Land Trust to Protect Affordable Housing Sites Near Light Rail and Bus Rapid Transit Stations?

People across the city of Ottawa showed up in a big way today to support the declaration of a housing and homelessness emergency, an effort lead by City Councillors McKenney and King who won unanimous support at City Council for their Motion. The last clause of which included the following:

"BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED THAT staff review and report back to the appropriate Standing Committee and Council on the steps needed for the City to establish a Land Trust to protect publicly-owned lands, including those identified by staff as appropriate for the development of affordable housing near rapid transit."

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Hundreds rally outside Ottawa City Hall in support of a housing and homelessness emergency being declared in the nation's capital; Jan. 29, 2020 (photo by Trevor Haché).

 

With multiple levels of government investing $7 billion in Stages 1, and 2 of Light Rail Transit in the nation's capital, we have been working with dozens of allied organizations and thousands of individuals to ensure the City of Ottawa understands people need accessible and deeply affordable housing prioritized near rapid transit stations here.

We were pleased the Mayor, in his 2020 State of the City address delivered earlier today, re-committed to the idea of equitable transit-oriented development:

And I will be meeting with federal Minister Ahmed Hussen later this week to ask the federal government to move forward with historic investments on affordable housing in the upcoming federal budget – in order to reduce the 56% funding share currently being absorbed by municipalities.

The City is also planning for longer-term opportunities to locate affordable housing near transit stations – because affordable transit is also essential to many residents who cannot afford to own a car to get around the city.

And that’s why this past year, FEDCO approved a plan from the Interdepartmental Task Force on Housing to target 18 prime pieces of land that will become transit-oriented neighbourhoods.

These publicly-owned properties along Bus Rapid Transit and the Trillium and Confederation Lines will be developed over the next 20 years and transformed into communities with a strong mix of affordable housing units.

The first of these affordable housing projects will be located beside our new Central Library Project and will help us kickstart the revitalization of LeBreton Flats.

Much more work needs to be done to ensure the appropriate action is taken to adequately respond to the affordable housing and homelessness crisis, but recognizing the seriousness of the problem is an important first step. The Healthy Transportation Coalition had at least three Board members and many of our organizational members and supporters at the rally this morning.

We must all remain vigilant to ensure the words spoken today are followed by actions, and that the necessary investments to end the affordable housing and homelessness crisis are made soon.

The possibility of establishing a Land Trust in order to protect publicly-owned lands near rapid transit for the development of accessible and deeply affordable housing is something we are strongly in favour of. We see this as essential to achieving transportation equity in Ottawa.

Working together, we can ensure that many thousands of accessible and deeply affordable housing units are built near rapid transit stations in Ottawa over the next 20 years, and beyond.