Wigwamen’s New Affordable Housing Project
The construction of our new 92-unit affordable housing project at 20 Sewells Road in Scarborough is now complete and the building is occupied. Thank you to all the donors of the project.
Be sure to check out our photo galleries on the left side of this page – for a photographic chronicle of the amazing Sewells Road project, from start to finish!
Official Opening Ceremony – March 30, 2007
The long-anticipated Official Opening Ceremony for Wigwamen Waabnong at 20 Sewells Road took place on March 30, 2007.
Numerous dignitaries were in attendance, including federal MP and Minister responsible for CMHC, Monte Solberg; provincial MPP, Brad Duguid; provincial MPP, Bas Balkisoon; and City of Toronto Councillor, Raymond Cho. CMHC was well represented with several staff in attendance, and Wigwamen Board members, staff, tenants and media filled the remainder of the community worship room.
After the speeches, the unveiling of the Donor’s plaque, and the ribbon cutting, refreshments catered by Druxy’s were available to all. See our photo gallery at the left for a taste of this exciting day!
20 Sewells Road wins CMHC’s
"Best Practices in Affordable Housing" award, 2006!
On November 5, 2006, Angus Palmer and Bill Kinoshameg travelled to Ottawa to attend Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation’s (CMHC) annual housing awards ceremony. As President of the Board of Directors, Bill proudly accepted the "Best Practices in Affordable Housing" award for 20 Sewells Road on behalf of Wigwamen Incorporated.
Read CMHC’s official News Release and Project Profile here.
Read about the approval of this affordable housing project: Media Release, October 1, 2002.
On October 7, 2003, nineteen months after Wigwamen Incorporated first submitted its proposal to the City of Toronto for the development of 20 Sewells Road, eight members of the Design and Development Committee gathered at Wigwamen’s Board room to open tenders for the construction of our proposed ninety-two unit housing project.
Tension was high as Architect Charles Rosenberg opened the tender packages, with each one of us knowing that, if the bids were too high, it could mean the end of our dream.
Based on information from our cost consultants, we had budgeted $10,685,000 for the cost of construction, but we knew that over the six weeks since our last estimate had been received, the cost of building materials had climbed inexorably, threatening to price our project out of existence.
Methodically, each tender package was opened and examined by Charles, and the amount read out. Tenders from four pre-qualified contractors were received, ranging from a whopping $14,000,000 on the high end, to $11,585,000 on the low end, still a full $900,000 more than we had budgeted.
There’s no doubt that $900,000 is a lot of money, but to have dreamt so much, to have worked so hard, to have come so close…none of us were going to let it go.
Since that evening, the Committee, our Architect, and our Development Consultant have been in discussions with the low bidder, Harbridge and Cross, with a view to fine-tuning their costs; Wigwamen has committed to increasing the size of its mortgage; and, perhaps most importantly, we’ve committed to raising, and contributing, over half a million dollars more.
On November 6th, 2003, a full five hundred and forty seven days from when we first submitted our proposal to the City, a letter of intent was issued to Harbridge and Cross stating in part that “…Wigwamen Incorporated has accepted your bid and has authorized you to proceed with the work immediately…” As I write this article, earth-moving equipment is on the site, the ground’s been broken, and in early 2005, ninety-two families will be moving into brand new, affordable homes.
Angus Palmer, General Manager
As part of the development approval process, Wigwamen Incorporated is required to obtain permission from the Committee of Adjustment for a number of minor variances from the zoning by-law which governs the permitted uses of 20 Sewells Road.
The sign, which is pictured in the Committee of Adjustment hearing photo to the left, was erected on the site by one of our Architects, Charles Rosenberg, and informs the community of the Committee of Adjustment hearing to be held February 12, 2003 at the Scarborough Civic Centre. It reads in part:
Minor Variance from the Zoning By-Law for 20 Sewells Road, to permit:
- a total of 46 on-site parking spaces, whereas the Zoning By-law requires 129 parking spaces for this project;
- maximum gross floor area of 77 square meters (829 square feet) for 2 bedroom units, whereas the Zoning By-Law requires 2 bedroom units to have maximum gross floor area of 75 square meters (808 square feet); and
- bachelor and 4-bedroom units, whereas the Zoning By-Law does not permit bachelor and 4-bedroom units.
Wigwamen is very pleased to report that our minor variances were approved without a hitch, as General Manager Angus Palmer details below:
GENERAL MANAGER’S REPORT:
Committee of Adjustment Meeting
Before coming to Wigwamen Incorporated in 1998, I had spent roughly 15 years of my life working to develop non-profit and co-operative housing projects, many of which, it is fair to say, were not always welcomed with open arms by the surrounding community when they were first proposed.
For that reason, I’ve been quite favourably impressed by the reception given to Wigwamen Incorporated by residents in the area of 20 Sewells Road. As mentioned, for instance, in the January edition of “Wigwam to Wigwam,” our presentation to our neighbours at a meeting on December 4th was warmly received.
Even with that reception, however, I was more than a little nervous when Wigwamen went before the Committee of Adjustment for consideration of a number of minor variances to the zoning by-law on February 12, 2003. In my experience, minor variances are often a trigger for people to voice their dissatisfaction with the whole idea of non-profit housing, and not simply a chance to comment on the planning issues.
With that in mind, we came prepared. We had our Development Consultant, Ed Starr, our solicitor, Ron Crane, our Secretary-Treasurer, Valerie Kendall, both of our Architects, Steve Hilditch, and Charles Rosenberg, a representative from Marshall Macklin Monaghan who had completed our parking study, and myself. And we had a letter of support for the minor variances from local Councillor, Raymond Cho.
The meeting in the Council Chambers of the Scarborough Civic Centre started at 2:00 p.m., with Wigwamen’s application number ten on a list of roughly 25 applicants. The first eight applications were approved with no dissent. I began to feel optimistic. When the Committee came to the ninth applicant, however, they set it aside for further consideration. My heart beat just a little bit faster…
The Chair of the Committee then moved onto our application, asking those in the audience whether anyone was prepared to speak to the application. Ron Crane rose to identify himself as being present on behalf of Wigwamen.
“Is there anyone else present,” the Chair enquired, “…who wished to speak to the application?” We all held our breaths. No one rose to speak. I let out a sigh of relief.
But wait…the Chair was not done with us yet. “If it’s acceptable to the applicant,” said the Chair “we would like to attach a condition to our approval.” Now they really had our attention! “Would it be acceptable to you, if this variance was only valid as long the site is used for transitional/affordable housing and place of worship uses?” “Agreed,” said Ron Crane, without missing a beat.
Down went the Chair’s gavel, and we were done, our minor variance approved, subject only to the possibility of an appeal to the Ontario Municipal Board within twenty days.
The days between February 12, 2003 and March 4, 2003 passed quickly, but all of us, it is safe to say, stayed on edge, hoping against hope that there would not be an appeal of the decision.
On March 5th, 2003, the Committee of Adjustment officially informed us – there were no appeals.
We’re on our way!