Dear Glebe Annex Residents,
Many residents have expressed concerns about a planned development for a small piece of land at the corner of Booth and Carling, which the city is trying to acquire from the federal government to build supportive housing for the chronically homeless.
GACA spoke with city planners for more information on the plan, the process, and where we stand. The following is a brief summary of that conversation:
The original plan was for the city to acquire the land from the federal government this fiscal year – it’s now looking more likely for next fiscal year.
The planning department is finalizing the application to the federal government, and is planning to submit it within the next few weeks. Therefore, at this point, the community’s ability to influence this application is limited.
On the positive side, the city describes this application as a ‘technical’ document. The application is meant to demonstrate the city’s viability – that it has the money to actually build a building, as well as the ability to carry out a Request for Proposal (RFP) process. In its application, the city will submit the minimum number of units they plan to build, but this will not include information on the intended clients, the size of the units, etc.
The RFP will probably occur in the fall of next year, or early in 2018. According to city planners, having input into the RFP is the best way for the community to influence the process, and the city plans to work with the residents in the RFP development.
In fact, our councillor has asked the planning department work closely with the community as this goes forward. For instance, on his request, the city is planning to provide tours of sites with a similar ‘clientele’ – this includes the Cornerstone women’s housing that was recently built on Booth St (http://www.ottawa.anglican.ca/cornerstone/index.html), as well as the Salus development on Clementine Blvd, which was just finished (http://www.csv.ca/salus-clementine/ay2glad3zgtbbthvw6wkh9yugika56).
We will likely be able to have 4-5 people on each tour – up to 9 or 10 at most – but they can run more than 1 tour if there’s enough interest. This is meant to show us how the facilities are run, the level of support that clients receive, the state of the building, etc. The city will reach out to the community when it’s ready to conduct these tours – presumably once/if the land transfer is approved.
So far the city doesn’t know who the target clientele will be for the building – it could be men, women, a mix of both genders, seniors, etc. However, the city feels that it has largely found homes for chronically homeless men – its earlier efforts were to house that particular demographic, and it has housed about 200 so far. Cornerstone is one organization that has indicated that they need more space, so this could be a place for them to expand. In the case of buildings such as Cornerstone, the planner said this doesn’t have a large impact on the community, as most of the clients stay within the building.
The planners wanted to emphasize that in some neighbourhoods, many were originally against such buildings, but became advocates once they saw the high level of support provided to the clients. For instance, on Gardner Street in Vanier, the City of Ottawa partnered with the John Howard Society to build permanent supportive housing for 34 people (http://johnhoward.on.ca/ottawa/services/residences/). While the majority of the community was initially against it, some people from the neighbourhood actually came out to support it during one phase of consultations.
The planners also mentioned that the police indicate that the type of housing with the proper amount of support and are not very problematic for the community in which they reside – although we intend to follow up with our own research on this.
Some non-profits have approached the city and requested mixed-use buildings – those which have a wider range of unit types. The fact that we were going to have 55 bachelor units was one of the problems that many community members indicated, as many of us wanted to welcome families and a more mixed clientele. However, according to the city, this would likely result in a larger building with more people overall, with more traffic and a larger impact on the community. At this point the city prefers a smaller footprint, with smaller units – while 55 was the number initially put forward, it seems that the city is actually looking at numbers closer to 40 units.
GACA will remain engaged throughout this process, and will keep the community informed. If you have any questions, or would like to be more closely involved in the process, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
President, Glebe Annex Community Association