Statement from Heatherington Land Trust on City of Ottawa’s Building Better Revitalized Neighbourhoods Open-House
Heatherington Land Trust wishes to thank the City of Ottawa for organizing the January 18, 2018 public open-house on their concept drawings for the 3.2 hectare vacant lot at 1770 Heatherington Rd. The city has presented a positive vision of affordable housing, space for non-profits, public roads and a park. We would especially like to thank all the residents who took valuable time out of their day to show that the neighbourhood will have a say in its own future.
Heatherington Land Trust was there for the entire 4 ½ hour duration of the open-house. We communicated directly with residents in the neighbourhood to share our concept of a community land trust and why this would be beneficial for Heatherington, the broader community and even the city on the whole. The response was very positive and residents clearly want to organize for community control of the planning process and to determine their collective future. It was also great to see the Carleton University geography class FYSM 1107 Social Justice and the City was there to observe both the municipal consultation process and grassroots community organizing in action.
We are pleased to know the city does in fact have a plan for more affordable housing. According to the city-led Building Better Revitalized Neighbourhoods study, of all the amenities our neighbourhood needs, affordable housing is the top choice for 11% of Heatherington residents. Imagine if people were presented with an alternative to regular social housing–this number might be even higher! With the Heatherington Land Trust, residents will come together to decide what their housing will look like, form a solidarity economy and own the land collectively for the benefit of everybody, in particular those of us who are low-income.
Our vision includes opening our doors to our neighbours throughout Herongate, Ledbury and beyond who face the same day-to-day struggles as us. Our neighbourhoods are not far from the city core and in the coming years will face strong market pressures as more private developers wish to cash in. As we know not just from Ottawa but from cities around the world, this will result in the displacement of long-time residents and well-established communities. By establishing a land trust now, we will preemptively stop gentrification in its tracks.
We remain skeptical about the idea of more private homeownership in our neighbourhood. During the open-house, we were treated with contempt by the head of a local condo board and blamed for the dropping of their condo values. In fact, decades of low investment by all levels of government and disregard from our more economically-advantaged neighbours have affected property values. We condemn this attitude by entitled homeowners who have no right to blame a bad purchase decision on the low-income people who have lived in the neighbourhood for decades.
Heatherington Land Trust will work hard in the upcoming months to build a solid vision for how we can come together to provide space for social services, community organizing, greenspace and perpetual affordable housing. Together we can determine our future!