The City of Ottawa's Planning Committee is approving Hazelview Investments' redevelopment plan in Heron Gate after community members and associations voiced their concerns about the area's residents being able to afford the new units in the long-term.
"We strongly object the average market rent proposal, because it is not affordable to our members. And the second issue we have is knowing whether the new apartments with be affordable is very confusing, and no one we have spoken to in the city [or] the developer has given us a clear answer," says Last Mazambini, Heron Gate resident and member of the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN).
Alta Vista Ward City Councillor Jean Cloutier tabled a motion at committee, highlighting a clause for the developer to hold rent prices at affordable levels for the next 10 years. But even with the adoption of the motion, some area residents say that will only help them for the next 10 years.
Hundreds of homes were demolished in Heron Gate and residents evicted in 2016 and 2018. Some of those families will be settling into the new development.
"Hazleview is pretending that tenants whose homes will be demolished will have a choice to get a unit in a new building, but this is not a choice," says Mavis Finnamore, former Heron Gate resident who was evicted in 2016. "After 10 years the prices of rent will skyrocket and tenants will be pushed out."
Finnamore says after 10 or 20 years, the time limit on housing affordability in the city will run out and there won't be any affordable units left for the people of Heron Gate.
As of today, 12,571 people in Ottawa are on a wait list for an affordable housing unit in the city, which City Councillor Shawn Menard says is the most the city has ever seen.