The old First Presbyterian Church in Port Colborne is headed towards rehab as a seniors housing complex. – Torstar File Photo

Church conversion to seniors housing gets boost from city hall in Port Colborne

A former church in Port Colborne is one step closer to being transformed into a seniors housing complex, after council approved an amendment to its downtown community improvement program (CIP).

The city’s downtown CIP runs from West Street to Fieldon Avenue, jutting around various streets in the downtown core. It cuts across Elm Street, but unfortunately for the owner of the old church, the CIP only includes the north side of the street. The church sits on the south side, just outside the CIP, which means there are a host of tax incentives and rebates which the property is not eligible to apply for.

The property was purchased by Michael Smith after the First Presbyterian Church left the building last year. Smith went to city hall in February and asked that the border of the CIP be extended slightly south to include the church.

A report from city staff examined the CIP boundary request, and recommended the church be added to the area. Putting the church inside the boundary aligns with the CIP goal to, “target areas in transition or in need of repair, rehabilitation and redevelopment; facilitate and encourage community change in a co-ordinated manner; and stimulate private sector investment through municipal incentive based programs,” according to the report from staff.

At a public meeting held earlier this summer about the proposed change, no members of the public spoke against the change, and no members of council voiced any opposition when it came to council in August.

With the red tape taken care of, work can begin on converting the old church to a seniors residence. Smith said once the building is renovated, it will house between 18 and 23 units, ranging from bachelors, one- and two-bedroom units and several loft-style units.

by James Culic
Originally posted here: