The Solution – Planning: Churchill Park

Housing styles in Churchill ParkThese photos are from Churchill Park -A Garden Suburb in St. John’s , a web page by Dr. C.A. Sharpe and Dr. J. Shawyer.

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The problems of sub-standard housing, slum clearance and affordable housing were not unique to pre-confederation St. John’s. In the early twentieth century, Canadian municipal reformers were also concerned about the same problems. Urban planning, it was thought, would provide the solutions. According to the Commission of Enquiry on Housing in St. John’s, “In a large number of cases these people are living in condemned or condemnable houses, not because they cannot pay for or do not want something better, but because nothing better can be had.”

By the 1940s planners believed that the best solution to the problem of slum housing was to build new housing on the edge of the city where land would be cheaper. A Commission of Enquiry proposed the development of a new garden suburb north of the city. The St. John’s Housing Corporation came into existence to put the recommendation into effect. A schedule for compensation was worked out in advance to prevent land speculation and eight hundred acres in the northern valley, known locally as “the woods” or “the country” were expropriated.

The new housing was very different from the traditional row housing of St. John’s, which was built in quadrangles on a city block and lacked a front yard. In Churchill Park single or semi-detached houses were built on large lots with large front and back yards. There were three styles of house: a one storey bungalow, a one and a half storey bungalow and a two storey house. The houses had modern kitchens, bathrooms, basements, and central heating.

Between 1945 and 1950, 233 houses and 92 apartments were built and 250 serviced building lots were sold by the St. John’s Housing Corporation for a total cost of $6,538,938. The Newfoundland Government provided $5,338,938, and the St. John’s Municipal Council $1,200,000.

The post war cost of materials and labour drove up the costs of the houses tremendously, and only one of three planned villages were built. Instead of the anticipated $2,500 – $3,500 price range, the least expensive house was $9,700, the most expensive was $13,000 and the average price was $11,500. In contrast, a “very good house” in the city cost about $7,000.

After Confederation, the Corporation built very little housing and turned its attention to land assembly and the provision of serviced building lots.

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One Response to The Solution – Planning: Churchill Park

  1. Ryan H says:

    I dont know alot about it but im pritty sure alot of that area was built by the united states government When the american soldiers were stationed here… My grandfather is one of them he came from the north eastern united states and actually had a hand in building a few houses in the east end of st. John’s.

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