Making sure that the city’s LRT line will truly serve everyone was a major concern Friday as experts, activists and city staff got together for a summit on equity.
Trevor Haché, vice president of the Healthy Transportation Coalition, who organized the summit at City Hall on Friday, said as the LRT system opens up, the city has to pay attention to the development around the new stations.
He worried about the danger that the new stations will increase property prices and make it hard for people to live close.
“Low-income people are going to have to move further away and new developments are going to be more expensive,” he said.
Haché said that many at the summit shared that concern, and he’s worried that the areas around the stations will swiftly gentrify making it harder for people to live there.
“The concern is that those places aren’t going to be affordable places to live.”
The first stage of the Confederation Line with 13 stations is expected to open next year and some neighbourhoods around those stations have already seen increase in home prices.
Haché said the city has to think about that problem now and look for solutions.
“There is a lot of talk about that and a general feeling that the city needs to do more about that and plan for that reality.”
Those solutions could include more social housing built near the stations or requiring developers to build affordable housing as part of their projects.
Haché said Ottawa hasn’t reached the housing affordability problem that cities like Toronto and Vancouver have, but when a home is out of reach it doesn’t really matter by how much.
“Whether you can’t afford a $400,000 place or a $1 million place, both are totally unattainable.”
He said working on this issue is going to mean residents keep a close eye on council as it approves nearby projects.
“It’s going to be a challenge for the community to get a majority of council onside, so we’re going to have to work hard at doing that.”
This story originally appeared in Metro Ottawa.