Work affordable housing into LRT plans, advocates urge

Housing advocates in Ottawa want to make sure people with low incomes have access to prime real estate along future LRT routes before it's too late.

Act now before low-income residents priced out of neighbourhoods near LRT routes, councillors told

The O-Train pulls in to Bayview Station in Ottawa on May 15, 2017. (Trevor Pritchard/CBC)

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  • On May 9, Coun. Catherine McKenney directed staff to form a working group on the issue.

UPDATE | On May 9, Coun. Catherine McKenney directed staff to form a working group on the issue.


Housing advocates in Ottawa want to make sure people with low incomes have access to prime real estate along future LRT routes before it's too late.

Several affordable housing advocates addressed the city's transportation committee Wednesday, where they urged councillors to set aside land to build housing for the people who need transit most.

State-of-the-art transit systems like the one Ottawa's planning tend to drive up the value of real estate nearby, and drive people with low incomes out of those neighbourhoods, said Trevor Haché of the Healthy Transportation Coalition..

"We know that there's a tremendous shortage of deeply affordable housing in Ottawa," Haché said. He encouraged councillors to think creatively about how to solve that problem.

Build at park-and-rides 

Parking lots, for example, are often dead spaces in off-peak hours. Haché said he uses the Eagleson park-and-ride — the most popular in the city — which is often deserted at night. Those spaces could be used for affordable housing as well, he said.

"We want to ensure that when there are opportunities, such as at park-and-ride facilities, for something more than just a parking lot that the city takes advantage," he said.
The Eagleson park-and-ride is one of the busiest in the city, but is nearly empty of people during off-peak hours. (Laura Osman/CBC)

The city has a small window of opportunity during an LRT project to get ahead of the problem, said grad student Jesse Steinberg, who researches policy as it relates to public transit.

He said once the area around the transit line is built up it's very difficult to find a place for low-income people.

Low-income residents squeezed

The city has taken on several major affordable housing projects along the its approved LRT routes, transportation general manager John Manconi told councillors.

He pointed to a mixed-income housing project on Gladstone Avenue and the LeBreton Flats development plan as examples.

But Coun. Catherine McKenney said low-income residents are already being squeezed out of parts of her downtown ward. She wants to see a working group of different departments established to maximize the amount of affordable housing along future LRT routes.