Originally published in Centretown Buzz and Spacing Ottawa
by Jeff Salmon
May 22, 2015
It took a while to come but spring is officially here, which also means construction season is already well underway. This time of year is marked by the sounds of new construction starting, whether it is the banging of hammers from the framing crew working on a house down the street, or the shudder from a nearby blast as crews excavate for a new condo.
New development and redevelopment play a transformative role in the evolution of a city and its neighbourhoods. The density and type of housing constructed can complement the existing housing stock in the area or, in some cases, it can alter the demographics of the neighbourhood.
With all new construction, especially condos, it is important to consider the impact that these buildings will have on their surrounding neighbourhoods and communities. One of the often overlooked aspects of development is affordability and the role that it plays in shaping the community.
Affordable housing by the numbers
First and foremost, it is important to understand what it means to be affordable. Ottawa’s Official Plan defines affordable as “either ownership or rental, for which a low or moderate income household pays no more than 30% of its gross income.”
With this in mind, the City has set out targets as part of the Official Plan to encourage the production of affordable housing in new residential development and redevelopment. They have been targeting 25 percent of all new rental housing to be affordable to households up to the 30th income percentile.
Several Community Design Plans have noted that that means a monthly rent of $1,100 (or $13,200 annually). In other words, a household with an annual income of almost $44,000 would fit in this category.
The City also has a target of 25 percent of all new ownership housing to be affordable to households up to the 40th income percentile which equates to a price of $207,800.
It is also worth noting that approximately seven percent of the targeted 25 percent is to be designated as “social housing” and thus affordable to households at or below the 20th income percentile, that is, earning $31,500 or less.
These targets exceed the requirements of many other cities, including Toronto, and demonstrate a commitment to developing Ottawa into an inclusive and liveable city.