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Sustainable community plan at Ignatius Jesuit Centre gains definition and traction

100-year lease agreement part of the plans
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Newly formed Angel Oaks Communities and Ignatius Jesuit Centre have formalized a letter of intent. Rob O'Flanagan/GuelphToday.

The plans were tentative, but appear more formal now. More details are being shared.

A proposal to create a sustainable, integrated and all-inclusive residential community at Orchard Park (the former Jesuit college) at the Ignatius Jesuit Centre, has been etched in a formal letter of intent.  

Angel Oak Communities, a private, not-for-profit organization, has signed the letter with the Ignatius Jesuit Centre to turn the existing building into a commercial and residential community. The plans call for 70 luxury apartments, and 30 commercial tenants.

The developer of the project, Mark Enchin, said in a press release Friday that Angel Oaks plans to enter into a 100-year lease with the centre to create what he describes as a “sustainable co-operative” that is “an affordable alternative to conventional subsidized housing models.”

Residents will have the choice to purchase or rent their apartment, and will have a say in daily operations. The developer is dedicated to building an alternative community for adults with intellectual and physical disabilities, but the residences will be open to a broad diversity of people.   

"A supportive, independent living co-operative model isn't really a new idea, it's how neighbourhoods used to be," Enchin said in a statement. "Our vision for the project is to create a fully integrated, all-inclusive community that welcomes seniors, working people, millennials, adults with intellectual and physical disabilities, and students - anyone who is interested in living in a supported, caring and sustainable neighbourhood."

The Angel Oaks model includes life leases and affordable rental units, in a building that will incorporate green technology to achieve energy efficiency and resource sustainability, he added.

Among the amenities being considered are a  bakery and café, guest suites and respite care, a swimming pool, and a greenhouse, as well as a learning centre and day programs for all of Wellington County.

The unique project is the first for Angel Oak Communities. Enchin said he has a personal reason for starting it.

"My stepdaughter has autism and her mother and I are constantly worried about where she'll live and thrive after we are gone,” he saied. “We wanted to create a future for her, not just housing."

Lisa Calzonetti, director of operations at Ignatius, said the centre has been building community for over 100 years, and looks forward to collaborating on the project.

For information on the project contact Mark Enchin at Angel Oak Communities Inc., at, or call 888-519-3339.

Before the concept behind Angel Oaks was fully articulated, the project received some criticism on social media, and from Community Living Ontario. Some interpreted the plan as a form of institutional living, given that it was to be established in the former Saint Stanislaus Novitiate, an institution for Jesuit training. 

In a statement just over a week ago, Community Living Ontario denounced the proposal, saying it "attempts to re-institutionalize Ontarians who have an intellectual disability." 

Enchin has defended the project, saying the model is far from an institutional setting, but rather a sustainable, cooperative, and all-inclusive community.