How can parishes in our diocese use their lands to create affordable housing and build community?
In 2019, Synod adopted a motion to develop an affordable housing plan for the diocese, to “determine the feasibility of building affordable housing on diocesan-owned lands; prioritize strategic partnerships with industry experts in the fields of planning, development and affordable housing provision; and to establish specific achievable targets (e.g. 250 units by 2024).”
The diocese’s Property Working Group is working toward presenting an affordable housing plan to Synod this November. While the group determined that setting a target for a specific number of units by a certain date, without considering the needs of the local neighbourhood and worshipping community, was arbitrary at this stage, it is developing a framework for property development while encouraging parishes to assess their own situation and, where appropriate, consider alternate uses of their property, including affordable housing.
To that end, the working group, together with diocesan staff and the Rev. Dr. Jason McKinney, has been offering a series of online meetings to educate parishes and encourage them to explore potential redevelopment options. The first event, “Common Ground and the Common Good: Church Redevelopment in the Diocese of Toronto,” was held on June 12. The online workshop included an exploration of the theology of land use and examples of recent successful housing developments on church land. There was also discussion of what help the diocese could offer parishes through the redevelopment process. The event was designed especially for clergy and lay leaders of parishes that are considering redevelopment, but it also welcomed anyone in the diocese with an interest in creating affordable housing.
The June event was followed up by a series of summer seminars that took interested parish leaders deeper into specific aspects of the redevelopment process, such as getting a congregation on board, seeking out partnerships for building and operating housing units, securing funding and more. A final event is planned in September for parishes planning to take the next steps in pursuing redevelopment. To register for the last Common Ground and the Common Good session, visit toronto.anglican.ca/events.