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The Story of Hyfield Place

One of the real treasures of Manotick is Hyfield Place, home of more than 30 seniors. This colourful building on Doctor Leach Drive and visible from Eastman and the Manotick Mews provides an insight into the success of the determination, dedication and hard work of a number of residents of the former Township of Rideau. It would be difficult to name those most prominent in these efforts particularly with concern of failing to cite everyone. Therefore, few individuals will be identified, but are non-the-less local heros. In a series of short articles, the story of Hyfield Place and current concerns is outlined.
 
In the late 1970’s, there was a realization that the delivery of services to seniors in the Township of Rideau could be significantly improved with better coordination.  A Seniors’ Residence Committee was set up in March 1978. In 1980, Mayor David Bartlett and the Rideau Township Council enacted a by-law establishing the Township of Rideau Non-Profit Housing Foundation Incorporated (hereafter referred to as the Foundation).  The Board of Directors was to be comprised of persons approved by the Council and one of community organizations including: the Goodfellowship Club, The Happy Gang, the Kiwanis Club of Manotick, the Kinsman Club, the North Gower Lions Club and South Carleton Branch No. 314 of the Royal Canadian Legion. Letters patent were received by the Board on March 24, 1980. The principal mandate was to provide affordable seniors housing which would allow them to stay in the community, enhance their dignity, support independence and encourage continued support of the community. The Foundation also guided the operation of the Seniors’ Service Centre, previously run by the Manotick Legion. This is now the function of the Rural Ottawa South Support Services (ROSSS).

The Township developed a mail-out to senior residents of Rideau seeking applicants for the proposed residence. Some 72 applicants were received, although a number qualified the application in that they would have to sell their house, they would like to wait a couple of years or they would want to see the structure built first. On the basis of this survey, the Foundation agreed at a June 4, 1980 meeting to proceed with a plan to build a facility with 30 units and an option to add 10 more units in the future.
Planning began immediately with consideration of an appropriate site. As there already was a provincially-funded seniors’ residence in North Gower, the new facility was to be located in Manotick. Mahogany Harbour was an early choice, but analysis identified three more suitable sites: the Arena, Goddard’s field and the apple orchard (across the road from the present Fire Hall). The preferred site was the Goddard field which was owned by Harzena Holdings. Mr. Harry Leikin of Harzena was approached about the possibility of using the Goddard Farm. Soil tests were completed and the site was deemed to be most suitable. The siting was decidedly confirmed when Mr. Leikin agreed to sell the five acres, on which Hyfield Place now stands, to the Township of Rideau for $1.00 with expressed purpose of it being used for seniors’ housing.  The name Hyfield Place is derived from the Goddard field being “high” ground.


 
 
Planning for Hyfield Place (Perhaps include site plan)

Once the site for Hyfield Place was determined, the hard work of getting funding, approvals, design and construction began in earnest. The key component was in securing support from the appropriate Provincial and Federal agencies responsible for seniors’ housing. The Township of Rideau Non-Profit Housing Foundation Incorporated (the Foundation) would be the company responsible for the project. The Township transferred ownership of the Leikin land to the Foundation providing an initial asset for the project.

An immediate need was to hire a project manager. Mr. Dennis Moizer was engaged as Administrative Assistant and Coordinator of the housing initiative. A first step was to select and engage an architect in the detailed planning. The firm of Schoeler and Heaton was contracted by the Foundation to provide full architectural services Schoeler and Heaton developed conceptual drawings for a building of 21,000 square feet with 30 units including 4 two bedroom and two handicapped accessible units. These drawings along with the information on the agreed site and land ownership were provided to the Community Services Contribution Program of the Ontario Ministry of Housing and Social Services. The Ministry also required that there must be demonstration of available well water at the expected demand. This documentation was necessary in seeking funding under the Provincial Non-Profit Housing program.

The Ministry studied the information provided and recommended several minor changes, including the building orientation to provide better access to the local roads. Schoeler and Heaton would be responsible for full architectural services including design, tendering and construction coordination and certification of the building, rather than leaving supervision to the Building Committee, chaired by William Aughey.  The fixed upper limit cost of construction was to be $815,000 with architectural fees of 4.5%. Later modifications brought the estimated cost up to $963,000. The Ministry of Housing and Social Services approved the project on the basis of the information provided. Funding would be provided based on progress. The Provincial contribution would be 10% of the project costs.
The Foundation secured a $50,000 line of credit to cover development expenses. The land survey was completed by Shipman Surveying Limited. Payments were made for well drilling, soil tests, engineering and legal fees.  The firm of Bell, Baker donated some legal services fees to the project. Application was made for start-up funding of $4,000 from the Ministry of Housing. Local banks were approached to negotiate a mortgage. The Kinross group (CIBC) was selected to provide interim financing and a mortgage. The established rate was 18 ¼ %. While this would appear to have been an untenable burden to the Hyfield, Central Mortgage and Housing Corporation was responsible to deliver a program for assistance to seniors’ housing under which mortgage interest in excess of 2% would be subsidized by the Federal Government.

On July 22, 1981 the Regional Architect for the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing concluded that the construction of this facility in Manotick adhered to the spirit and intent of the Municipal Non-Profit Housing Program with very little risk with an estimated cost of $1,079,000. This established final Ministerial (Provincial) approval on September 1, 1981 funding enabling detailed construction planning to begin.




Construction of Hyfield Place

Archetictural drawings were prepared by Schoeler and Heaton for a two storey wood frame building containing 30 living units built on a concrete slab. Building specifications were developed by Structural Engineers Roy Allen & Associates; Smith & Andersen, Mechanical Engineers; and Wood, Banani & Associates Electrical engineers. Golder & Associates provided the preliminary subsurface investigation. Tenders were for construction contracts were issued with a closing date of October 21, 1981. The specifications for the building comprised some 400 pages.

A number of contractors were considered. The lowest bidder, J. Perez Construction Limited was selected.  A 22-week construction phase began on November 16, 1981 with the completion target date of mid-May 1982. The official sod turning was celebrated with a number of dignitaries present (photo to be provided).

On December 29, 1981, a Tri-Partite Agreement was signed between the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing, the Central Mortgage andhOUSING H Housing Corporation and the Township of Rideau Non-Profit Housing Foundation Incorporated (the designated owner). The owner was to provide not more than 15 nor less than 5 “rent-geared-to-income” (RGI) units with the balance to be at “market rent” as determined by the Ministry. A maximum Federal assistance toward capital expenditures was established. Operating losses would be covered by the Province of Ontario. A replacement reserve was to be included in the operating costs.
Interim financing during construction of $1,046,310 was provided by Kinross Mortgage Company at a rate of 18 ¼% per annum. A Provincial Capital Cost Grant of 10% would be applied to the mortgage once received.  In the final accounting, the project received a capital grant of $106,937 under the Community Services Contribution Program of the Ontario Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing.  Central Mortgage and Housing Corporation, as a Federal Government Agency, provided mortgage relief for non-profit seniors housing for interest payments exceeding 2% per annum.

Construction proceeded without significant incident. A Foundation Board meeting on February 10, 1982 reported that the project was proceeding smoothly. Some delay in meeting the May 1, 1982 completion date might arise due to the need for more fire resistant materials and duct work. One unique aspect during construction was the inclusion of a portable electric fence to keep from wandering onto the site from adjacent fields. On May 5, 1982 it was reported that final details were near completion and tenants would be able to view the apartments on May 8, 1982. The inspection by the Architects and the Ministry was scheduled for May 17, 1982.

On June 2, 1982, the road was being asphalted. Twelve units were already occupied and the tenants were delighted with their new residence. All 30 units were expected to be occupied by July 1, 1982. On July 5, 1982, the Foundation minutes recorded that the Ministry inspection had been completed and the there were 18 “market rent” residents and 12 RGI tenants.



 
Operation of Hyfield Place
(Note: find copy of management plan)

Changes:

In the 1990s, the responsibility for public housing was transferred from the Province of Ontario to the Regional Municipality of Ottawa Carleton. Then with the formation of the amalgamated City of Ottawa in 2000, the responsibilities of the Township of Rideau were assumed by the new City of Ottawa administration. Hyfield was given the option of being absorbed completely into the City Housing administration or establishing an independent entity. It was decided to form Rideau Non-Profit Housing Incorporated as an independent non-profit corporation to own and operate Hyfield. In spite of the independence, Hyfield would be eligible for operating subsidies under the Housing authority. An agreement was signed with the City in 2002 to run until 2017.

Over the years a number of improvements have been made. A greenhouse was attached to the common room to provide an area for growing house plants. One common room was adapted to provide space for a hair-dresser. The Kiwanis Club of Manotick refurnished the common room with high quality tables and chairs; the room was thereafter called the Kiwanis Room. This is the venue for a monthly bingo for residents sponsored by Kiwanis. This room is in regular use for exercise classes, a quilting get-together, card games and meetings. This room is equipped with two computers and a large screen TV for the use of residents.  A weekly OC Transpo shopping bus picks up residents at the main entrance. Park benches were installed along the pathway to the Mews. Security cameras were installed to monitor the entrance. A no-smoking clause was added to leases. An elevator was installed to better serve second floor residents.

The quality of well water was an ongoing concern until a new well was drilled in mid-1990. The final resolution of water problems was achieved with the connection of Hyfield to the Ottawa-Carleton Regional Municipality system. Tile bed problems persisted, but back-up was developed through an agreement with Leimark Farms to install a new tile bed to serve part of the Mews Shopping area. Septic system problems were finally overcome with the connection of Manotick to the City of Ottawa sewer system in 2011.
Hot water had been furnished to all units by a central electrically-heated system. The system was ageing and electricity costs were rising. A new system was installed in 2007 using a gas-fired, on-demand hot water supply facility. This has led to more reliable supply at a considerably lower cost.

Hyfield apartments are fitted with electric baseboard heating. There was no provision in the design for air conditioning. Many residents requested window mounted air conditioners. It was agreed that residents would purchase their own units and hydro costs would be absorbed by Hyfield. Common areas also require heating. A central electrically-heated system provided air make-up and ventilation for common areas. With the steady increase in hydro rates in recent years, it was decided to investigate a more economical system. In 2011, a natural gas fired system was installed and enabled the addition of air conditioning of all common areas (hallways, corridors, the office and the several other common areas). The cost was nearly $80,000, but annual savings have amounted to $9,000 per year.

Maintenance of the capital plant is an ongoing expense. Landscaping and snow removal are performed under contract. Janitorial services for common areas are contracted out. Pest control is a regular requirement. With a 30 year old building, there are requirements for replacement of some parts of the facility. In recent years, the balconies have been rebuilt, most of the windows have been replaced, carpeting has been renewed and wind damage required one wall of aluminum siding to be replaced. Much of the capital improvement has been subsidized by the City of Ottawa.

In a 2011 assessment of the social housing stock by the City of Ottawa, Hyfield was deemed to be among the best maintained facilities in the City.

Vince Daly retired as Manager at the end of 2001. Frank Sisson was selected from among 14 applicants. He continues to provide that service. Operations are overseen by a nine member Board. Bryan Dorling is the Chairman of the Board. The Board has four scheduled meetings each year and an occasional special meeting.




Expansion

From the very beginning there were plans to expand the Hyfield Place facility. In September 1982, there was discussion of adding 7 single and 2 double units. It was indicated that there would be no new Provincial funding until after 1985. This message was repeated with no support in 1987 and frequently thereafter. At a Municipal Housing Conference in 1984, it was suggested that there might be a market for non-profit condominiums for seniors of modest means. The waiting list for accommodation at Hyfield reached nearly 70 the mid-1980s and has changed little over the years. Wait times for apartments are typically 3 to 5 years.

A private initiative in the late 1980s had the potential of meeting some community needs. A Senior Citizen Cooperative Housing Project was proposed. Share certificates of $5000 bearing 2% interest  would be sold. Rent would be reduced by $100 per month for each $10,000 invested.. Forty units were proposed. This project did not materialize.

Interest in expanding Hyfield continued over the years. Central Mortgage and Housing offered seed money to increase affordable housing for seniors. In 2005, the School of Architecture at Carleton University developed 16 conceptual drawings of a new wing for Hyfield. One particularly attractive one was identified as a model for future expansion. A Friends of Hyfield group was formed to seek financial support from the community. Charitable status for Hyfield was sought from the Canada Revenue Agency. Despite repeated attempts, such status has not been granted. Fund raising has thereby been restricted.

In 2005, formal development plans were developed using consultants. Architects were invited to submit resumes. From among these the firm of Barry Hobin and Associates was selected. However, without the potential of available funding, further progress was put on hold. One new possibility was introduced in discussions with ROSSS (Rural Ottawa South support Services). Their existing rental accommodation was inadequate to meet their demands. They would like to find about 3500 Square feet of affordable office space to serve the community. Incorporation of ROSSS into the Hyfield complex would consolidate services for seniors.

In 2009, discussions with the City were renewed. The prospect of new funding seemed to be arising. A Building Committee of the Board was formed to pursue a Hyfield addition. Seed funding of $50,000 was available from the City Housing Authority. Development consultants Jackson-Brown Associates were engaged and discussions were begun with Hobin and Associates (Architects). There was a possibility of tapping into the new Federal government “stimulus funds”.  A $6 million project was envisioned with 30 apartments.  Unfortunately, such funding had already been fully committed to “shovel ready” projects. Hyfield planning had not developed to that extent.

Nevertheless, planning proceeded with the view of receiving capital support from Provincial funding via the City Housing Branch. The City was fully cooperative and identified a senior housing advisor to the project. The property was surveyed. The best site for the new building was determined to be at right angles to the existing building and separated by about 5 metres. One unique feature of the siting was that by keeping the same elevation as the existing building, a lower level could be incorporated in the design. This lower level would have direct access from the North end of the building. This lower level would be an ideal location for ROSSS and could accommodate more apartments.

Conceptual drawings were prepared by the architects for 37 living apartments (20 one-bedroom and 17 two-bedroom units), rental space for ROSSS and attendant room for an office, mechanical and electrical requirements, storage, etc.: a total floor area of 41,500 square feet. An appraisal of the Hyfield assets was conducted by Juteau Johnson Comba Inc. A feasibility report was prepared in cooperation with the development consultant. A review by a bank indicated that mortgage funds could be provided. In April 2012, this information base was used in a Rideau Non-Profit Housing Incorporated “Application to Action Ottawa for Capital Subsidy for Seniors’ Housing” to the City of Ottawa. This application sought a capital subsidy of $120,000 per apartment toward a total project cost of $8.5 million.
 
After due consideration, the City Housing Branch reported that while the project had merit, funding for supportive housing was extremely limited. Housing priorities were for families and the homeless. Rideau Non-Profit Housing was encouraged to continue to maintain contact with the City as future funding priorities change. To date, these priorities remain unchanged and are not seen to change in the foreseeable future.

Rideau Non-Profit Housing Corporation remains committed to expand the availability of affordable seniors’ apartments on this 4 hectare Manotick site. A variety of options are being discussed. There remains a demand by over 50 applicants for such accommodation.
 
A limiting factor is that Rideau Non-Profit Housing Corporation has been ruled as ineligible as a charitable organization and thereby restricting the ability to attract donations from the community.


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