JustChange is thrilled to announce the winner of its November 2018 grant: People’s Vision for Herongate

Herongate is one of Ottawa’s most diverse, yet lowest income neighbourhoods. Located in south Ottawa, between the Heron-Walkley junction to the east, Albion to the west, and Heatherington to the south, the area’s rate of core housing need (a metric of affordability, suitability and adequacy) is over triple the city’s average.

Almost 70% of the land in Herongate is in the hands of private, for-profit entities, with one landlord in particular single-handedly controlling 23% of all the land in the neighbourhood. The only non-profit land is pockets of social housing, and residents have very little control over their urban future. Speculation has turned the land in Herongate into a valuable commodity, and tenants are feeling the burn. With massive displacement currently underway, it has become clear that the for-profit monopolization of Herongate has not benefitted the residents—it has only served to deepen the pockets of corporations.

Tenants are being evicted en masse and rents are increasing as demand for housing increases, a direct result of the large-scale changes foisted on Herongate. The critical issue is whether any plan to redevelop the neighbourhood will only exacerbate the problems and result in further displacement of residents.

People’s Vision for Herongate aims to tap into residents’ local knowledge and lifetimes of lived experience to create a permanent platform for a truly local vision.

This group of committed local residents told JustChange they will aim to develop an intensive program of participatory planning, building off the momentum of the City of Ottawa’s Building Better Revitalized Neighbourhoods (BBRN) consultation process from summer 2017. They will work with urbz, an experimental urban collective based in Geneva with over 10 years of international participatory planning experience. This will be the first project of its kind in Ottawa.

One concept for realizing their project, which they hope to make a reality, is to establish a semi-permanent presence in the neighbourhood near a large vacant lot. Local residents would be able to engage with each other during regularly-held hours. Workshops will be held to encourage end-user control and participation in the planning, design and construction phases of development. In the end, the vision is for the development of a master plan for the site and to lay the foundation for Ottawa’s first urban land trust.

With the JustChange grant, People’s Vision for Herongate will use the funding to get off the ground. Become a non-profit, financing the community office, engaging urbz, and developing printed materials. This is the first grant they have received, so while it will not complete their journey, we do hope it will set them on the right path.

Please join us in support of People’s Vision for Herongate at JustDrinks from 5-7pm on November 7th at Happy Goat on Laurel.