Community Consultation

38 Walmer Road

Creating a welcoming accessible place while celebrating the rich history of the church, the site it sits on and the Annex community.

Back to Portfolio

This site is located in the heart the Annex, one of Toronto’s most dynamic and storied neighbourhoods. It is situated on traditional territory of many nations including the Mississaugas of the Credit, the Anishnabeg, the Chippewa, the Haudenosaunee and the Wendat peoples. 

The existing church was built in 1889 in near-empty plots surrounded by farmland. From the beginning, it has been a place of community and social innovation – where a food bank, theatre initiative, and Canada’s first co-located daycare all thrived and where a diversity of people came together for over a century.  

The redevelopment of the Walmer Road Baptist Church represents a once in a generation opportunity. It’s a chance to build upon the areas living heritage and create a beautiful neighbourhood landmark that serves the community.  

TAS, along with our partners the Walmer Road Baptist Church, has been working with a team of designers, heritage experts and planners to develop a bold new vision for this site. Our proposal seeks to bring the site into the future while celebrating the rich history of the church, the site it sits on, and the Annex community. It includes: 

  • Adaptive reuse of the sanctuary building, to include a new space for the Walmer Road Baptist Church and new commercial community hub.  
  • 162 new condominiums in a 20-storey building.  
  • A publicly accessible courtyard for residents and members of the local neighbourhood.  

The commercial community hub will be a welcoming, inclusive place that restores the sanctuary’s historical role as a place for community, connection and social innovation. 

The development of the condos will make it possible to build the new hub, congregation space and courtyard. 

We are excited to evolve this place at the corner of Lowther and Walmer in the Annex with and for the community and see this project as a tremendous example of our commitment to building for impact.

Renderings: Nineplusten

  • 35,488 square feet gross floor area 
  • 162 new homes, including a mix of 1, 2 and 3 bedrooms  
  • Unique design that includes a 20-storey tower, a sanctuary and a courtyard 
  • 5,500 square feet of privately owned public space  
  • 162 bike parking spots 

A New Hub for Community and Social Innovation   

The redevelopment of this site is centered around the adaptive reuse of the sanctuary to create a new commercial community hub. The hub will be an inclusive place that serves the local community and contributes to the vibrancy of the neighbourhood and city. We heard from the community about the importance of providing flexible, affordable space to host events, meetings, and activities.  Leveraging this input, we’re currently exploring the feasibility of a number of possibilities that will ensure the hub is both commercially viable and community enriching. 

Design Excellence that Celebrates Heritage and Prioritizes Accessibility  

This will be a truly unique and beautiful building – a landmark in the Annex neighbourhood.  The design restores the most architecturally significant and iconic parts of the existing church. The materials for the new residential building take cues from the existing sanctuary building and the architecture of the neighbourhood to create a thoughtful and sensitive design. The design also prioritizes accessibility, including the lowering of the main entrance to ground level, making the building both more inclusive and welcoming to the community.  The new courtyard will be an important community amenity that provides space for gathering, quiet reflection, and more.  

Honouring the Living Heritage of the Site 

TAS is committed to a more holistic, thoughtful, and equitable approach to heritage that includes the full living history of the site.  We engaged local historians, community experts, indigenous leaders, and residents in a series of discussions about the site’s history. We heard about the importance of honouring both the built form heritage, as well as the different stories and uses that have taken place on the site, including indigenous history.  We continue to engage with local champions who understand that history and help us integrate the living heritage into our plans for the sanctuary, courtyard and future programming.

Local artist Ophira Calof (she/they) and their team, in partnership with the ReelAbilities Film Festival of Toronto and ArtworxTO, projected a multi-media installation called Dis/Play onto the exterior walls of the Walmer Road Baptist Church. 

Architects:

Suulin & ZAS

Planning:

Bousfields

Heritage Architect:

ERA

Renderings:

nineplusten

Community consultation conducted in collaboration with:

PROCESS 

City of Toronto Development Application Portal (search by address, 38 Walmer Road) 

2020

TAS partners with Walmer Road Baptist Church 

Engagement with local stakeholders begins

Summer 2022

Rezoning and Site Plan applications 

Winter 2022

City-hosted Community Consultation Meeting*

Summer 2023

Final report to City Council *

2024

Construction starts*

*All future dates based on current estimates, timelines may change

TAS takes a ‘listen first” approach to community engagement. We started engaging with the local community in 2020, with the commitment to learn and incorporate a diversity of perspectives into the design and programming of the site.  

Our broad engagement process included a series of interviews, workshops, site tours, a survey and an art installation. We heard from a wide variety of groups and individuals about their vision for 38 Walmer Road. Some of the key themes were:  

  • Ensure that the sanctuary program is inclusive and equitable 
  • Prioritize the sanctuary’s role as a community space, and particularly as a multi-purpose meeting space 
  • Acknowledge and share diverse histories on the site 
  • Prioritize indigenous truth and reconciliation by partnering with local indigenous community members 
  • Design to a higher standard for accessibility outdoor spaces that might include gardens, seating and landscaping. 

The community input informed the vision for the redevelopment, particularly the plans for sanctuary and courtyard and will continue to inform our work as we develop more detailed plans for the commercial community hub.  

We’re tremendously grateful to all who participated in the process and shared their ideas about the future of 38 Walmer Road. 

Check out this video about our engagement process. Walmer Road Baptist Church Redevelopment Engagement on Vimeo 

We are currently working with our partners to refine the designs and plans for the site, with a focus on the community commercial hub and courtyard.  We will be engaging indigenous experts to help us incorporate indigenous histories and perspectives into the site design and programming. We also continue to share our plans with the community via presentations and townhalls.  

A fun community event is planned for Fall 2022 – stay tuned for details. 

TAS team members shared what we’ve learned through the community engagement process so far, and how those learnings are influencing our redevelopment plans.

Have a question or a great idea to share? Get in touch with us any time at info@38walmer.ca

The Walmer Church Congregation will share special memories and stories from the site’s history.