By Sue Stefko
The Glebe Annex has been buzzing with development activity of late. In a community three blocks across by four blocks deep, we are expecting the construction of a 16-storey seniors’ residence, a seven-unit apartment building, a 3.4-acre multi-tower Canada Lands Corporation development and a supportive housing residence and training facility. With fences, signs, drilling and other activity at each of these sites, many have been wondering which will be the first to emerge.
It seems it could be the John Howard Society (JHS) supportive housing for the chronically homeless. Even before site plan approval was received in early June, the JHS hired Taggart Construction to conduct a pre-excavation survey to determine what kind of geological conditions they would deal with when it came time to build. The good news from that survey is that no blasting is expected on the site, which is a relief to nearby homeowners.
At time of writing, the JHS was still waiting for a building permit to allow construction but was hoping it could begin by the end of August. The start of construction will also launch the soil remediation process, which is expected to take about two weeks.
This build will take place somewhat differently from a standard construction project. While the base will be constructed in the usual manner, a modular process will be used for the tower. It will be constructed off-site in modules that will be transported to the site to be integrated into the building. This will mean fewer construction workers and less noise and activity in the neighbourhood during this portion of the build. It will also speed up the construction timeline. The JHS expects this method will cut the timeline for construction from the projected 22 months to about 14 months, a significant reduction. This would make occupancy possible as early as fall 2021. This is the best-case scenario, however, as we have seen COVID-19 extend many projects, due to delays in processing and approvals, difficulties in finding available labour and other factors.
The building approved during the site-plan approval process is very similar to what was initially proposed. It will be a six-storey building, with a total of 40 one-bedroom and bachelor units. In the podium, there will be office space, building administration and education and counselling services. There was one change to the exterior of the building, however. In the site-plan documents, the JHS only showed one terrace, on top of the podium at the front (west side) of the building. During the process, another terrace was added. It will also be on the top of the podium, at the back (east side) of the building. Because of its proximity to the Lakelander condominium, this terrace will only be available to staff. Smoking will not be permitted, and there will be privacy screening in place.
The JHS is pleased to move to the next step in this process. “With the site plan approval in place, we are one step closer to making the Glebe Annex our home base, something we are very much looking forward to,” noted Tyler Fainstat, the executive director of the JHS.
Sue Stefko is president of the Glebe Annex Community Association.