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Carlington residents express concerns over neighbourhood supportive housing project

At a meeting on Tuesday, residents expressed concerns over a proposed supportive housing development on Merivale Road. (Shaun Vardon, CTV News Ottawa) At a meeting on Tuesday, residents expressed concerns over a proposed supportive housing development on Merivale Road. (Shaun Vardon, CTV News Ottawa)
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At a heated meeting Tuesday evening, residents of Ottawa’s Carlington neighbourhood voiced their concerns over a new supportive housing project proposed by the Shepherds of Good Hope.

The community is already home to three buildings offering similar programs and neighbours say since the latest one opened in June, they have seen negative impacts of crime and open-air drug use in the area.

Frank Germano, one of the organizers of the meeting, says the area's problems are getting worse.

"We have seen an increase in crime and public drunkenness," Germano said.

"There is an oversaturation of supportive housing in our area."

The proposed six-storey building on Merivale Road and Kirkwood Avenue would be home to 70 people and replace a derelict property near an existing Shepherds building housing 57 people.

Shepherds staff took questions from residents and provided some answers, committing to more dialogue with the community.

Ali Campbell, vice president of programming for the Shepherds of Good Hope, says the project is in an 'aspirational phase' and they do not have funding for the new building as of yet.

“What we are trying to do is end chronic homelessness for folks here in Ottawa. I think every neighborhood is one that would benefit from all types of housing,” Campbell said.

"I heard a community of very compassionate and very engaged people who are seeing things in their community that they want us to be aware of."

Local city councillor Riley Brockington took some heat from residents for saying council's hands are tied by provincial legislation.

"We have challenges in this neighbourhood that have existed for a long time, well before the Shepherds came into the community, but there are legitimate concerns that are being raised," Brockington said.

"The development does not require permission form the City of Ottawa, there is no zoning that’s being asked for. If they choose to proceed, the last phase is really a site plan.”

Community members say they plan to keep fighting the development for as long as they can.

The Shepherds have committed to keeping their lines of communication open. There is no timeline for when the new supportive housing development will break ground.

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