City seeks Dow's Lake area land for supportive housing

The city hopes to acquire a piece of federal land on Carling Avenue for $1, so a housing provider can build units for people are chronically homeless.
The City of Ottawa hopes to buy a parking lot at 289 Carling Avenue from the Canada Lands Company so it can be used for a supportive housing complex. (Google Street View)

The City of Ottawa is hoping to buy a parcel of land on Carling Avenue near Dow's Lake for a dollar, so the lot can be used for a new supportive housing complex.

The development would create stable housing for people who are chronically homeless, and offer health care and other on-site supports services.

The project is still in its very early stages, but on Tuesday Ottawa's planning committee gave staff the approval to apply to a federal program for the land and, eventually, to find a builder.

The 1,270 square-metre lot is owned by Canada Lands Corporation, and is located beside the Booth Street complex and very near Commissioners' Park at Dow's Lake. The city estimates it to be worth $2.5 million.

But it hopes to pay only $1 for it, under a program that makes surplus federal property available to be developed for housing projects that can reduce homelessness.

Already, neighbours are expressing concerns about the development, said the ward's councillor, David Chernushenko, and will want to see public consultation.

City aims to have development built in 2018

If its application is accepted, city staff would hope to negotiate with the federal government in 2017 and then launch a request for proposals to find a group to whom it could transfer the land, likely in 2018.

While the city would only sell the lot for $1, staff say the housing branch could contribute $7 million to the building project.

Staff believe 45 to 55 units could be built on the lot, which has been used for parking since the 1960s.

The city has used this federal program twice before. It transferred land on Albion Road, which became 64 units for the non-profit McLean Co-operative Housing Inc.

It also bought a $1.7 million property on Den Haag Drive from the federal government for a dollar in 2011, and the Ottawa Community Immigrant Services Organization then built an eight-storey, 74-unit apartment building and townhouses.