Residents raise concerns about proposed condo's height, obstruction of heritage views of church
This architectural rendering shows the proposed condo and townhouses as seen from Galt Street. Southminster United Church can be seen behind them.
By Matthew Kupfer, CBC News
As Southminster United Church turns to a developer to help its finances, Old Ottawa South residents have raised objections about a proposed condominium's height and the obstruction of heritage views of the church itself.
Windmill Developments is behind the proposal, which includes four three-storey townhouses and a 14-unit, six-storey apartment building.
Church administrators made their case for looking for a development deal at an official public consultation held Monday night in the church basement at 15 Aylmer St.
Andrew Brewin, a member of the congregation in charge of the redevelopment, said the church is trying to make sure it can continue to operate as a place of worship and a community hub.
'Ultimately, it is survival'
"Ultimately, it is survival. Can our congregation pull together the resources, both financial and human, to be able to continue for the next 85-plus years?" Brewin asked.
"If we do this proposal, we will be able to do that. Otherwise, if we have to go back to the drawing board, it really is hard to see how we'll be able to draw the kind of energy that's needed to do that kind of work."
The church turned to redeveloping the site after attempts to get more money by renting church space came up short.
The church's financial shortfall happened in part because of overdue repairs to a hall that was built in 1955 and created a "drip, drip, drip" from the congregation's budget, Brewin said.
The value of the deal is "in the neighbourhood" of $2 million, he added.
Questions about height, obstructed views
Residents said they felt the church hadn't consulted enough prior to going to the developer, and that the church should have looked for alternatives to keep programs running.
Laura Urrechaga was among the 13 original members of Development Watch Southminster, a group that formed to organize people who were against Windmill's proposal.
"We as a community, want them to survive. But we want the importance of our heritage value to be maintained," Urrechaga said. "We do not want to be turned into Westboro."
Among the key issues is the height of the proposed building — six-storeys or about 19 metres — which is almost double what's allowed for neighbouring residential and commercial buildings, she said.