Posted June 7, 2021
The Herongate ACORN Tenant Union held an amazing Rally + Demoviction Tour, with 65 people rallying in the 35 degree heat and humidity on Saturday!
Planning Committee and City Council are set to hear Hazelview’s (formerly Timbercreek) Official Plan Amendment (OPA) application in July, which would allow Hazelview to continue to redevelop and gentrify the low income/working class neighbourhood of Herongate.
After two previous waves of mass-demovictions, Timbercreek/Hazelview made a verbal commitment not to cause any more displacement in Herongate. In 2019, the REIT (Real Estate Investment Trust) said they would commit to providing rental replacement within the neighbourhood of the same rent and number of bedrooms for anyone who would be forced to move due to future redevelopment.
Now here we are 2 years later, approaching a vote at City Council, with no written guarantee of no-displacement attached to the OPA. Hazleview says that there is plenty of time to work out the details of this legally binding agreement called the “social contract”, after the city approves their OPA application.
It seems that when Timbercreek rebranded themselves as Hazelview, they also cleaned house and hired an entirely new corporate team, because they seemed to think that this would be totally fine with the Herongate ACORN tenant Union?!?
ACORN members came out in droves to make their demands clear:
The City of Ottawa must not approve the OPA unless there is a legally binding agreement attached that ensures:
- Anyone who will be displacemed from their home must be given a new unit within the neighbourhood at the same rent and number of bedrooms that they have now
- 2015/2018 mass-evicted tenants who wish to return must be given a new unit within the neighbourhood at the same rent and number of bedrooms that they had when they were evicted
- ACORN is calling for 25-30% affordable housing in any redevelopment in Herongate with and emphasis on deep affordability (affordable for people on ODSP or other forms of social assistance)
- Should be affordable in perpetuity
- New affordable units must be subject to rent control!
Improved upkeep and maintenance of existing buildings and units
- Timbercreek/Hazelview must address all chronic disrepair, pests, mould, and any other maintenance issues in existing units and buildings before they be allowed to develop any more in Herongate
- Must undergo annual inspections by the City to ensure units are in a good state of repair
Members Mavis Finnamore and Love Afinotan led the action by leading members and press (Ottawa Citizen, CBC, CTV, Radio-Canada, Ottawa Sun) through the 2019 demoviction site, stopping at markers indicating the names and locations of previously demovicted Herongate ACORN members.
At each stop we heard from members and allies, including the Somali Centre for Family Serves, the Alta Vista Community Association, MPP Joel Harden and City Councilor Rawlson King. (Herongate City Councillor Jean Cloutier also attended which members felt showed the power of their organization!)
At the end of the tour, Mavis and Love led the 60 member march down Heron Road, bellowing out chants and waving signs and flags until they finished back where they started.
Now members are gearing up for Planning Committee on July 8th, where they will do deputations and continue to put pressure on City Council.
To Be Continued…
CTV News Ottawa: Heron Gate residents protest displacement
ICI Radio-Canada: Un contrat social qui se fait attendre par des résidents d'Heron Gate