By Charlie Senack, Barrhaven Independent
Ottawa Community Housing is one step closer to building in Barrhaven after city council unanimously approved a transfer of land to the organization.
During city council on Wed. Feb 23, the transfer of land from the City of Ottawa to Ottawa Community Housing was approved for only $2.00.
The land at 3380 Jockvale Rd, near the corner of Longfields Drive, will soon see 32 family-sized units built during phase one.
It will feature two and three bedroom apartments, and will go to families who are experiencing homelessness or families who are at risk of living on the streets.
The goal is to build townhouses with seven accessible apartments on the ground floor, says Ottawa Community Housing.
Plans are already in the works for phase two of the project, which would add another 26 units to the site.
When the city’s finance and economic development committee approved the transfer of land in early February, it was expected to go to council for approval without any problems.
But Barrhaven councillor Jan Harder asked for more time saying the community needed to be consulted. She said “a significant number of community concerns have been raised.”
“Most of these people, in fact all of the people who have written in, found out about the program that allowed the money to be funding this program through the CTV six o’clock news and they have a lot of questions,” she said.
On Feb. 16, a public information session was held where nearby residents could share their concerns and feedback over zoom. Over 130 people attended the meeting and most comments were supportive.
Any worries that came up were from nearby Stonebridge residents, who were concerned over the proposed location.
The Barrhaven West Community Association, which includes where the land in question is situated, said they have received zero complaints about the proposal, and said they were in full support of having additional affordable housing in the community.
Most meeting attendees agreed, and were more concerned about ensuring future residents in the affordable housing complex would have adequate services available to them.
Many referenced The Haven, a separate affordable housing complex off Jockvale Road. It includes: a community garden, play area for kids, and a meeting room for events and gatherings.
Saide Sayah, acting director of housing services at the City of Ottawa, said fir this new affordable housing project, those details are still being worked out.
“We haven’t determined yet what the best supporting model would look like for the families, I think some of that will be up to the families as well and when they move in,” he said. “We are working to ensure there will be adequate space for children, and in the second phase we will probably see something more defined in there for members of that community to meet and take part in activities.”
Resident Jerry Corush, who said he’s a landscape architect and urban designer who’s worked on various projects including the Stonebridge master plan, said while he’s in full support of bringing community housing to the neighborhood, he’s concerned with its proximity to the rest of Barrhaven.
“I have no problem with the ideals you’re after and the exclusiveness of what this project should be for Barrhaven,” Corush said during the public meeting. ”What I’m worried about is that this particular site is somewhat isolated from the Barrhaven Town Centre. Jockvale has no sidewalks, so the real walk to (Marketplace) is over a kilometre. It’s not really connected until the whole master plan is built out , and so this is a concern. A lot of the people who are going to be renting here aren’t going to have cars and you’re somewhat stuck away.”
Corush also had concerns with the modern design of the building, worried it wouldn’t blend in with the residential neighbourhood, saying it “could stand out and be a stigma” for its future residents.
Mary Dickinson, a planner with the City of Ottawa, said while the development would have a disconnect from the rest of Barrhaven for a few years, that would change as the area builds up.
“It’s not built out in this area, but I think it’s important that community housing is part of the grassroots growth of the community,” she said. “So yes there is going to be some growing pains, and it’s going to be a bit harder to get to the town centre now than in the next couple of years, but there is a plan. The folks that are going to be living there are going to have to make due with what’s there until it builds out and becomes easier.”
Dickinson also said that when the selection process begins for residents, Ottawa Community Housing will choose people who are a good fit for the complex.