A complete community is one where people can live, work and play throughout their lives. Complete communities provide spaces for children, welcome students, encourage families and support us as we age. Such communities are diverse and sustainable. The neighbourhoods that make up Capital Ward can and should become complete communities. But they need the support of city council to get there.
I believe the communities of Capital Ward needs a strong advocate who supports the community assets and services we have and will advocate for those we need. This is especially true when it comes to affordable and accessible housing options and improved transportation infrastructure throughout the ward and the city. As President of the Glebe Community Association, I established committees relating to health, social services and housing to work on community needs and also advocated for assets such as local skating rinks. Here is how I plan on working towards complete communities for Capital Ward:
Community Assets & Services
Capital Ward is growing. Almost every neighbourhood in Capital Ward is experiencing both population growth and intensification. The communities in the Ward, like much of the city and country, are home to large numbers of both young families and residents over 65. While a number of community amenities exist, for instance, the Glebe Community Centre, the Firehall in Old Ottawa South and the Old Town Hall in Old Ottawa East, all face the pressures of limited space and resources, while Heron Park lacks sufficient public space entirely.
- Advocate for a community centre for Heron Park – this involves developing a project and funding plan for capital and operating costs and achieving City, Provincial and Federal funding commitments ;
- Revitalize community assets in Brewer Park, including establishing funding and implementation plans for new recreation facilities (skating rink and oval, swimming pool, community garden);
- Support current community efforts and City processes for development of new community space in Old Ottawa East;
- Replace the boarded skating rink in the Glebe;
- Provide support for local groups to help seniors live independently longer, including for programs to reduce isolation, maintain daily living routines and maintain their homes.
Affordable and Accessible Housing
Capital Ward has a diverse housing stock that includes both rentals and owner-occupied homes. But it also has some of the lowest vacancy rates in the City as well as some of the highest average housing prices. There is a need, in both the Ward and across the City, for a better blend of housing options. It’s important to both the Ward and the city to provide more affordable options that support and encourage a more socially and economically diverse mix of students, workers, professionals, single people, young families and people downsizing. We all benefit when we support diversity, an essential element of a strong, sustainable and complete community.
- Set affordable housing goals and develop costed plans to achieve them. If we are going to take the need for affordable housing seriously, we have to take a systematic approach to determine the need for affordable and accessible housing in Ottawa, set that number as the goal, and develop a funded plan (including a base level of city funding) to tackle that challenge. Work with the community housing sector (local non-profit and co-op housing providers) in the delivery of affordable housing that is both cost-effective and leads to greater social outcomes.
- Establish a working group of councillors and staff to implement strategic solutions to 1) take advantage of the National Housing Strategy to help fund the construction and renovation of non-profit and co-op housing; 2) Develop a registry of surplus lands (including zoning, location, current use and any remediation needs), consider waiving development fees and charges, dedicate surplus public lands for public uses such as non-profit and co-op housing development, 3) prioritize mixed income affordable housing development near transit stations, 4) implement inclusionary zoning.
- Investigate 1/ establishing a community land trust and its potential impact as leverage towards the development of affordable housing and maintaining affordability over the long-term and 2/ new models of housing (e.g. co-operative, co-housing, seniors/student matching services, etc) as means of increasing affordable housing options.
- Identify solutions for affordable student housing, working with local universities, student groups, community associations, affordable housing advocates, developers and City staff.
Capital Ward is located in the very centre of Ottawa. It is close to many amenities and places of work. One of the features that makes the Ward an attractive place to live is the ease with which people can get to where they want to go. This is supported by the availability of public transit, cycling infrastructure, proximity to shops on Traditional Mainstreets and easy access to arterial roads and the Queensway. Enhancing alternative modes of transportation will provide additional benefits to the community by increasing mobility and safety for all residents.
- Advocate for enhanced OC Transpo services. While Capital Ward is relatively well-served in terms of public transportation, some service gaps exist, notably for Carleton University students during exam time, residents in Old Ottawa East and those along Riverside Drive.
- Ensure affordable bus and LRT rates to ensure access and increase ridership.
- Work with City staff to determine how best to establish and implement a safe Bank Street cycling corridor, including over Rideau River and Rideau Canal bridges.
- Develop, maintain and achieve funding for a list of cycling connectivity changes (e.g. new bike routes, dedicated and protected lanes) and smaller changes (e.g. curb cuts, signage) which can be made to improve connectivity and safety of cycling infrastructure.
- Prioritize sidewalk snow-plowing and snow removal in winter to improve winter-accessibility and winter cycling.
Building a complete community is about investing in the future. As someone who was able to achieve an education, career and community as a result of community investments such as affordable housing and whose children have benefitted from the local community centre and programs, I will be a strong advocate for a complete community in Capital Ward.