Community members at a Jan. 25 information meeting about a Habitat for Humanity development weren’t all happy with planned parking or the number of units being built in Orléans, but the project is likely to proceed this spring.
Habitat for Humanity Greater Ottawa purchased a property at Fortune Drive and Jeanne d’Arc Boulevard in 2015 that already had the proper zoning in place for either an apartment building or town homes to be built.
They revealed plans to build 16 town home units over three to four years – depending on their fundraising – at the Orléans site at a meeting in late 2015, to some residents’ dismay. Some area homeowners were concerned the development would be too dense and wanted to know how they could appeal the zoning.
City staff made it clear on Jan. 25 that the zoning was a done deal, and couldn’t be changed.
“This evening we’re here to talk about the site plan,” said planner Julie Lebrun, who noted the point of the meeting was to inform the community about the plans and allows those interested to ask questions. “The zoning is already in place, so we’re not here to talk about the zoning, and we’re not here to change the proposal.”
Some who attended the meeting still urged Habitat for Humanity staff to re-evaluate the project and consider building fewer, but larger, homes on the lot.
Murray Chown, a project manager who works on behalf of Habitat, said that Habitat won’t meet it’s mandate of providing simple, affordable homes if it builds fewer but larger homes on the land they’ve already purchased.
Habitat for Humanity Greater Ottawa CEO Alexis Ashworth said the families that Habitat works well usually have a total family income of $43,000 to $65,000 a year.
That’s also one of the reasons Habitat for Humanity staff used to justify the one parking spot provided per unit at the development – their homebuyers don’t usually have extra vehicles. The development is also close to public transit, and the home buyers will be aware well in advance that there is only one parking spot per unit. There will also be two visitor spots in the development.
The houses will be built in phases, ideally with four built in 2016, four in 2017, and eight in 2018. If the funding isn’t there, only four would be built in 2018 with the last four finished in 2019.
The houses that back onto other residential properties, and are away from the street, will be the first to go up. That decision was reached after consultation with the nearby homes, who will have the first homes as buffer for future construction.
Currently, Habitat and city planners are working on making minor changes to address comments on the project made by city staff. If all goes well, Habitat for Humanity hopes to build this spring.
Traffic has been a longstanding issue in the area, since before Habitat bought the land and announced plans for the homes.
Many children walk in the area to school, and between Jeanne d’Arc Boulevard traffic, school buses – and lack there of due to changes that see more children walking to school, and school drop offs, there have been a variety of problems.
Coun. Bob Monette is planning a meeting to deal with the issue of traffic separately, he said. The meeting will likely be in April, and Monette said he hopes some traffic calming measures can be introduced this spring.
Ashworth said if the build starts on time, they hope to be able to coordinate the construction schedule with school start and end times to have the least construction taking place while children are walking to and from school.