Builder accelerates evictions in Ottawa's Heron Gate neighbourhood as rebuild gathers pace

May 11, 2018
Article Source
The Globe and Mail

One of Ottawa's largest neighbourhoods is preparing for modernization, as are many across the city. But with redevelopment comes relocation.

On Monday, Timbercreek Asset Management told 105 residents of the Heron Gate community, about 15 minutes from Ottawa's downtown core, they must move by Sept. 30.

It's the second time in three years Timbercreek has relocated tenants in the neighbourhood, as the Toronto-based company looks to refashion the 40-acre site that is now home to 1,665 residents.

"This was a very, very difficult decision to make," says John Loubser, the director of operations at Timbercreek. "We're starting much sooner than we had hoped and much sooner than [the tenants] expect."

The accelerated pace, Timbercreek says, is due to a finding that 25 per cent of the 150 homes in the northeast quadrant - wood framed low rises - have been deemed unfit for habitation.

It's also reflective of a more rapid pace of change in the city as Ottawa quickly expands. A new light-rail transit system is soon to come on stream and many neighbourhoods are seeing a wave of upgrades and renovation.

Timbercreek bought the property, which includes five concrete high-rise structures, from Minto Group in 2012-2013 and says it has invested $44-million. The 1,000 rental apartments in those towers account for more than 60 per cent of the community's current population.

The garden homes that will be torn down are connected at the roof line and share a sewage system, so the company says it can'r renovate one without doing them all.

"They're not standalone, unfortunately," said Mr. Loubser. "Looking at that, we had a difficult decision to make. If we wanted to accommodate (the tenants), we needed to act now. And that's what we've decided to do."

Timbercreek says it will incorporate lessons learned from its last major relocation in 2015. Then, a concrete parking garage had deteriorated and was deemed unfit to support the 86 garden homes built on top of the concrete slab.

The company says it will provide more support to tenants this time around, and has held several community information sessions.

Read more: Builder accelerates evictions in Ottawa's Heron Gate neighbourhood as rebuild gathers pace