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Developer pledges $300k to Ottawa charities after controversy over donation to city

Katasa Group headquarters in Gatineau, Que. (Jim O'Grady/CTV News Ottawa) Katasa Group headquarters in Gatineau, Que. (Jim O'Grady/CTV News Ottawa)
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Gatineau-based developer Katasa Group has announced it will be giving $300,000 to local charities in Ottawa following controversy over a proposed deal with the city.

Earlier this year, Capital Ward Coun. Shawn Menard proposed a draft agreement with Katasa that would see the developer provide a "voluntary contribution" of $300,000 to go toward traffic calming measures in and around a proposed development at Carling and Bronson avenues.

Councillors voted to split the funds across all 24 wards following a heated debate in January, but Katasa later pulled back on the planned donation.

"This housing project was the subject of a draft donation agreement with the City of Ottawa, which was discussed but never signed by either party," Katasa said at the time.

In a news release Thursday, Katasa partner Katherine Chowieri said the $300,000 donation was back on the table, but would be given to three as yet unnamed charities in the capital.

"As a company dedicated to building homes, contributing to Ottawa's economic growth as a world-class G7 capital and creating good, well-paying jobs, Katasa cannot overstate our regret for the misconception about our intended $300,000 donation to the City of Ottawa. As we said then, we genuinely believed this type of donation was common and part of the City of Ottawa's process for approving land developments. We now know, of course, that it is not," Chowieri said.

"But as we said in January, we won't let this situation deter Katasa from using these funds to benefit the Ottawa community. Giving back has always been important to my sister and me. We want our donation to have a meaningful and lasting impact on the City of Ottawa."

Chowieri said more details about which charities would benefit from the donation of $100,000 each would be made later in the summer.

"The events earlier this year were regrettable," Chowieri said. "For that, we are sorry. Our announcement today builds upon our relationship with the City of Ottawa and the residents who call this great city home. We hope to earn the community's trust as Katasa continues building homes and creating jobs and economic opportunities across Ottawa."

In a statement, Menard said he thinks it's great Katasa is making a charitable donation.

"That is their prerogative. My job is to advocate for my residents and to ensure new development leads to benefits for both existing and future residents - such as affordable housing and traffic safety. Memorandums of understanding in the city have been a more common practice as of late (we just discussed another one today at the committee table) and can lead to better outcomes for communities," he said.

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