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The United Church & The Province of BC Partner to Provide Affordable Housing
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Changing demographics and dynamic ministries have increasingly made property issues significant to the life and work of the United Church. “It is a challenge of our age to re-define and re-imagine the use of our buildings and properties to continue living out our mission.” As congregations across British Columbia take on this challenge, the BC Conference Property Resource Team is available to provide leadership on property assessment and development matters.

Directed by Executive Secretary Doug Goodwin and mandated by the BC Conference Executive, the small team is led by Conference staff Terry Harrison in partnership with Justen Harcourt, a senior consultant with Colliers International Consulting Services, and legal advisor Cameron White from the firm of Derpak White Spencer LLP, along with other specialized consultants, as needed.

The team is available upon request to work with congregations and other ministries to re-purpose property assets into financial assets to serve new forms of congregational life now and for generations to come.

For decades it has become clear that the United Church is property rich, cash poor. In more recent years numerous congregations have explored the possibility of utilizing their property assets in more productive ways, providing facilities for mission as well as financial assets for congregational life. The task of assessing mission opportunities that might be enhanced by better using properties in alternative ways is a significant one. Even more difficult is the actual work of property development and redevelopment, sale, lease or other property use to achieve the discerned mission.

3-Point Portfolio: Affordable Housing Projects with BC Housing

The 3-Point Portfolio refers to a growing number of congregational properties that are being redeveloped by Conference in partnership with BC Housing. Each of these mixed-use redevelopments will result in custom-built, multi-purpose church space and purpose-built, affordable rental housing.

The portfolio approach enables Conference to leverage differently valued congregational property assets to allow the redevelopment of numerous projects. By financing projects as a portfolio – rather than as individual projects – congregational properties with lower land values can be redeveloped along with those congregational properties that have higher land values.

Each participating congregation receives a return that is commensurate with their own property value, but the portfolio approach means land-rich congregations enable the redevelopment of congregational sites that wouldn’t otherwise qualify for financing. This interdependent approach also creates efficiencies and cost-savings that benefit each of the participating congregations. In short, by doing it together, we can do it better. 3-Point is a reference to the trinitarian state of inseparable unity.

“I Can Do Things You Cannot, You Can Do Things I Cannot; Together We Can Do Great Things.”
– Mother Teresa

New Church Space

Each mixed-use redevelopment will feature custom-built church space, designed in consultation with congregational leaders. When completed, the title of each new church space will be held by the Trustees of each of the participating Congregations. These congregations will also receive an agreed upon annuity for no less than 35 years. With brand new space and an ongoing source of income, these Congregations will be in a better place to enliven and renew their ministry to meet the spiritual needs of future generations.

Space has always been the spiritual dimension of architecture. It is not the physical statement of a structure so much as what it contains that moves us.
– Arthur Erickson, Canadian architect and urban planner


Purpose-Built Affordable Rental Housing

The 3-Point Portfolio is designed to grow over time and will contribute hundreds of units of affordable market rental housing across four different cities in BC. BC Housing requires the rental rates to meet their affordability criteria, which states that at least 51% of the units must be priced to be affordable for middle income families and individuals. This amount is based on a threshold largely determined by Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation. CMHC collects data from across Canada to determine average income levels on a region-by-region basis, then they apply a factor that sets that the amount of rent paid for affordable housing should not exceed 33% of the average income for that region. On top of that, municipal governments each have their own affordability targets that must be factored into the rent rates, improving affordability even further.

When complete, the Housing will be owned by a Non-Profit Society, under the supervision of BC Conference (or its successor).

BC Conference is redeveloping a growing portfolio of congregational properties as part of a mixed-use affordable housing initiative in BC. Each site will be owned entirely by the United Church and will feature brand new multi-purpose church space as well as purpose-built rental housing.

Market Projects

BC Conference has partnered with two different Market Developers, who are redeveloping three congregational properties in BC. Each site will feature brand new multi-purpose church space. Two projects will feature strata condos, and the other features a community care facility.

Click HERE for more information the United Church initiative; Affordable Housing Projects with BC Housing.