Shawn Dellaire and her husband wander through the stacked townhouses that sit on land that, for nearly three decades, they had called home.
"Our life has been upside down ever since the fire," says Dellaire. "But we're slowly getting [it] back."
Dellaire and her husband were among the original tenants of Hayley Court and lived there for 27 years before a 2013 fire destroyed the Lees Avenue community housing development and left 35 people homeless.
Now they have the chance to return to the place where they raised their family after Ottawa Community Housing unveiled the rebuilt housing complex to the public Saturday afternoon.
Complex to house 35-40 people
People were invited to tour the $4.5-million complex Saturday, which is able to house two more families than the original property did and about 34 to 40 people in total, said Stéphane Giguère, Ottawa Community Housing's chief executive officer.
Hayley Court's newest incarnation will feature 16 stacked townhouses — a mix of one-, two-, three- and four-bedroom homes — and will use LED lighting and radiant floor heating to increase energy efficiency, according to promotional materials for the property.
Given the number of Ottawans needing affordable housing, Hayley Court's reopening couldn't have come soon enough, says Giguère.
"Ottawa has 10,000 people on the waiting list. This is one of the types of builds we can do here in the community to help alleviate that list," Giguère said.
"It's a renewal — not only for us, but for our tenants and for the community."
'We might come back'
The fire was eventually determined to be accidentally set, Giguère said. The tenants displaced by the blaze will have the right of first refusal for the new homes, he added.
As for Dellaire, while she and her husband are happy with their new place, they're also impressed by Hayley Court and haven't ruled out returning to their former home.
"Maybe we might come back, because it's a quiet neighbourhood," she says. "We made a lot of friends and neighbours."
People are expected to begin moving into the new homes in February.