The planning committee approves the demolition of a six-unit building for parking

Ottawa’s planning committee has approved the demolition of a six-unit apartment building to make way for a 30-space parking lot.

The proposed demolition of the 70-year-old building at 142 Nepean Street was linked to plans for a 300-unit residential tower at 108 Nepean Street, which is being developed by the Taggart Group.

Lionel Njeukam, who has resided at 142 Nepean for two and a half years, was disappointed by the planning committee’s 8-4 vote on Thursday.

« The reality is people are being pushed out of downtown just because we’re building these very luxurious apartment buildings and tearing down the old ones, » Njeukam told CBC host Alan Neal. All in one day.

Njeukam is one of two tenants who accepted the developer’s offer for a comparable unit nearby because he doesn’t want to leave downtown where his daughter attends daycare. However, he is concerned about the larger implications of losing units with below-market rents.

“We must not forget the less fortunate who cannot afford expensive rent,” he said.

Compensation of tenants

Derek Howe, vice president of development at Taggart Group, told the committee the developer had made « extraordinary » efforts for current tenants.

Their offer included nearby comparable units at current rent for five years, moving expenses, a $15,000 lump sum for incidentals, and the first right of refusal for comparable units in the new tower.

« We’re going beyond anything we’ve done before and anything we’ve heard about in the city of Ottawa, » Howe said.

He bristled at the suggestion that the proposal would replace accommodation with surface parking. He instead called it the relocation of an existing lot with 50 spaces and a net reduction to 30, in support of a development that will have 25 affordable units.

The 27-story tower planned for 108 Nepean includes an underground garage with 166 parking spaces.

Howe also said the developer had considered leasing nearby parking lots as an alternative, but was told the owners of those lots were considering « some form of redevelopment. »

During the committee meeting, councilors Cathy Curry and Keith Egli pressed Howe to include a clause in the offer to protect tenants from their rent « bloat » after the initial term of the agreement.

Howe agreed to set future rent increases at the provincial cap on annual rent increases after the fifth year.

Concern over the loss of affordable housing

Somerset County Catherine McKenney, who represents the area and is a mayoral candidate, said the problem is not just the displacement of people who live at 142 Nepean Street.

« It’s about the loss, the permanent loss, of six units, » said McKenney, who doesn’t have voting rights on the committee.

“There are enough surface parking spaces within a two-block radius, but there are not enough dwellings.”

McKenney said they have no objections to the 108 Nepean Street tower proposal, but knocking down a building with affordable units shouldn’t be a compromise for this development.

« These apps should never have been linked, » they said.

« We need to consider what lies ahead based solely on the merits of: should we allow the demolition of a six-unit apartment building anywhere in the city, particularly downtown, for surface parking The answer to that is no. »

The proposal is presented to City Council on Wednesday, August 31.


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