A rendering by Hobin Architecture shows Southminster United Church in Old Ottawa South after its rear annex is replaced with a condo building and townhouses.
David Reevely, Ottawa Citizen
A zoning quirk could let an Old Ottawa South church shore up its finances by building a six-storey condominium overlooking the Rideau Canal.
Southminster United overlooks the canal just west of the Bank Street Bridge. If you’re skating toward Dow’s Lake on a winter afternoon, you can see its stained glass glowing in the sun.
The church and the stained glass are staying. But what’s going, conditional on city council’s approval, are a two-storey addition at the back and a side yard. They’ll be replaced with a small set of townhouses and a six-storey condo building wrapping around the northwest corner of the church, with million-dollar views of the canal. The developer is Windmill, the same company that has worked with the Anglican Church on building condos around Christ Church Cathedral at the west end of Sparks Street and is redeveloping the industrial islands in the Ottawa River north of LeBreton Flats.
To let this happen, though, city council will have to rezone the parcel from “institutional” use for the church to “traditional mainstreet” like most of Bank Street, which allows four-to-six-storey residential and commercial buildings. What’s tricky about this is that the main church is what actually faces Bank; the land to be redeveloped is at the far end of the property, well away from the main street.
Furthermore, just a few years ago the city approved a heritage-protection bylaw covering the houses that face the canal there — every single one of them between Bank Street and Bronson Avenue, except for the church, whose institutional zoning made it different, less susceptible to redevelopment. Till now.