Ottawa’s planning committee clears way for city’s tallest building and $15 million in affordable housing

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Ottawa Construction News

The City of Ottawa’s Planning Committee in June approved a $15 million spending plan to help housing providers deliver more than 550 new affordable units as it cleared the way for a massive three-tower project near a key transit hub – including a structure that will become the city’s tallest building.

The funds will focus on projects that provide affordable housing to low- and moderate-income renters and supportive housing, the city says in a statement. However, the development at 900 Albert St. including a 65-story tower, won’t have affordable housing, as developer Trinity Developments has agreed to pay more than $6 million in cash in lieu of providing affordable housing units there, CBC reported earlier.

The planned towers at 900 Albert, across from Bayview Station include a 24-story office tower, along with the 65 story skyscraper. Another 56-storey residential tower will be built later. The development promises to add 1,241 dwellings along with retail and office space, all connected to Bayview Station by a new pedestrian bridge.

For the affordable housing funding, Ottawa Community Housing Corporation (OCHC) will receive $10 million for projects including 338 units within Phase I of Gladstone Village and 220 units within Phase II of Rochester Heights. An additional $2 million would fund pre-development activities to prepare surplus city-owned lands already identified for affordable housing.

The city has also set aside $3 million to acquire or finance hotels and motels that might become available due to current economic conditions. A request for offers was issued in May and could add to the overall number of affordable units created.

The approved plan also proposes how to spend $2.58 million from the Ontario Priorities Housing Initiative. OCHC would receive $1.62 million for the third and final building at 715 Mikinak Rd. in Wateridge Village, promising up to 42 units and a partnership with the developmental services sector. Habitat for Humanity would receive $960,000 to pilot an affordable rent-to-own housing project at 455 Wanaki Rd., also in Wateridge Village.

The staff report also highlights several affordable housing initiatives beyond 2020:

  • At 159 Forward Ave., Centretown Citizens Ottawa Corporation will start to build 31 affordable units later this year.
  • At 1010 Somerset St, W., OCHC will start to build more than 1,000 affordable units in 2021.
  • At 557 Albert St,, the city is in negotiations about 100 affordable units on city land in LeBreton Flats.
  • At 1770 Heatherington Rd., formal planning applications are underway for 150 units, a public park and community hub.

The committee also approved at its June 25 meeting a temporary zoning amendment to relax regulations around restaurant and retail patios, to help encourage economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic. The city would be more flexible about size and location of restaurant patios and outdoor retail space, to help businesses accommodate patrons and maintain physical distancing.

The temporary change to regulations would apply for the current patio season and would expire on Saturday, Oct. 31.

The committee approved zoning to permit a commercial parking lot within the garage of two 27-storey towers under construction on Gloucester and Nepean streets, west of Metcalfe Street. The building was planned as a condo but has become a rental building with less demand for tenant parking than anticipated. The committee approved using 125 surplus spaces to help meet downtown parking demand.

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