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This article also appears in the December 2017 issue of the Diocesan Post.

One of my first challenges as asset manager was to meet with folks from St Peter and St Paul, Esquimalt to start the process of building renewal with them. Now, after several years and countless reports, meetings and input, the project has been submitted for rezoning with the Town of Esquimalt.

This journey has not been without a lot of study, concern and change to plans and process. Throughout, Lon Towstego has participated as an anxious “Shepherd” for his parish flock. Many have been involved deeply; the project is where it is thanks to Lon, Bob Brandle, Chris Pease, Ron Wall, the residents of the Hermitage, wardens and parishioners and many others sharing and working towards a solution that meets our diocesan vision.

That vision calls us to use our assets more effectively by sharing them more widely to create new community partnerships.The result is a new building concept which physically links a new ministry centre on the main floor of a new five-story building with the heritage church.

Finally, after 150 years, the church will have direct connection with its ministry centre. The church may be used for a lot more activities and the ministry centre can offer a wide range of services for public engagement. The upper four levels of the new building will provide 24 affordable rental units for independent seniors.  

Financing is being provided by the diocese and BC Housing through its Provincial Initiative for Affordable Housing. The diocese and CMHC have provided pre-development funding. Rogers Court Society is sponsoring the project as BC Housing requires “not-for-profit” Society sponsorship to qualify for funding.  

As the project proceeds through rezoning, it will require a Heritage Alteration Permit to connect the new building with the heritage church. It will also require subdivision of the property to protect the Hermitage Seniors Life Lease project located there, the diocese as underlying land owner, and BC Housing to secure it as project lender. Staff at the town of Esquimalt have been particularly helpful in recognizing the needs of this complex redevelopment project and offering suggestions for solving some challenging issues. They have recognized the need for affordable seniors’ rental housing. 

We have met with our neighbours. Now it is up to the community to offer its input through the rezoning process.  

Thanks to the team who has been so deeply involved with me on this journey—Barry Cosgrave and Sian Porter at Number Ten Architecture; John Dam of John Dam and Associates; Deane Strongitharm at City Spaces Consulting; Nathan Lampard, diocesan registrar; Catherine Pate, diocesan communications officer; and so many professional consultants and advisors.  

Importantly, Bishop Logan has played an instrumental role in conceptualizing this important new project by pushing us and the parish to understand the importance of our vision in connecting the new and the heritage church buildings. I think when you see the images for this project, you will find the result compelling and exciting.  

We all expect this project to energize the parish, residents of the new building and the Hermitage building and be a sustainable hub parish that will partner with the community. We anticipate that this flagship project may shape other new initiatives in this diocese. 

Contributor: Peter Daniel is asset manager for the diocese.

Photo: Architectural rendering by Number TEN Architectural Group