Ottawa failing to calm eviction fears of low-income families as light-rail line construction looms

Written by Bill Wilson, Editor-in-Chief
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Low-income families are worried they will lose their home to make way for another light-rail line in Ottawa.
Christof Spieler

A light-rail extension in Ottawa, Canada, could displace some low-income homeowners, but officials are trying to assure residents they will be taken care of by the city.

The confidence level, however, is not high as the city’s higher-income bracket squeezes out the rest. Low-income housing is becoming harder and harder to come by in Ottawa. Officials are planning a 10-kilometer Stage 3 LRT extension, which will include the construction of an elevated line from Baseline Station to Barrhaven Town Centre. The project would call for the demolition of Manor Village, which is made up of low-income townhomes that house 300 tenants. Other residential units also will be impacted.

In January, Ottawa declared a housing and homelessness state of emergency caused by rising housing costs and an affordable housing wait list that continues to lengthen.

The city says dwellings that would be eliminated by the light-rail project could be redeveloped, but specifics of a plan are not being offered at this time. The light-rail project could take years to complete due to a current lack of funding. The Transportation Committee claims the needs of the impacted residents are the top priority of the city.

In the meantime, a team behind the light-rail project is wrapping up public feedback and is expected to make recommendations to the city council in November.

Kaite Burkeholder Harris, executive director of the Alliance to End Homelessness Ottawa, says the city is losing affordable housing faster that it can be built.

Manor Village was purchased by Smart Living Properties back on Sept. 1, but residents claim the new owner is not providing any specifics about its plans moving forward. The fear is the company will renovate, then evict.

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