Addressing critical community needs

St. Andrew’s United Church

Together with Catalyst Community Developments Society, and Simon Fraser Society for Community Living (with SHARE Family and Community Services), St. Andrew’s United Church in Port Moody is pursuing a vision for a re-development of their existing Church property that will greatly benefit the Tri-Cities community. The new space will serve the mission of St. Andrew’s and their work in the community, and will include new multipurpose church and community space, 55 affordable rental homes as well as program and administrative space for the delivery of early childhood intervention programs.

The Church property occupies a prominent site fronting onto St. John’s Street and backing onto Spring Street in Port Moody, just five blocks from the new Port Moody Skytrain station (and WestCoast Express). Throughout its long history, the Church has partnered with community groups and other churches to support initiatives that address poverty, homelessness and other social challenges in the community. With their awareness of rising need for community services, strong non-profit organizations, and affordable housing; the congregation began to look at its property as a new opportunity to create a community of comprehensive uses and occupants in a financially sustainability way.

With the support of the BC Conference, an administrative and service-delivery body of the United Church, the Church entered into a joint venture partnership with Catalyst Community Developments Society to undertake a project that will radically transform the existing church property from a large parking lot and modest church building into a 70,000 square foot mixed-use complex including a multi-functioning church space, affordable rental apartments and townhouses, the 22,500 sq. ft. Tri-Cities Children Centre, as well as a shared entry atrium, court yard and green space.

With a clear vision and concept in place, Vancity Community Foundation contributed $25,000 for business plan development and, along with Vancity, a pre-development loan to help the project move forward with the work needed to secure the required approvals and capital for construction.

In March 2017 BC Housing announced a $5 million investment toward the $26 million dollar project. At completion St. Andrews United will own the new church and a portion of the rental homes, Simon Fraser Society will own and operate the Children’s Centre and Catalyst Community Development Society will own the remaining rental homes and will oversee operations of the complex. Together, the partners will ensure that 100% of this asset will remain in community ownership.

This project is an inspiring example of how a faith-based organization can leverage its land and partner with other community organizations to help address critical community needs such as affordable housing; while meeting its own real estate needs, securing future financial resilience, and retaining an important property in community hands.