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Ottawa housing committee's delay of project due to parking complaint draws backlash

Ottawa's housing committee is facing criticism after a proposed development in Orléans that includes dozens of affordable housing units was delayed due to a lack of parking spaces.

The decision is prompting backlash from residents and other officials.

The development at 360 Kennedy Lane East would include 81 residential units, a combination of townhomes and three-storey walk-ups, according to the developer Kindred Works. A third of those units would be priced at below market rent. The development would be built on what is currently a field next to Queenswood United Church.

However, during Monday's planning and housing committee meeting, the issue of parking spaces was raised. A motion moved by Coun. Laura Dudas on behalf of Councillor Matthew Luloff mentions an online petition with just over 800 signatures that raises concerns about additional traffic, a lack of on-street parking in the area, negative effects on property values and worries about "urbanizing an otherwise quiet neighbourhood." The proposal would also have nine fewer parking spaces than there are units.

The motion called on committee to send the zoning change back to staff to "work through the outstanding traffic and parking concerns and… consider the imposition of conditions to manage construction parking during the build." It also asks that staff request the owners issue a "warning clause" to potential tenants to make them aware of the limited parking.

Luloff, who is not a member of the committee, told members he doesn't think the development is ready to be approved.

"There's a way for this development to move forward respectfully and with the support of the community, but we're not there yet," he said. "There remains serious outstanding concerns that have not been addressed by the applicant or city staff. These concerns require serious attention and resolution before this project can proceed in order to secure the buy-in from the community."

Carly Forrester, an urban planner representing the applicant Kindred Works, told committee that delaying the project would make it more expensive, but the developer remains committed to finishing the project.

"As some of the delegates mentioned, any delay in this will add costs to the construction," she said. "As we all know, it's difficult to build affordable housing as is, so any further delay will increase the cost of the project."

The motion passed by a vote of 7 to 5, with Councillors Riley Brockington, Catherine Kitts, George Darouze, Cathy Curry, Clarke Kelly, Wilson Lo and Dudas voting in favour. Against were Councillors Glen Gower, Theresa Kavanagh, Jeff Leiper, Laine Johnson and Ariel Troster.

Troster took to social media after the vote to express her concerns, sharing a clip of the recorded meeting from the city's YouTube livestream.

"Do I need to unfurl a banner that says we're in the middle of a housing emergency?" Troster said to committee. "I think it's really problematic. It's not just this application, it's the next one, and the next one, and the next one, and it leads to an unconscionable delay in building much-needed affordable housing."

Ottawa city council declared a housing and homelessness emergency in early 2020.

Troster said on Twitter she is confident the project will eventually move forward but called the delay a real shame.

Federal Opposition housing critic Scott Aitchison, the Conservative MP for Parry Sound—Muskoka, responded to Troster's tweet to voice his support.

"Ottawa City Council still has an opportunity to make this right," he wrote. "(Ariel Troster) absolutely nails the argument in favour of this project. I don't care what your political leanings are - this crisis we are in calls for #YIMBY champions, not #NIMBY cowards."

NIMBY is short for "not in my backyard" and is used to describe people who oppose changes to their own neighbourhoods. YIMBY is the opposite: "yes, in my backyard".

Several other social media users spoke in Troster's defence, including Kindred Works, who thanked Troster for her support.

Coun. Sean Devine pointed out that the nearest grocery store is a 14-minute walk according to Google Maps.

"Transit, schools, shopping: all close by. This does not need a 1-to-1 parking ratio," he tweeted.

With the zoning change deferred, it’s unclear how long it will take before it comes back before committee for approval. The project has been in the works since early last year. Top Stories

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