Bob Chiarelli wants the federal government to prioritize affordable housing in projects

“They have a piece of land available that gives them the opportunity to move forward with one of the most affordable housing entities in the country”

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The federal government will be redeveloping two large publicly owned lots adjacent to public transit in Tunney’s Pasture and Confederation Heights in the coming years, and mayoral candidate Bob Chiarelli wants to convince them to make affordable housing a priority.

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Government Real Estate Manager Public Services and Procurement Canada (PSPC) and real estate development-focused Crown Corporation the Canada Lands Company (CLC) are teaming up to plan the transformation of public employment hubs into vibrant, mixed communities.

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The Tunney site west of downtown covers 121 acres north of Scott Street and its light rail station, east of Parkdale Avenue and south of Sir John A. Macdonald Parkway, while Confederation Heights is about three miles south of the The city’s core, is a sprawling 465 acres divided by Heron Road, Riverside Drive, and Bronson Avenue and home to the Mooney’s Bay LRT station — and both are “underused federal sites,” as their owners put it.

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Political veteran Chiarelli hopes he can convince the federal government “that this is a great opportunity for more affordable housing,” and that they should make a significant land contribution, as well as federal funding for its development.

A conceptual representation of residential development in Tunney's Pasture.
A conceptual representation of residential development in Tunney’s Pasture. Photo by handout /government of canada

Units considered affordable are already something the federal partners are planning for both sites. At Tunney’s, a June document on the project’s website states that PSPC and CLC are committed to making 20 percent of housing units affordable, with the definition of affordability and exact numbers yet to be determined. The website for Confederation Heights, which is in the early stages of the redevelopment planning process, says the federal entities involved and the city will work together to find out the details of affordable housing.

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“Priority development in those locations should go towards affordable housing,” Chiarelli argued on Thursday.

“When they look in the mirror, they want to build a lot of new homes all over the country. They make programs for it and so on,” he said of the federal government. “Now they have some land available that gives them the opportunity to move forward with one of the most affordable housing entities in the country.”

While he proposes a partnership with Ottawa Community Housing to provide affordable housing in these federal locations, he did not offer to bring any municipal investment to the table, in the traditional sense. The support he did pledge was a significant reduction in municipal fees for the development.

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In response to a follow-up question on the details, Chiarelli said he has a philosophy “that works more often than not, and that is to get the right people in the same room at the same time. And (if) they come to that table in good faith.” , we will get a very, very practical result out of it. And the result here on a big, big plot of land in the city, which requires a lot of affordable housing – I think the outcome would be very positive.”

A map of Confederation Heights, which the federal government aims to transform into a mixed-use community over time.
A map of Confederation Heights, which the federal government aims to transform into a mixed-use community over time. Photo by handout /government of canada

Chiarelli is proposing a series of housing initiatives as part of his mayoral campaign, which he read to this newspaper in a sit-down interview on Thursday. The public publication of his housing plan was expected shortly.

One proposal is a “use-it-or-lose-it” policy for developers with large tracts of land that they have not developed, despite approval to do so, by getting provincial approval for much higher taxes on undeveloped land and an expiration date for pending approvals.

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Chiarelli also wants to go back to the drawing board, working with the Greater Ottawa Home Builders’ Association (a local development and housing association), to “negotiate” a new version of the Council on High Development Standards approved in April. making developments more sustainable and environmentally friendly.

“They’re builders. They know how to build. They know how to build green. They know how to build ecologically, and so on,” says Chiarelli. “I say we come together and let them have their say, let them make their recommendations.”

One of Chiarelli’s housing pledges made headlines last week. His campaign brought a letter from Chiarelli to Ontario’s minister of municipal affairs, asking that the approval of the city’s official plan be delayed until the new council elected next month can review it again.

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One change Chiarelli would like to see is the withdrawal of the council-approved city boundary extension, with the exception of the lands on the outskirts of Kanata North that were excluded from the extension, which he says could be completed relatively quickly. developed. On Thursday, he raised the possibility of using a powerful veto by the mayor to bring about the freezing of the city limits, but he quickly followed it up by saying that “it’s not something I would seriously think about.”

Mayoral candidates Catherine McKenney and Mark Sutcliffe released their housing platforms last Wednesday and Friday respectively.

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During Thursday’s interview, this newspaper asked Chiarelli – a minister before his 2018 provincial election loss and first mayor of the merged city of Ottawa who will turn 81 on election day – why he is running for mayor, in what he says. noted Wednesday is his 12th election campaign (he won nine, lost two), between municipal and provincial races.

He pointed to his commitment to the community, his experience and his belief that Ottawa is heading in the wrong direction on many fronts.

“I have a lot to offer. I’m offering all of this,” he said, pointing to the campaign policy documents around him. “I could lose the election. That’s fine… That won’t kill me. But I bring things to the table that other people wouldn’t bring to the table, moving forward. And I think that’s a contribution.”

-With Postmedia files

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