Church gets new life as affordable housing, community space in Winnipeg’s West End
Karen Rocznik, CTV Winnipeg
Published Friday, March 6, 2015 5:19PM CST
Last Updated Friday, March 6, 2015 6:37PM CST
The West End Commons officially opened its doors to the public Friday. The space was formally the St. Matthew’s Anglican Church in the city’s West End neighbourhood.
The new space is now home to a total of 26 one, two, three and four-bedroom affordable housing units, six of which are wheelchair accessible.
There’s also a food bank, indoor child’s play area, resource centre and smaller worship area.
The $7.3 million project was funded by the city, province and federal government as well as fundraising efforts by the community.
Reverend Cathy Campbell of St. Matthew’s said she’s overwhelmed by the support.
“I want to give my head a shake and say, ‘Is this really true?’”
Ten years ago, the church was at risk of closing its doors after mounting repair bills and a dwindling congregation.
But now, Campbell said the church has a new lease on life and is giving families in the area a fresh start.
“Twenty-five of the 26 units are occupied. There’s kids, there’s families,” said Campbell.
Those families are made up of newcomers to Canada, First Nations people and those living with mental health issues.
Craig Sharpe and his wife Linda live in one of the apartments. They also volunteer with the church and were married in the chapel.
They both live on assistance and deal with anxiety and depression.
“Now that we’re grounded and building ourselves back up, I have a feeling, there’s a chance,” said Craig.
“There’s hope,” added Linda.
Developed by the St. Matthew’s Non-profit Housing Inc., the project has one more renovation left, developing an outdoor children’s play area and a greenspace, which will be accessible for everyone in the area.