When it was first discovered Wednesday afternoon, it appeared the situation in a south side community was escalating, as a church in the area was spray painted, apparently in protest of an affordable housing complex in the area – but the reverend of the church is hoping to turn it around.

The exterior walls of the Holy Trinity Riverbend Anglican Church, on 156 Street near south Terwillegar Boulevard were spray painted with the words ‘no homeless’ in a number of places on the walls that face where the apartment building is proposed to go.

“I’m pretty sure it was intended to tell us they don’t want people to be given homes in this neighbourhood who have experienced homelessness,” Rev. Nick Trussell told CTV News Thursday

Members of the church congretation first noticed the graffiti Wednesday afternoon, and called police.

It appears the vandalism stems from controversy from a multi-unit affordable housing complex planned for land leased by the church.

“The community here is wonderful, and can be a real benefit for anybody,” Trussell said. “Especially those who need support and care.”

Officials have told CTV News in the past that the 60-unit building is part of the ‘Housing First’ initiative, which is focused on ending homelessness in Alberta.

Edmonton police confirmed officers were investigating the incident; it's believed the building was vandalized between 4 p.m. Tuesday, and 5 p.m. Wednesday.

However, the EPS Hate Crimes Unit is not investigating, as the incident does not meet the criteria for a hate crime.

Mayor Stephen Mandel said such affordable housing projects are desperately needed in Edmonton.

“Projects like that need to be done in phases, so communities can understand the role they play in helping people get over their homeless challenge,” Mandel said.

The church's reverend told CTV News he plans to turn the negative message into a positive one, by creating a mural around the graffiti with a message about ending homelessness.

Public consultation on the project is scheduled to begin in August.

With files from Ashley Molnar