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Op-Ed: Residents must ‘create’ not ‘look’ at Heron Gate of the future

February 16th, 2019
Read this week’s Op-Ed in the Community Voice (Ottawa South) by #RPCRA Director George Brown on #HeronGate:
 
http://ottawavoice.ca/assets/ottawa-south-0214—web.pdf
 

Residents must ‘create’ not ‘look’ at Heron Gate of the future

by George Brown
First of all, I want to thank Your Community Voice – Ottawa South for your ex-cellent ongoing coverage of all things Heron Gate. Although the news to date has not been good, it has been accurate. However, I do see a faint light at the end of the tunnel. From reading your front page Jan. 31 ar-ticle “Residents soon to get first look at Heron Gate of the future” it appears that Coun. Cloutier has been listening.
 
In the article he talks about “rejuvenating that commu-nity” and states that “so-cial infrastructure must also be considered in the (Secondary) Plan.” Anyone who has lived or lives in Heron Gate would be for-given for taking exception to this comment. I have spo-ken with many tenants who love this community and find it to be supportive and nurturing … and already rejuvenating.
 
However, I digress.
 
The article raises several key questions. The council-lor says we must develop a “mechanism to ensure that evicted tenants are given a chance to stay within their neighbourhood” and he goes on to say that the city is exploring legal avenues to ensure that tenants have a right to return to the com-munity. I would add to “affordable family sized housing units.”
 
I have good news. There are several major initia-tives in the works that can deal with many of the con-cerns raised by the people of Heron Gate, as well as by the councillor.
 
First of all, I suggest ev-eryone look at and that the councillor support Ottawa ACORN’s “Healthy Homes Platform.” To sum-marize, ACORN members want: 1. Landlord licensing 2. Rental replacement by-laws and no winter evictions in the case of redevelopment 3. Inclusionary zoning.
 
Space does not allow me to discuss at length these three important asks. One only needs to look to the City of Toronto, which has imple-mented all three strategies to protect tenants and pre-serve affordability. It’s time for the City of Ottawa to get caught up.
 
I would suggest that while the issue of a landlord li-censing policy works its way through the city bureaucra-cy, that Coun. Cloutier ask city council to implement a Proactive-Bylaw (property standards to be specific) Enforcement program for Heron Gate. This has been implemented in the past to deal with chronic problem properties and landlords. Does anyone doubt that Heron Gate would qualify?
 
Secondly, I am very ex-cited about a recent ini-tiative of Ottawa ACORN and the South-East Ottawa Community Health Centre to facilitate the residents of Heron Gate in develop-ing the first “Community Benefits Agreement” in Ottawa.
 
Community benefits le-verage public and private investments in communi-ties to create decent work, affordable housing, and so-cial infrastructure that im-prove the quality of life for all community members.
 
Community Benefits Agreements (CBAs) are legally binding contractu-al agreements negotiated between a community co-alition and developers to en-sure that impacted residents can share the benefits of a development without hav-ing to fear displacement. CBAs are a much broader approach to community planning than your typical bricks and mortar focus.
 
The Parkdale community in Toronto just completed the “Parkdale Community Benefits Framework– Guide for Development without Displacement” to help frame CBAs in their community.
 
Their vision contains five collective principles: eq-uitable process, affordable housing, affordable com-mercial, decent work, com-munity assets.
 
What will Heron Gate’s vi-sion and principles be?
 
I can’t wait to find out.
 
Riverside Park resident George Brown is a lawyer and former Ottawa city councillor.
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