Joint Committee Meeting for Lansdowne 2.0 Project
As my staff send out this week’s newsletter the Finance and Corporate Services and Planning and Housing committee, of which I am a voting member, continues to be in session to review the proposed Lansdowne 2.0 project. This joint committee meeting began on Thursday morning. We just finished hearing from over 80 delegations review and discuss their thoughts on the proposal.
I appreciate all those who took the time to appear before the committee. Some were entertaining but all were passionate about their views.
As I have stated previously, I have concerns with the cost of this project, the absence of affordable housing and the continuing lack of transit, to what is a major attraction site. I will continue to voice these concerns and ask questions of staff as this items moves forward.
1 Corkstown Road Information Session
On Wednesday evening my office held a well-attended information session with City staff on 1 Corkstown Road. This meeting gave staff the opportunity to provide a presentation to residents and answer questions associated with the report that staff will be presenting to the City of Ottawa’s Finance and Corporate Services Committee on November 7th where they will be seeking the authority to enter into a lease agreement for this location. If the lease negotiations are successful, the City will use this site to temporarily house families with children while more long-term housing options are found.
If you were not able to attend the information session on November 1 or would like to revisit the presentation you can watch the full meeting here on my YouTube Channel.
I encourage residents who want to provide input on this report to reach out to the committee coordinator by:
- Submitting written comments to firstname.lastname@example.org by 4:00 pm on November 6.
- Make an in person or virtual presentation at the November 7 Finance and Corporate Services Committee Meeting. Register by phone at 613-580-2424 x21838 prior to 4:00 pm on November 6, or email email@example.com no later than 8:30 am on November 7.
I am not a voting member of the Finance and Corporate Services Committee but will be in attendance to listen to delegations and ask questions to staff. The reason this decision is being asked with a short time frame is the urgent need for more transitional housing for families.
Up to now many homeless families have been placed in local shelters and overflow hotels, motels and post-secondary residences. The prospect of the property at 1 Corkstown for transitional housing is far superior to the current overflow sites. The site would have staffing 24/7 and offer supports and resources to families in need. Overflow sites have inadequate space especially for larger families who cannot fit in one room never mind cook a meal for their families and have space for children to do their homework or play a game. Additionally, large families often need two rooms increasing the costs for these overflow sites as compared to this proposed facility.
We need to offer families the opportunity to become successful citizens of our city and with a better start that is possible. There is an increase in the number of refugees coming to Ottawa which has meant a need for more transitional housing. This is why 1 Corkstown property is being considered for lease.
I heard many concerns from residents asking why this facility is not being used for seniors in need instead of families. Currently, the urgency is for families, many who need immediate assistance. No one wants to see families on the street. As the Council Liaison for Older Adults and chair of Ottawa Community Housing (OCH) I know that housing older adults is important. OCH currently has 22 buildings specifically for those on a limited income with targeted programs such as Aging in Place that offers services to help residents.
Chartwell Retirement Residence operated a for profit building for older adults who could afford it. I don’t have information on the business decision on why Chartwell decided to vacate but the trend in this industry is to create larger retirement buildings to save money on central operations. At the other end of the spectrum more and more low-income older adults are singles or couples on a fixed income. I will continue to advocate to see more homes for seniors and families.
It should be noted that more and more seniors in need of housing, including those who are now homeless, have complex needs including addiction issues and who need supportive housing which we want to see them receive. As was stated by city staff, addiction in transitional family housing is rarely an issue. Statistically there are more addictions issues in the general population in neighbourhoods across Ottawa.
The Corkstown building is an excellent space to give families a good start with the supports they need onsite. Although it is not in a neighbourhood with immediate amenities it has bus service that is an 11-minute ride to a grocery store at Bayshore. The City partners with OC Transpo to ensure everyone can access a monthly bus pass and this will aid in reaching the amenities at Bayshore, but also across the city. Again, this is still, overall, a better situation than what they are currently experiencing, and the end goal is to find permanent affordable housing for all. As mentioned by city staff the average stay in transitional housing is less than six months.
I have been asked repeatedly by residents if this transitional housing will devalue surrounding property. Property value is based on many factors that primarily depends on the marketplace and supply. The reason housing prices are inflated across the city is because there is a shortage of homes for everyone. We are also seeing a severe shortage of rentable homes. This is why housing prices are going up and this is not likely to change although interest rates have more of an impact on home value than anything else. In addition, construction costs for new builds and retrofits have increased significantly in recent years – which is the reason why staff have looked at sites that are appropriate for immediate occupancy. Having families in need in your neighbourhood is a reality check on what happens when there aren’t affordable places to live for their families and that, in the long run, hurts us all as a city. As the Chair of Ottawa Community Housing, I am pushing hard at every opportunity to advocate to build more deep affordable housing, so we no longer need as much transitional housing.
I continue to notice the high prices on homes in our community for sale due to the desirability of the neighbourhood. Perhaps the real question is does homelessness have a negative effect on our city and the answer overwhelming is yes so let’s support building more housing for all.
From the beginning of 2022 to August 2023, 840 families moved from homelessness to long-term housing.
I appreciate all of the work that the City is doing in exploring opportunities for safe accommodations to house families in need.