Habitat scales back Orléans project

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Ottawa Citizen

A Habitat for Humanity housing project in Orléans is poised to go ahead after it was scaled down and redesigned to accommodate the concerns of opponents, the housing charity and area councillor say.

Johannes Ziebarth, the president of Habitat’s Ottawa chapter, said Thursday that, after the new plan was unveiled at a community meeting Wednesday night, he believed most residents in the Notting Hill area were behind the project. Councillor Stephen Blais, who represents the area, agrees. He believes most people think the architectural and structural changes made to the proposed project on Nantes Street fit the character of the neighbourhood.

Habitat expects to complete the redesign in time for city planning approval next spring and for construction to begin in the summer.

The original project, which called for 11 townhouses, has been scaled down to nine: four duplexes and a bungalow. More importantly, the modernist look of the townhouses that riled neighbours has been changed to a more traditional look, in line with the single homes on the street.

“We heard the concerns of the community with regards to the amount of the units we were proposing and their architectural appeal, and we reduced the amount of homes and did architectural redesign so that it fit in with the community,” Ziebarth said. “When we first started in October, I felt like 80 per cent of the community had strong, strong concerns. I feel now like we have 75 per cent support of the community. They are very happy with the architectural redesign.”

Blais said the original design was just “too trendy” for some residents, who thought it made their neighbourhood look like Westboro. As well the number of driveways onto the main street was a major concern, and that went from eight to four. He acknowledged that some people were still unhappy, but believed most were content.

At a meeting in October, one resident expressed optimism over the coming design changes. “They really want to integrate well into the neighbourhood,” Roger Roy said.

Ziebarth said Thursday one of the lingering problems was a fear that the area was being invaded by low income families who would bring down home values. He noted that Habitat builds homes that were sold to working people, not low-income rentals. “Nowhere has Habitat housing brought down the value of homes,” he said.