Cathedral Hill Development

Cathedral Hill Development


The Cathedral Hill Foundation is a joint venture, property development initiative shared by Christ Church Cathedral and the Diocese of Ottawa. The primary objective of property development is to intensify Cathedral land use and thereby generate a significant and long-term financial return that will cover the cost of maintaining Cathedral facilities. This, in turn, allows the Cathedral to redirect a much higher percentage of its annual income to non-property needs within the parish and the wider community. Likewise, the Diocese is able to generate income for more cost-effective Synod Office facilities, either within Roper House or in another location. 

Background on the Cathedral Hill Foundation

In 2010 the Cathedral and Diocese mandated the CHF to hold title to certain Cathedral and Diocesan lands in the municipal block bounded by Bay, Bronson, Queen and Sparks Streets that had been designated for development. The Foundation is to receive and distribute the rent received from two separate land development leases covering property to the East and West of the Cathedral, respectively.

CHF received its Letters Patent in April 2010 and was certified by CRA as a registered, not-for-profit charity in October 2010. Its fiscal year end is 31 December. The aforementioned Cathedral and Diocesan land titles were transferred to CHF in July 2012. As designated heritage properties, the Cathedral itself and Lauder Hall were excluded from these transfers and the subsequent site development plan approvals; they remain the property of the Cathedral Corporation.

Achievements: As the year opened, CHF was working through Windmill (developers of Phase 1, Condo Tower) to secure a development lease respecting Phase 2. Negotiations on our behalf had been on-going since June 2016 but were not nearing a successful conclusion. It was decided between the potential tenant and the CHF Board that direct negotiations would be the best strategy. Working within its mandate for development of the Eastern property, negotiations were stepped up and by August 31, 2017 a commercial lease agreement was signed, and due diligence period entered. At the time of writing this report, due diligence is still underway. At the request of the tenant, public disclosure of the details of the lease or use of the site has not been made. However, the CHF Board can say it is within the scope of the development project for which it is mandated and subject to successful completion of due diligence will provide a solid long-term revenue stream for the Diocese and CCC. Due diligence is expected to wrap in early 2018. A request has been made to the tenant to openly disclose of the use of the site at 2018 CCC Vestry and Spring Diocesan Council. The Annual General Meeting of CHF was held at the end of June 2017. It was decided during this meeting to create three sub-working groups of the board to accomplish several things: a) Provide CHF Directors with additional hands on experience in select areas thereby relieving principal officers (Chair, Vice-Chair, and Treasurer) of some of the day-to-day workload b) Provide more continuity of understanding of files, process, workings of the Foundation c) Build strong relationships with the tenants of CHF development Therefore, the following working groups were formed: Condo Board Relations Group: David Morgan, David Selzer and Elizabeth Taylor. Josephine Hall (Administrator CCC) ex-officio member Phase 2 Relations Group: Barbara Gagné, Don Lindsay, Ruby Durfy Finance Group: Sanjay Grover, David Morgan, Brad Martens. Josephine Hall (Administrator CCC) ex-officio member

The legacy activity regarding our relationship with Windmill dealt with project management of the Forecourt landscaping. As reported in last year’s report, CHF and Windmill agreed that CHF would take over the leadership of this project and see it through completion. The payment of expenses is to be made from the withholdings held back by CHF for Phase 1. CHF contracted with CSW, landscape designers, and Exel Contracting Inc. immediately after Easter as per the tender recommended by Windmill late in 2016. Complexities in the project included necessary coordination of three inter-related activities with the project: the installation of accent lighting for the tower and west wall; the lowering of the curb on Sparks St for proper accessibility; and, the installation of a new, illuminated sign. In general, work was completed during the year, but lighting standards have delayed a full completion of the project. CHF now anticipates that the lighting, for which conduits have already been laid, will be installed in February/March 2018. Once the project is deemed fully complete, a final accounting of the monies unspent from the withholdings less any monies used to deal with on-going deficiencies in the construction of the Great Hall or other Phase 1 development for the CHF will be made. Only at that time will any funds be returned to Windmill, if they remain, and dealings with Windmill will cease.

The outstanding issue of tax assessment on CHF properties was partial resolved and to the good. In March 2017 a judgement was made between CHF, MPAC and the City of Ottawa that recognized the tax-exempt status of the CHF properties, excluding those developed for the Condo Tower, for tax years 2015 and 2016. This left unresolved the tax assessments for July 2012-December 31, 2014. CHF is still working to bring closure to this as it is unreasonable to think up to 2012 and post 2014 the properties are tax exempt but not the intervening period. Financial statements prepared by the external auditors reflect the appropriate notation of this on-going situation.

An on-going dialogue has been established between the CHF and the CH Tower Board (Condo Board). Regular meetings now focus on collaborative problem solving of issues affecting common areas and services.

Finances: The financial statements were prepared and presented as required. The board is approaching the Diocesan Audit Committee to act as the CHF’s audit committee. This decision is to provide greater oversight and expertise to the development and review of CHF’s financials, as a proactive measure to improve the stewardship of the foundation. CHF closed the year in a positive position. It was able to make conservative disbursements for 2017 to both Christ Church Cathedral and to the Diocese and until there is a strong rental revenue stream from the Phase 2 development, CHF forecasts the same for 2018 and 2019. Conclusion: The CHF on entering its 8th year since incorporation is proud to see the development of the lands around CCC and Roper House. The block is a beautiful meeting place and the revenue generated to date provides a meaningful contribution to Cathedral and Diocesan ministries. The Board members of CHF are honoured to be stewards of these lands and look forward to the future development of the east properties.

Barbara Gagné, Chair of the Cathedral Hill Foundation