Osborne Village housing project would provide supported units for adults with mental health challenges

A proposed apartment building in the Osborne Village area could add an affordable option in a highly desirable location for people in Winnipeg with mental health challenges.

The plans call for a 51-unit complex built at the corner of Wellington Crescent and River Avenue, with 20 of those units dedicated to supported housing for older adults through a partnership with Cambridge Health Inc.

“I like the ability to offer housing to many different demographics,” said Geoff Milnes, president of Progressive Real Estate (PRE) Developments, which is spearheading the project.

The developer and Cambridge — a Winnipeg company that offers specialized behavioural health services for adults — have worked together on other projects, and the apartments at River and Wellington are planned largely to meet their needs, Milnes said.

An architectural rendering shows a four-storey building with balconies
The project would include a fitness facility, multi-purpose room and commercial kitchen . (Submitted by Geoff Milnes)

A letter from Cambridge submitted to the City of Winnipeg says the company provide services for adults from age 50 to 65 who exhibit “complex behaviours, such as people who have complex mental health conditions.”

Residents are on employment income assistance and considered low-income, the letter says.

All of the units in the complex would be one-bedroom apartments. It would consist of two buildings — a smaller 10-unit building at 586 River Ave., and a larger 41-unit building on lots currently listed as 588 River Ave. and 90 Wellington Cres.

The smaller building would be entirely devoted to residents in Cambridge’s care, and would include a multi-purpose room, fitness facility, and a commercial kitchen.

The two buildings would be connected by an enclosed overhead walkway. 

“There’s a time and a place for luxury apartments, luxury condos,” said Milnes. 

“But I feel that in Osborne Village, this is a great opportunity to provide housing to a number of different demographics.”

The plans would call for the demolition of two buildings currently at the site, both of which are vacant right now.

Milnes emphasized that although the buildings are old — built between 1929 and 1936, according to the Manitoba Historical Society — they are not currently designated as heritage properties.

“Right now, they are structures that are structurally unsafe,” Milnes said. “They are vacant and they’ve been vacant for quite some time.”

In June, one of the buildings was struck by a Winnipeg Transit bus, “which didn’t help the structure at all,” Milnes said.

An overhead photo shows a bus crashed into the side of a red brick building.
In June 2022, a Winnipeg Transit bus crashed into one of the River Avenue buildings that would be torn down to make way for the new development. (Submitted by Karen Asher)

CBC has reached out to Heritage Winnipeg for comment on the plan to tear down the buildings.

Sherri Rollins, the city councillor for the area, declined to comment on the proposal since it has yet to come before council for approval.

A city report recommends approval of the project.

The report notes that the two buildings on River Avenue could be considered heritage “contributing properties.” The developer hired an engineer to inspect the buildings, which concluded the buildings pose “a safety and health concern” and are “beyond a repair limit and should be demolished as soon as possible.”

A hearing on the proposal was set to be heard by a City of Winnipeg community committee on Thursday, but was postponed until April 25.

If approved by council, Milnes expects to have the project completed by 2025.

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