A Master Plan For Emmanuel United Church
Emmanuel Emerging! is master plan intended to guide capital projects over the next 3-5 years. The
plan defines a 20 year vision for Emmanuel United Church’s property and buildings.
Started in May 2017, the process for developing the master plan included regular meetings, ongoing
reading, research and reaching out to the congregation, key program partners and tenants.
This master plan is to be used as a guideline in making repairs, renovating and upgrading Emmanuel’s
property and buildings. The plan includes 23 proposed projects that contribute to and are aligned with
the long term vision.
In 2004, faced with the many challenges of a small faith community in the secular world, Emmanuel
explored different ways forward and boldly chose to “Stay and Grow”. With an outreach focus, the
congregation at Emmanuel started to develop community-based programs. These included the Women
Of Worth program, providing life skills to new Canadian women and the Bridgeport Cafe, an afternoon
drop-in for the marginalized. In 2014, Waterloo Wayside was formed to provide a secular community
brand for the outreach programs that were expanded to also support seniors and youth. In 2017, an
adjacent church-owned duplex was opened as Vera’s Place, Waterloo Region’s first post-treatment dryhouse for women.
The current inclusive community-centered use of Emmanuel’s buildings today are in stark contrast to
the fortress-themed architecture of the original 1906 church building. Now Vera’s Place, rentals,
community-driven government and foundation grants and Waterloo Wayside account for almost 35% of
Emmanuel’s operating revenue.
In early 2017, lay leadership at Emmanuel started down the path to revitalize the building to support a
new vision for a different type of church. An inventory of the aging building infrastructure revealed
$300,000 of urgently needed repairs. At the direction of the Official Board, a lay group was formed to
work with Carole Boucher, a local architect, in order to produce a $500,000 master plan that would
define a generational vision for the building.
Where is God Leading Emmanuel?
Like the world around us, the Emmanuel faith community is becoming a 7-days a week church,
integrating faith into daily living. With a mission focus on growing and nurturing community among
youth, seniors and the marginalized, the composition of the congregation is becoming more diverse.
The inclusivity and integrity that comes from faith in action is now drawing in a younger demographic;
questioning and committed. The lines are blurring; between church and community; between religion
and faith; Emmanuel is very much engaged on that softening edge. At the same time Emmanuel finds
itself in the growing and gathering center of faith traditions.
By “playing in traffic”, fearlessly joining God working in the world, Emmanuel has found that youth and millenials are embracing their calling through social enterprise. Being able to step outside of the
formal structures and practices of traditional church, Emmanuel can support and join these youth to
create a new future together.
In creating an inclusive community space that serves those across diverse socio-economic and cultural
lines, Emmanuel has found and embraced the messiness that God calls us to join.
The vision of the master plan is to create a “third space” for community to form by making it:
• Welcoming, Inviting, Comfortable
• Respectful of Creation
• Safe and Inclusive
• Easy For Regulars to Attract Newcomers
• A Home Away From Home
• A Place For Conversation and Connection
The following three conceptualizations are examples of how the Emmanuel building can be updated to
support the master plan and the vision of a “third space”. These conceptualizations are not designs and
are intended to start a process of thinking and discussing of updating Emmanuel spaces to support and
Bridgeport Road Entrance
Gathering Place. Pedestrian & bicycle entrance from multi-use trail
• The Big Welcome
• Welcome for the stranger at the edge
• Drawing folks in like a funnel/attractor creating a porous edge
• Piazza space on the trail
• Alameda, shaded public space that encourages interaction; shared space, a path for our common
• Waiting comfortably for a ride
• Continuing a conversation outside
• Meeting friends before going in
• Sitting on the steps watching people pass by
• Integrated accessibility ramp
• Integrated electronic sign
• Seeing announcements as bike, walk or drive by.
• Rocks to sit on
• Mural showing what is church now on left as people go up ramp
• Seating against building
• Railings / planter boxes
• Water bottle filling station / phone charging station
• Air pump with option for a coin box to offset capital/operating costs of pump
Hallway From Bridgeport Road
Main Floor Entry
• Conducting welcome from Bridgeport
• Opportunities to build connection & embrace
• Developing connection
• Creating opportunities for interaction
• Interconnection, porousness & engagement
• Safe space, cozy, casual, welcoming
• symbiotic inter-dependencies
• Connecting to street, to community
• Entry/hallway as lounge/hub, place to be
• Hallways as opportunities for personal interaction, melding of the many uses of centre
• Vibrant murals flow inside, creating dynamic spine to the public space for N-S lobby, hallway
• Providing space to support new ways of working and thinking
• Infrastructure support for hoteling, dynamic use of space that supports youth and social
enterprise, essentially setting up flexible office space that can be used by folks in a myriad of
• Social innovation centre
• Vibrant consolidated notice board * community connector with space for pamphlets,
newsletters, bulletins, newspapers
Bridgeport Café Soup Bar
Cafe Outdoor Servery
• Community link
• Casual link to community & multi-use trail drawing folks in
• Bright, active edge to the community hub / complex
• Positive introduction to the work of EUC without having to enter building
• Inclusive, meeting folks where they’re at
• Flexible outdoor eating / play area
• Additional construction could be temporary to see how it goes
Neighbourhood hub, gateway, whole growth complex, crossroads, meeting place
• Focal point of neighbourhood
• Active edges invite participation within
• Community gardens along Albert both sides of Albert St. Entrance
The master plan includes 23 projects that have been defined and prioritized based on the criteria of
welcoming, respect for creation, safety, inclusivity and value. This list provides complete coverage of
the urgent repairs identified by the Property Committee in January 2017.
The roof and brick restoration projects are underway and funding has been partially secured through a
New Horizons for Seniors grant and a City of Waterloo heritage grant. A funding application to the
Neighbourhood Matching Fund has been submitted to partially cover the costs of the parking lot
An ad hoc committee should be struck to oversee the management and execution of this master plan for
3-5 years. This committee should be comprised of members that possess expertise or experience in
project management, the building trades, grant writing and fund-raising. The scope of the proposed
projects and any additional projects should be continually reevaluated and framed based on alignment
with the master plan, the funding opportunities and the current or potential Emmanuel partners. Each
individual project should be run with Emmanuel’s regular oversight process and using teams that are
most appropriate for the specific project.
Master Plan Projects
The following projects have been developed and scoped based on a multi-generational vision for Emmanuel and the list of necessary capital repairs developed at the outset of this process. The projects described in this master plan are not completed designs.
The projects were evaluated and scored based on the following 5 criteria:
• Welcoming – provides an inviting feature/feel to newcomers and regulars alike
• Respect For Creation* – provides features that minimize negative or provide a net positive impact on the land, air,
water and all living things
• Safe Space – provides features that fosters open, supportive, dynamic, authentic activity (includes traditional physical
• Inclusive – provides features that support universal access and openly support diversity
• Value – provides Overall Long-term Cost-Benefit (using both capital and operating costs) and benefit to the
* Many cities, corporations and faith communities are making a commitment to become carbon neutral by 2035. While the scope of the master plan is only 5 years, every capital repair and improvement project in the plan should support and be aligned with the goal of carbon neutrality by 2035. This may include but is not limited to solar panels, an online ride sharing system, electric vehicle charging stations, geothermal heating and energy control and monitoring systems.
Except for projects that are already underway or partially funded, the projects have been laid out in order of their criteria score from highest to lowest. This order in a multi-year master plan time frame will minimize any required rework resulting from a particular upgrade.