building will also incorporate the original sanctuary space in the new building and its original features,” said the spokesperson.

According to WoodGreen, the plans have received positive feedback from the community. In its current state of repair, the church isn’t being used for programs. But upon completion, “the church and community will return to utilize the new shared spaces”.

The WoodGreen spokesperson told Beach Metro Community News that the design will retain the church’s heritage façade while incorporating more modern elements to it as well.

The plan intends to keep the church’s two towers as well as its front face on Danforth Avenue as it currently is.

“We have contracted R-Hauz as the builder, manufacturer and developer,” said the WoodGreen spokesperson. “The development concept for the building includes installation of mass timber over the retained church basement in the northern half of the facility.”

This technique—using mass timber—is favoured for its environmentally-friendly, energy-efficient nature. The wood-based pre-fabricated building material also speeds up the development process which is advantageous for building affordable housing in a timely manner.

The project is expected to take only 12 months to reach completion, however, WoodGreen said that they will “continue to monitor and adjust timelines in the event of any changes”.

Along with support from donors, the 60 Bowden St. project has also received approval for capital funding under Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation’s (CMHC) Rapid Housing Initiative, as well as incentive waivers to make the project possible.

However, WoodGreen said that operational funding will be required from provincially funded services for clients with high needs.

“We will bring a holistic, integrated care and service model to the residents at 60 Bowden St.,” said the WoodGreen spokesperson.

WoodGreen is Toronto’s largest non-municipal affordable housing provider, owning and managing 1,000 affordable units across the city. Senior residents at this proposed building will be able to access the organizations full range of health and social supports from personal support workers (PSWs), social workers, recreational programs specialists, tax clinics, transportation services, and volunteers.

This will ensure that residents are “safe and living with dignity at home, prevent or delay admission to long-term care facilities, and reduce emergency visits and hospital admissions” says WoodGreen.

The building application is currently with the City of Toronto pending approval. Once approved by both the city and Committee of Adjustment, the demolition phase will then begin.

For more information and community updates on the 60 Bowden St. development plan, please visit https://www.woodgreen.org/welcome-to-60-bowden-st

Amarachi Amadike, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Beach Metro Community News