Free Lunch versus Free Market: A Look at City of Ottawa Financial Incentives to Private Industry

I read a recent article written by Joanne Chianello, a journalist at CBC Ottawa, about the City of Ottawa’s Brownfield’s policy. This policy, which was approved by City Council in 2007, provides grants to developers to encourage the redevelopment of contaminated lands. Her article points out that City Council has approved over $70 million in brownfields grant since 2007. The article further questioned the public benefits resulting from such grants and the absence of any assessment to see if the policy was actually stimulating investment which would not otherwise occur. Continue reading

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Living Together: Do Social Housing Projects Affect The Condominium Real Estate Market In Ottawa’s Downtown Neighbourhoods?

The general aim of this posting is to examine if proximity to social housing projects located in the inner city neighbourhoods of Ottawa comprised of Centretown, Sandy Hill and Lowertown has a potential negative market impact on downtown condominium projects. My analysis here is similar to the objective of my previous blog on Thorncliffe Village where I examined whether or not the close proximity of ownership townhomes to social housing had a negative impact on their resale market performance.

The housing market in Ottawa’s inner city neighbourhoods, as in other large Canadian cities, has experienced quite dramatic changes in terms of its demographics and real estate development trends in recent years. Continue reading

Return to Thorncliffe Village: Market Performance of Ownership Townhomes in a Mixed Affordable Residential Community

Back in the 1990s, when I was the Director of Housing with the City of Ottawa, I was involved in an innovative, affordable residential development named Thorncliffe Village. The project was an exciting, public-private partnership long before P3s became in vogue in the government lexicon.

Thorncliffe Village was a joint, residential development project started in 1990 between Domicile Developments Inc., a respected Ottawa homebuilder specializing in high quality, infill, residential developments and the City of Ottawa Non-Profit Housing Corporation, which went by the marketing name of City Living and is known today as Ottawa Community Housing. The project was built on 6 hectares (15 acres) at the intersection of Montreal Road and Burma Road in the City’s east end near the National Research Council and the then CFB Rockcliffe. The site also included an abandoned quarry pit. Continue reading

Understanding Affordability Challenges of Homeowners

RBC HeadlineWhen the RBC Economics division released its “Housing Trends and Affordability” report for the year 2013 and headlined that homeownership was slightly less affordable in Canada at the end of 2013, it got me thinking about the implications of this report on the housing sector in major cities in Canada but especially in Ottawa. Housing affordability in the RBC context is about consumers or households ability to afford market or unsubsidized housing. Affordability therefore is not to be confused with social or subsidized housing . Continue reading