OMB gives All Saints green light to demolish downtown Hamilton church
A downtown congregation has won a battle with local heritage advocates to demolish its more-than-century-old church and construct affordable housing.
The Ontario Municipal Board delivered a decision to dismiss appeals made by a group of Hamiltonians looking to stop two “minor variances” that exempted the All Saints Anglican Church project from zoning restrictions for parking and building height.
“The members of the All Saints Anglican Church are excited about continuing to move this project forward so they can get on (with) the mission that they know they’re called to,” said Michael Patterson, the Anglican Diocese of Niagara’s executive officer.
“It’s going to be a wonderful asset to the downtown core of Hamilton. It will help with the ongoing renewal of the downtown area.”
The Synod of the Diocese of Niagara and the Hamilton nonprofit corporation Options for Homes plan to demolish the 140-year-old church on Queen Street South near King Street West and build a 12-storey affordable housing apartment building in its place.
The main level of the new facility would be used by the congregation for worship and ministry.
The developers requested a minimum of 69 parking spaces instead of 87 and a maximum height of 12 floors as opposed to six. The city’s committee of adjustment granted the requests in 2010.
But appellants Diane Dent, Robin McKee and, previously, Matt Jelly — who withdrew his appeal before the decision — argued the variances were not “minor” because they would be incompatible with the church’s surroundings and overburden the neighbourhood.
Dent was out of the country and unavailable for comment on Monday. McKee did not return calls for comment on the OMB decision.
Jelly said he withdrew his appeal because the developers’ revised sun and shadow analysis satisfied the Downtown Hamilton Secondary Plan. He said he hoped the developers would incorporate as much of the site’s history into the final product.
Patterson said the church plans to maintain the “historical integrity” of the building by including some of the historic stained-glass windows, the organ, portions of the brick work, the woodwork in the interior of the church and many of the sacramental vessels in the finished facility.
The aging building was “paralyzing” the congregation because of mounting costs, he added.
They not know when the demolition will begin, but are in the final stages of conducting studies for the project, Patterson said. “The big hurdle was the OMB hearing. Now, we’re moving ahead in earnest of getting things done.”