Ottawa city coun. Stephen Blais called a public meeting in Orleans Thursday night to address the community’s ongoing concerns about a planned Habitat for Humanity development.
The meeting was held at 8 p.m. Thursday night at Ecole Elementaire des Sentiers where at least 30 people gathered in the school gym to learn and discuss information on the project.
Habitat for Humanity National Capital Region, the local arm of the non-profit organization that assembles volunteers and community partners to build and provide affordable housing, has proposed a development for nine units: four duplexes and one bungalow, at 2129 Nantes Street off Portobello Boulevard in Orleans, Ottawa.
The units would be sold interest-free to low-income families chosen from a waiting list.
The plan has been scaled down and re-designed already to win over some of the displeased residents who also claim that property values have gone down since the plan and they fear that will continue as the project commences.
Coun. Stephen Blais, who called the meeting, warned residents that if the plan from Habitat was scrapped the alternative could be a lot worse.
"If challenges continue to mount on this particular proposal — a private developer may choose to purchase the land - and put up higher density housing in the form of stacks or walk up apartments," Blais said.
'They simply don’t make enough money to get a conventional mortgage from a bank.' —Donna Hick, CEO, Habitat for Humanity Canada
Some residents feel the city is tricking them with these threats to force them to accept the development.
Resident Roger Roy questioned if there was any truth to what Blais and the city are warning against.
"Are they threats? Are they facts?," Roy asked. "We don't know — but we don't like it when the city pushes us like that."
Donna Hick, Habitat’s CEO, said there is a big misconception about the program and the kinds of families that the organization seeks to help that are part of then concern.
"School bus drivers, nurses aids, teachers assistants, it’s people who have jobs, good, steady jobs, but they simply don’t make enough money to get a conventional mortgage from a bank," Hick said.
Despite talks from the organization and local public information meetings many residents remain concerned.