Ottawa Planning Committee approves plans to invest in more supportive housing

bracon hill site
2040 Arrowsmith Dr. in Beacon Hill

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Ontario Construction News staff writer

Ottawa’s municipal Planning Committee has approved a spending plan for 2021 to create new affordable housing through agreements with housing providers.

Several projects were approved by the committee at its meeting last Thursday, which will go before city council today.

Staff anticipate completing 265 units by the end of 2021 and the spending plan would help create another 295 permanent affordable units, bringing the total number of units under development across Ottawa to 1,730.

Available funding sources in 2021 total more than $44 million, including $15 million committed through the city’s 2021 budget, more than $22 million from the Federal Government for round two of the Rapid Housing Initiative, and $4.7 million from the province’s Ontario Priorities Housing Initiative.

Staff will update the committee this fall with details on the $22 million in federal funds.

Of the $15 million in city funding, $5 million would go to redevelop city lands at 2040 Arrowsmith Dr. in Beacon Hill with both affordable housing and new space for the Gloucester Emergency Food Cupboard. Another $4 million would be earmarked to support affordable housing under the Rapid Housing Initiative, adding to $6 million already committed to ongoing longer-term housing projects.

Of the $4.7 million available in provincial funding, the city would commit $750,000 for a Black-led family housing pilot, encouraging a housing provider to acquire existing housing stock, complete any needed repairs and offer up to five units at an affordable rent to Black-led families. The pilot would help establish a strategy to help target specific populations in need of affordable housing.

An additional $2.7 million would go to Centretown Citizens Ottawa Corporation to complete a project at 147 and 159 Forward Ave. with a revised design that would add another 18 affordable units to an ongoing project that was already set to deliver 31 units.

The city would also temporarily reallocate more than $7 million previously allocated to Ottawa Community Housing Corporation’s Gladstone Village project, enabling them to instead start construction on their 42-unit building at 715 Mikinak Rd.

As well, the committee approved an Official Plan Amendment that would permit redevelopment of a 21-hectare property just west of the Herongate Square shopping mall. Redevelopment would take 20 to 25 years and would feature a mix of rental townhouses and apartment buildings. Ultimately the site would include more than 6,400 units, with about 1,300 renovated in existing buildings and more than 5,100 new units.

The amendment would increase permitted height for apartment buildings of up to 25 storeys and allow for a new city park. It would also establish a policy with guiding principles for the site about land use, built form, public realm, community benefits and housing affordability.

The amendment is contingent on an agreement with the city that would commit the applicant to provide 1,020 units of affordable housing for a period between 15 and 20 years at various levels of affordability, including 510 units in existing buildings and another 510 in new buildings. Residents in occupied units would also be given the option to relocate to newly constructed equivalent units at the same rent or to a newly renovated unit at the same rent, at an earlier date.

In other business, the committee also approved zoning changes that would permit a couple of two-tower residential developments. On Clyde Avenue north of Baseline Road, two mixed-use towers of 18 and 28 storeys would add 416 dwelling units near the future Baseline Bus Rapid Transit corridor.

On a property between Lisgar and Nepean streets, east of Bank Street, two residential towers of 27 and 25 storeys would add 475 units to a highly walkable downtown neighbourhood. As part of that development, the city has also secured an investment of more than $753,000 from the applicant for community benefits, including contributions to affordable housing and improvements to Metcalfe Street.

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