September 20, 2022 – Kingston City Council approved a plan to provide up to $50,000 from its Affordable Housing Capital Subsidy budget to examine the possibility of a community housing hub in the downtown area, to be known as Providence Commons.
The area is space that will be vacated by Providence Care’s Providence Manor long-term care home once a new home is built at 1200 Princess St. as part of Providence Village. The existing home is owned by the Sisters of Providence of St. Vincent de Paul, who want to ensure the block bound by Sydenham, Bay, Montreal and Ordnance Streets which includes the 243-bed long-term care home, a commercial kitchen, a chapel and the original Motherhouse of the Sisters does not sit vacant.
Since 2019, consultants working with Providence Village Inc. (PVI) have undertaken initial planning to determine if the creation of a community hub with a focus on providing affordable and market rental housing and complementary community services would make sense. This work was funded by the Sisters. PVI’s preliminary feasibility report suggests 184 units of different sizes accommodating 230 individuals could be supported.
“We discovered there was an appetite to repurpose the buildings and an early indication that this ambitious project should be pursued further,” noted Laurie French, PVI President and Chief Executive Officer. The next phase of feasibility planning will include a substantial amount of planning, design, and analysis to ensure the project is technically feasible and financially viable.
Funding approved by council will be used by PVI to conduct needed study and applications to advance the project and enable PVI to ultimately access Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation pre-development funding.
“We recognize the incredible opportunity and need that exists for sustainable affordable housing options in the downtown area with access to a supportive hub of community services,” French says. “The support received to date from neighbours and supporters of the project is essential – we are particularly grateful for the support of the Kings Town Affordable Housing Working Group, now named Friends and Neighbours of Providence Commons.”
PVI’s work is centred around key strategic objectives for the site which the Sisters have articulated. They include:
- Providing a mix of housing and community programs
- Focusing on vulnerable women and women-led families
- Realizing the mission through collaboration and partnerships
- Creating places and opportunities for people to come together
- Celebrating the heritage of the site, in particular the chapel
- Maintaining and enhancing green space
- Being a financially sustainable project