This past weekend, St. Monica's Parish and Collecdev held a public meeting to discuss in-depth the ongoing Zoning Bylaw Amendment process for the redevelopment of the 1959-built romanesque church in Toronto's Yonge and Eglinton area. President Maurice Wager along with lead architect on the project, Marianne McKenna from KPMB, were both on hand to present progress on the redevelopment of the church, and to address the community's concerns. 

Current exterior of St. Monica's Church, image by Ryan Debergh

Submitted to the City in July, 2019, the project at 44 Broadway Avenue proposes the reconstruction of St. Monica's Parish with a modern facility fronting the street and a 44-storey condo tower abutting the structure to the north.

Looking north-east to St. Monicas Church on Broadway Avenue, image courtesy of C

Reaction to the design of the new structure was mixed, with some parishioners impressed with the modern details which highlight an increased use of natural light, transparency, and offer more facilities for community-based events. Others found the modern design direction to be 'cold' as the renderings did not feature many of the sacred statues and art pieces that characterize the existing sacred space. These particular parishioners did not feel that they were consulted adequately, and were looking for ways to provide more formal feedback to influence the design. Pastor Fr. Damian Young-Sam-You responded, stating he personally selected a diverse committee of parishioners who were intended to represent all subsections of the congregation who, as a group, informed the majority of the design language. 

Marianne McKenna presents the design features of the development, image by Ryan Debergh

Concerns were also addressed regarding the future ownership structure of the land, intended for after the redevelopment. Wager clarified that following the acceptance of the Zoning Bylaw Amendment by the City, Collecdev would obtain ownership of the north end of the site, where the condominium portion of the project would be located, as well as the below-grade parking component. Ownership of the church component would be retained by the Archdiocese of Toronto, while and a set of easements would be convened to allow both residents of the condo tower and members of the catholic community to be provided circulation off Broadway Avenue to both entrances and underground parking access. The co-use of this access space was concerning to some parishioners, afraid that the presence and activities of these new condo residents would stand in conflict with the sacredness of the adjacent religious space.

Sacred space at St. Monicas Church, image courtesy of Collecdev

Questions were also asked about the proposed timeline, where church operations would occur during the construction period, and if green technologies would be used to keep operating costs down long term. The developer and church administration stated it was too early in the process to provide concrete answers for those concerns, but that the information would be communicated as the project processes.

In all, the tone of the meeting reflected that the redevelopment is an ongoing process in building the relationship between the parish community and the development team, and that the comments and concerns received today would help to shape the continued evolution of the project.

Additional information and images can be found in our Database file for the project, linked below. Want to get involved in the discussion? Check out the associated Forum thread, or leave a comment below.

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Related Companies:  Collecdev, NAK Design Strategies