Posted November 24, 2020
Ottawa ACORN members and residents of Manor Village took their fight against the threatened demolition of their homes to make way for an LRT line to Barrhaven to Mayor Jim Watson’s own west-end home Tuesday morning.
“Jim Watson, come out,” they chanted to the dark windows of the mayor’s home near Carling and Woodroffe avenues at dawn in frigid temperatures. “Stop ‘demovictions.’ Meet with tenants, save our homes.”
Alison Trowbridge, who has lived in Manor Village since her seven-year-old son was a baby, was among the tenants appealing to Watson to forward another option to build the line.
“This is my life, this is my community, it’s my home, it’s everything,” the single mother said.
Her townhouse offers her a home she can afford in a city that declared an emergency on housing and homelessness earlier this year, although she’s still “maxed out” after paying her $1,250 rent.
She said it’s a supportive community as she raises a child with special needs in which “we help each other out, always.”
“We need them to understand that these aren’t just brick walls, these are people’s homes and people’s lives,” Trowbridge said. “We need everyone to understand we’re not against the LRT, we want the LRT just as much as the rest of the city, we just want the LRT not to go through our homes.
“We understand the city has other options. Use one of those options that won’t demovict us.”
City council will be asked to vote on the Barrhaven LRT study Wednesday after the transportation committee approved the recommended blueprint for the LRT extension between Algonquin College and Barrhaven town centre.
The pinch point affecting tenants of Manor Village and Cheryl Gardens is a 20-metre wide strip along Woodroffe Avenue and north of Hunt Club Road. More than 300 people now live in 120 rental units owned by two companies.
With no funding in place, construction of the 10-km line would be several years away but city hall wants to have the study completed in case the provincial and federal governments launch an infrastructure program.
Consultants who worked on the Barrhaven LRT route also considered a rail tunnel between Algonquin College and the Sportsplex but concluded an elevated guideway along Woodroffe between the college and Nepean Sportsplex was easier to build and optimal for station locations.
The option of building the LRT line on Woodroffe was also considered but it would require road reconstruction, reduce capacity for all transportation modes and introduce curves in the rail line.
The tenants are not satisfied by transportation committee’s decision to form a working group of city and community representatives to make recommendations by the end of 2021 on the issue of losing rental homes because of the LRT alignment.
Ottawa ACORN and the tenants say they’ve spent two months organizing rallies, marches, online actions and petitions, spoken at two city committees and had virtual meetings with councillors and city staff but are left with no choice but to go to Watson’s home “in an effort to save theirs.”
Amanda McMahon, a mother of four who has lived in Manor Village since she was eight years old, said it’s a tight-knit community where a neighbour watched her children while she rushed their grandmother to hospital.
“Our community is a family, not just a home,” she said. “If we have to leave our home, we are on the streets …
“Why does our home need to be destroyed for traffic? We know there are other options.”