The walk will follow city sidewalks.
Ten years ago, one company gained ownership of an entire neighbourhood of 4,000 people. Now, after purposeful negligence on the company's part, the neighbourhood is slated for "revitalization" through the destruction of family homes and the displacement of low-income people and new Canadians.
This is the story of Herongate, the area with the highest level of core housing need in Ottawa. In the middle of winter 2016, 80 townhomes were demolished for Phase 1 of the redevelopment to make way for "resort-style apartments." The houses and buildings in Herongate are known as some of the worst rentals in Ottawa. But it wasn't the people who live here who chose to neglect the area. Instead, they have continually built strong relationships and an atmosphere of friendship and solidarity.
How did one company end up owning an entire 22-hectare neighbourhood? What can we do to stop the displacement of the people who have made up this neighbourhood? This tour will showcase how the community has organized to build an alternative path forward, the Heatherington Land Trust, that will permanently protect affordable housing and to fight the destruction of a central neighbourhood that has been home to people from all walks of life for decades.
We will start at the Heron Road Community Centre, 1480 Heron Rd, and walk through the entire neighbourhood of Herongate. We'll see the different styles of housing and get a sense of the scale of the area which is controlled by one for-profit landlord. We'll visit the area just demolished where apartment complexes are under construction. We'll see the vacant homes along Heron Road and the next group of townhomes scheduled to be demolished. We'll see Herongate Mall, which has been demolished and turned into box stores, losing our local business in the process. Finally, we'll end at 1770 Heatherington Rd. currently slated for redevelopment, which holds a lot of potential for developing our neighbourhood in accordance with the needs of local residents.
Josh Hawley grew up in Heatherington-Herongate and is a facilitator with Heatherington Land Trust.
You can learn more about the Heatherington Land Trust here.