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Parking concerns delay vote on affordable units in Orléans

A rendering of the proposal for about 80 units in Orléans. (Kindred Works - image credit)
A rendering of the proposal for about 80 units in Orléans. (Kindred Works - image credit)

Ottawa's planning committee voted Monday to refer an application for an Orléans housing development back to city staff over parking and traffic concerns, and some councillors and delegates say it's an unnecessary delay of much-needed affordable housing.

The proposed rezoning of 360 Kennedy Ln. E. , which is near the intersection of Tenth Line Road and St. Joseph Boulevard, would allow Kindred Works, the development and asset manager for the United Church of Canada, to build 81 units in a mix of townhouses and stacked townhouses.

The build would replace a grass field and a large parking lot, while Queenswood United Church would remain. Thirty per cent of the units would qualify as affordable.

The number of parking spaces — 20 short of one per unit — was a key sticking point for more than 800 people who signed an online petition opposing the project.

'No room' for 20 cars, councillor says

Orléans West-Innes Coun. Laura Dudas introduced the motion to send the plan back on behalf of Orléans East-Cumberland Coun. Matthew Luloff, who is not on the planning committee but whose ward includes the proposed development.

Luloff told the committee Monday "serious outstanding concerns about traffic and parking" require attention before the project should proceed.

"There is no room for 20 additional vehicles, much less room for the existing demand for parking in the area as conditions currently exist," Luloff said.

CBC
CBC

Councillors who voted against the motion said the project was a prime example of much-needed "missing middle" housing, or what the province describes as "gentle density" that fits single-home neighbourhoods.

"Do I need to unfurl a banner that says we're in the middle of a housing emergency?" Somerset Coun. Ariel Troster asked. "Homes are more important than car storage."

The city estimates about 10,000 households are on the social housing wait-list and wait times can be up to five years or more.

"It's not just this application. It's this one and the next one and the next one — and it leads to an unconscionable delay in building much-needed affordable housing," Troster said.

City of Ottawa
City of Ottawa

The motion to refer the project back to planning staff carried with a 7-5 vote.

Councillors Riley Brockington, Cathy Curry, Dudas, Clarke Kelly, Catherine Kitts, Wilson Lo and George Darouze voted for the motion. Councillors Jeff Leiper, Glen Gower, Laine Johnson, Theresa Kavanagh and Troster voted against.

The church-associated group said it remains "committed" to working with the city.

"They [the city] are our partners in this mission," Kindred Works CEO Tim Blair told CBC in an email. "The reality is that Kindred Works can't solve Canada's housing crisis alone."

Delays can have 'tremendous impact'

Dean Tester, co-founder of the Ottawa-based advocacy group Make Housing Affordable, spoke as a delegate at the meeting Monday.

In an interview with CBC Wednesday, he said delays can have a "tremendous impact" on developers.

According to Tester, those impacts include the increased cost of labour and materials, and the potential for increased regulatory costs in the event of a legal dispute with the city.

"This is a unique group that said, 'Out of the goodness of our hearts, we're going to sacrifice profits and build affordable units,'" Tester said.

"And the city said, 'No, you're not — unless you build more parking.'"

City staff were not able to provide an estimate for when parking and traffic concerns for the Kindred Works project could be addressed.