"The Connaught" - A North Hatley Seniors' Heritage
As a not-for-profit seniors' residence, Connaught Home has been a decades-long proud participant in and contributor to life in North Hatley. However major changes to Québec's building code were announced in 2014 (implemented in 2018) that effectively rendered the historical Connaught building as well as the former Grace Christian Home facility (now Grace Village) in Huntingville unusable as seniors' residences.
Faced with this challenge, in 2015 Massawippi Retirement Communities, which included both the Connaught and Grace Village, undertook an extensive community consultation initiative to determine the local seniors' housing needs, preferences and priorities.
The Vision For Renewal
Based on the positive feedback received from the community and a desire to ensure ongoing care and support for local seniors, the Massawippi Retirement Communities Board of Directors embarked on a large scale investment plan and Capital Campaign to transform Connaught and Grace Village into seniors' residences with state-of-the-art security, care capabilities and community-oriented resources. With the community feedback in hand Massawippi Retirement Communities developed a Vision For Renewal built around a two-phase implementation plan, since as a not-for-profit with funding entirely based on donations it was impossible to support redevelopment projects at both Connaught and Grace Village at the same time.
Phase One priority was given to complete the new Grace Village Care Pavilion in order to accommodate existing residents of both Connaught Home and Grace Village, with Connaught redevelopment to follow as quickly as funding would permit. The new Grace Village Care Pavilion opened in July 2017 and Massawippi Retirement Communities then applied for the necessary building permits to proceed with Phase Two, the partial demolition and reconstruction of the Connaught Home.
The Massawippi Retirement Communities - North Hatley Collaboration
Massawippi Retirement Communities subsequently entered then into a collaborative initiative with the Municipality of the Village of North Hatley that included the mutual shared-cost engagement of a third party architectural firm (Service d'aide-conseil en rénovation patrimoniale).
The purpose of this initiative was to ensure that the design of the new Connaught Apartments would maintain as much as possible the heritage of the historical Connaught building as well as North Hatley's Main St., while improving the appearance of the rest of the aging structure.
Final architectural plans in compliance with the results of the collaboration and architect's recommendations cost Massawippi Retirement Communities in excess of $120,000, and were approved by the Municipality of the Village of North Hatley per the timeline highlights below.
See the images below taken from the approved plans.
Highlights Of The Redevelopment Timeline
Highlights Of The Redevelopment Timeline
October 5, 2017: the Village of North Hatley adopted two separate resolutions approving the site plan and the architect's renditions above for the Connaught redevelopment.
March 12, 2018: the building permit was issued, including approval for partial demolition of the building for redevelopment in full compliance with the new building code, current safety standards and the approved architectural designs. Some initial internal demolition preparation work was undertaken but major work was delayed because incoming donations were not high enough to cover both the amount owing on the new Grace Village Care Pavilion in Huntingville and the Connaught renovation.
October 15, 2018: Massawippi Retirement Communities requested a 6 month extension to the building permit, with the intent to secure funding and a potential partner to proceed with the redevelopment. Later in the autumn the Massawippi Retirement Communities Board of Directors made the decision to entertain offers to purchase Connaught outright by two interested parties. It was understood by both interested parties that the complete redevelopment plan as approved by the Village of North Hatley had to be respected, and preference would be given to a buyer who would maintain Connaught as seniors' apartments.
January 17, 2019: the provincial Ministry of Culture & Communications of Québec (MCCQ) asked the Village of North Hatley to reconsider the original October 5, 2017 decision to grant a building permit, following a citizen's complaint to the Ministry related to preservation of heritage buildings in North Hatley.
January 31, 2019: the Village of North Hatley suspended the building permit that it had previously approved. Redevelopment plans for Connaught were halted. Representatives of the Village of North Hatley invited Massawippi Retirement Communities to reapply and undertake the approval process for a second time. Massawippi Retirement Communities reapplied for a new permit, using exactly the same criteria and plans as previously approved.
March 2019: The North Hatley CCUP (Comité consultatif d'urbanisme et du patrimoine) reviewed the permit application for the purpose of making a recommendation to the Village of North Hatley.
April 1, 2019: The Village of North Hatley town council announced that the CCUP recommended against the project proceeding as submitted. The Village council decided to proceed with public consultations on April 16 and May 1.
April 16: Information session was held in which the Village of North Hatley presented an overview of the situation and the results of their inspection of the state of the building.
May 1: A well-attended public consultation was held in which both proponents and opponents of the project presented their views. The majority of attendees appeared to support the project.
June 3: At a regular Village of North Hatley Council meeting, the Council voted in favour of granting the building permits to Massawippi Retirement Communities so the redevelopment project could move forward, pending successful completion of two conditions.
June 7: Massawippi Retirement Communities accepted an offer to purchase Connaught by a local group that will re-develop Connaught for seniors autonomous living apartments per the original approved re-development plan.
September 24, 2019: The North Hatley Council approved the successful completion of the final condition required for issuance of the purchaser's building permit, enabling re-development work to start in the fourth quarter 2019 as planned.
The Connaught Situation Today
With the Village of North Hatley Council's June 3 decision to approve the building permit and the Connaught redeveloppment, the original plan to support North Hatley's heritage of providing secure state-of-the-art living accommodations for seniors can move forward. Massawippi Retirement Communities is now working with the Village of North Hatley to finalize the building permit.
In late 2018 and early 2019 Massawippi Retirement Communities received several expressions of interest from parties looking to acquire the Connaught property. One buyer group presented a formal offer and was introduced at the April 16 public consultation, publicly confirming that if they were to purchase the property their plan is to proceed with the development of seniors' apartments per Massawippi Retirement Communities' original plan using exactly the same architecture and building plan as was originally approved by the Village of North Hatley Council.
The offer by this group to purchase the Connaught property and develop it as seniors-friendly autonomous living apartments was accepted by Nassawippi Retirement Communities, with re-development scheduled to begin in the fourth quarter 2019. The purchasers have stated their intention of honouring Connaught's history and its North Hatley heritage in the forefront of their re-development planning.
If you would like more information about the status of the Connaught building, the redevelopment plans or the challenges being faced, please don't hesitate to contact us.
All queries will be responded to by Doug Bowker, Executive Director of Massawippi Retirement Communities.
The Connaught Redevelopment Petition
By completing and submitting this form you show your support for the Massawippi Retirement Communities plan to develop a secure attractive seniors' housing community in North Hatley.
If you include your email address we can update you on developments as they occur.
I support the issuance of all necessary permits required for the Connaught redevelopment project as described above.