Proposed housing development for the homeless in the Glebe Annex

289 Carling
The site at 289 Carling is proposed for a housing development for the chronically homeless. Photo: Sue Stefko

by Sue Stefko

As we embark upon a new year, the Glebe Annex Community Association (GACA) is closely following a proposed new housing development at its southern end. The City of Ottawa has applied to obtain 289 Carling Avenue, a small plot of land on the corner of Bell Street South and Carling Avenue, from the federal government as part of the Surplus Federal Real Property for Homelessness Initiative. This initiative makes surplus federal real properties available for projects to help prevent and reduce homelessness.

The current approach to fighting homelessness favoured by the federal government is called Housing First, which, according to the Economic and Social Development Canada website, “involves moving individuals who are chronically or episodically homeless from the streets or homeless shelters directly into permanent housing.” The website adds that, “Permanent housing is complemented by the provision of services to assist clients to sustain their housing and work towards recovery and reintegration into the community.”

Accordingly, should the City of Ottawa obtain this land, it plans to build permanent supportive housing on the site. The precise model is not yet set in stone, but the city’s initial proposal includes building a five- or six-storey building of somewhere between 40 and 55 bachelor apartments for the chronically homeless.

While there are no concrete timelines yet established, likely milestones include a transfer of the land to the city at some point in the next fiscal year, with a request for proposal (RFP) occurring in the fall of 2017 or potentially early in 2018 in which the City will ask developers to bid on the project. Construction is not expected to start until 2018.

GACA was first made aware of this development in October 2016 and immediately began to engage with Councillor Chernushenko as well as the City’s Housing Services Branch to obtain more information. The development was discussed at length during the GACA Annual General Meeting in November at which residents had the opportunity to voice their thoughts and in many cases strong concerns to Councillor Chernushenko.

So far, community reaction within the Glebe Annex has been mixed. Many have expressed concerns about possible impacts on community safety and property values. Many others identified the need for services to accommodate the new residents, as adding accommodation for 40 to 55 chronically homeless people to a community as small as GACA is a significant change. These concerned residents draw attention to the fact that amenities such as grocery stores, pharmacies and recreational facilities are non-existent within the neighbourhood. Without action in these areas, these residents feel that it will be difficult for clients to sustain their housing and work towards recovery.

Finally, others are approaching this development with a certain amount of optimism, and feel any new residents should be made to feel safe and welcome in the neighbourhood.

GACA plans to stay involved throughout the process, and will continue to keep our community informed. We also ask that residents continue to submit their thoughts and feedback to both Councillor Chernushenko and City of Ottawa Housing Services to make sure that community input is received and taken into consideration.

If you have any questions, or would like to be more closely involved in the process, please email us at

Sue Stefko is a member of the board of the Glebe Annex Community Association.


Natural Resource Canada’s Booth Street Complex, a 6.5-acre site with seven buildings bordered by Orangeville, Norman, Booth and Rochester streets, has been proposed for redevelopment. Illus: Canada Lands Company website
One of the historic buildings on the Booth Street site proposed for redevelopment is the Energy, Mines and Resources Complex Ore Dressing Laboratory (1932), designed by influential architect Werner Ernst Noffke.
Photo: David Perkins


NRCan Booth Street complex redevelopment coming soon

by Sue Stefko

For decades, there has been talk of redeveloping the buildings in the oldest part of Natural Resource Canada’s Booth Street Complex. On January 24, that process finally became official as the Canada Lands Company (CLC) hosted its first public information session on the project. The land is situated just south of the Queensway, bordered by Orangeville Street to the north, Norman Street to the south, and by Booth and Rochester streets to the east and west respectively. CLC acquired the 6.5-acre site, which includes seven buildings and 325 parking spots, in October 2015. Now CLC has a relatively ambitious schedule that includes an analysis of the best uses of the site and developing initial concepts to present in April. This will be followed by a community information session to review the proposed concepts in summer 2017 with a preferred option identified in the fall. If all goes smoothly, CLC plans to submit the plan to the City of Ottawa for approval in late 2017 or early 2018. So far, all that is known of CLC’s intentions is its plan to develop a mixed-use community consisting of both residential and commercial buildings.

This opportunity has been much anticipated, with many seeing it as Ottawa’s answer to Toronto’s Distillery District. Indeed, while the property is neither as large as its Toronto counterpart nor the buildings as old, this site offers a central location, ample space and beautiful, historic buildings. In fact, of the seven buildings currently on the site, five have federal heritage designations. The Energy, Mines and Resources Complex Ore Dressing Laboratory (1932) is perhaps the most well-known building on the site. It was designed by Werner Ernst Noffke, one of Ottawa’s most influential architects who designed approximately 200 buildings in Ottawa including the Central Post Office (1939) at the corner of Elgin and Sparks streets, the Blackburn Building (1913) on Sparks Street and Ogilvy’s department store (1907) at Rideau and Nicholas streets.

Keeping those historic buildings as part of honouring Ottawa’s heritage was in fact one of the most common comments that people placed on the “idea board” available at the information session where residents were invited to share their hopes for the project. Other common requests included a grocery store, small independent businesses, community green space and a place to welcome arts and culture.

CLC plans to keep the community apprised throughout the process by holding a number of public meetings and possibly arranging smaller consultations for interested stakeholders. CLC has created the website for anyone who would like to read about the project, provide feedback or suggestions on the redevelopment, or sign up to be kept informed of future consultations.

As with any development in our neighbourhood, the Glebe Annex Community Association will remain involved throughout the process by participating in the consultations and informing our members as further information becomes available.

Sue Stefko is a member of the board of the Glebe Annex Community Association.


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