By Sue Stefko
(Appeared in the Glebe Report, August 2020)
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 that the John Howard Society (JHS) supportive housing for the chronically homeless will be the first out of the gate. 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 on the site when it came time to build. (The good news arising from that work is that no blasting is expected to occur on the site, which is a relief to nearby homeowners.)
At the time of writing, the JHS was still waiting for a building permit to allow it to start construction but was hoping construction could begin by the end of August. The start of construction will also launch the start of the soil remediation process, which is expected to take about two weeks. This will be followed by the start of actual construction.
This build will take place somewhat differently than one would see in 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 pieces/modules, allowing for more controlled conditions. The modules will be transported to the site to be integrated into the building. This will mean less construction workers, noise and activity in the neighbourhood for this portion of the build. It will also speed up the construction timeline. By using this method, the JHS expects that the timeline will be reduced from its projected 22 months to about 14 months, a significant reduction. This would make occupancy possible as early as fall 2021. This is the JHS’ best-case scenario, however, as we have seen COVID-19 extend the timing on many projects, whether due to delays in processing and approvals, difficulties in finding available labour, etc.
The building plan 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-bedrooom and bachelor units. In the podium, there will be office space, building administration and education and counselling services, all as envisaged. There was one change to the exterior configuration 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 to the plan. This will also be at the top of the podium, but this time at the back (east side) of the building. In recognition 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 to,” noted Tyler Fainstat, the Executive Director of the JHS.