June 5, 2018
Affordable Housing: A Cornerstone of Every Great Municipality
The lack of affordable housing across Ottawa is a real and growing concern. There are over 48,000 Ottawa households in need, but only 24,000 housing options available. This is not a problem exclusive to Alta Vista. This is a City-wide problem and we must continue to expand upon our efforts to address this issue.
Addressing affordable housing is a complex issue that requires a multi-faceted approach. All levels of government, non-profits and the private sector have a role to play and should be working together.
Public leaders must now be more vocal than ever before.
The residents of Heron Gate want to grow and prosper in their community and they should be given every opportunity to do so. This will require a firm resolve by Heron Gate residents working alongside community leaders to create a plan built firmly upon the voices of the community. When we stand together in an effort to make things better and achieve results, there is nothing that cannot be achieved.
But actions must speak louder than words.
What can be done?
In January 2014, the City of Ottawa adopted a 10 year plan to address housing and homelessness.
To help review and accelerate progress on the 10 year plan, Mark Taylor, Deputy Mayor and Special Liaison for Housing and Homelessness issued a report in March 2018 entitled: "Everyone Together - Ottawa, A Caring and Compassionate City". The report noted that our city has made some very positive strides in the areas of affordable housing and homelessness, but we need to do more.
I believe that when people are able to thrive in their homes, we are creating an opportunity - for each and every individual to learn, play and grow within a community that is theirs.
I am committed to being part of the solution that will create these kinds of opportunities - as our community of Alta Vista and the City of Ottawa will all be stronger for it. Therefore, as Alta Vista's City Councillor I will strongly support:
1. More funding for existing initiatives that are working:
Advocate for the use of initiatives like the Building Better Revitalized Neighborhoods framework to strengthen at-risk communities and neighborhoods. To date, the City has invested $250K to develop two pilot projects in Ottawa with the goal to develop revitalization strategies for at risk communities. I will fight to ensure that additional funding within the city budget is allocated so we can continue initiatives like these. I believe solutions to neighborhood issues should be built in collaboration with residents living within a community, because they know their neighborhoods the best.
2. Fair rules for playing
Advocate for the City of Ottawa to consider creating a dedicated renters protection manager to help renters explore their rights when landlords want to renovate or redevelop properties.
Work with my MPP counterpart to advocate for extending regulations for inclusionary zoning to the rental sector.
3. Engaging with youth - as they are the future of our communities
In the case of Heron Gate, we are at a crossroads with the secondary planning process that is underway. This is a unique opportunity for residents, especially youth, to shape the future of their community. Yet, there is a disconnect. Through the planning process, residents are being asked to guide the direction of their neighborhood, while at the same time many of them are being told that they must leave their homes. How can we shape the future of Heron Gate when some residents are being told that they are not welcome at the planning table? The short answer is: we can't. I believe community consultations and value added engagements start at every resident’s door, not at the door of developers. I will continue to work with local community leaders as well as key stakeholders from the non-profit community to ensure that Heron Gate residents can help shape their community’s future.
4. Fight to increase the City's affordable housing stock
For over a decade, the City of Ottawa has acknowledged that there are gaps in existing housing stock to meet the needs for affordable housing. In 2007, the City of Ottawa produced "The City Housing Strategy" and identified recommended actions including: "exploring opportunities for the City to acquire and rehabilitate existing buildings in order to maintain or increase the stock of affordable rental housing.”
Now, more than 11 years later - the most recent March 2018 report recommends: "Ottawa requires more housing. The private market has scattered mixed use housing that could be ready to buy immediately. Through researching this report, no compelling reason was found why the City of Ottawa cannot add to its housing stock by arranging the purchase of a number of housing product from private developers for affordable housing".
Clearly, more work needs to be done. I will fight to increase the City's affordable housing stock.
Let’s get started
These steps are but just some of the initiatives that can be taken toward making the City of Ottawa a better place to live.
Moving forward, I am committed to working with and listening to all key stakeholders who are dedicated to achieving results in the area of affordable housing. I am confident that with a concerted effort we can achieve results not only in Alta Vista but across the city.