Ottawa City Committee Approves $18 Million Purchase for Supportive Housing Project


The city committee of Ottawa has resoundingly supported a proposal to acquire a former Catholic residence and associated seminary for over $18 million. The intention is to potentially transform this establishment into a facility that provides supportive housing.

The transaction was approved on a Tuesday afternoon by councillors belonging to the finance and corporate services committee. They agreed to the proposition initially recommended by staff members to procure the Diocesan Centre sited at 1245 Kilborn Place. The property consists of a three-storey building nested within an 8.7-acre plot of land.

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Alta Vista Ward councillor, Marty Carr, informed that the city’s interest in this particular land was piqued by the pre-existing building, which aligns perfectly with their vision of a hub that accommodates supportive housing needs.

Currently, the Archdiocese of Ottawa-Cornwall holds ownership of the property. It houses structures that have remained unoccupied since December 2020. Negotiations for purchasing the premises were initiated by the city in May, tentatively settling on a $18.5 million deal.

The reason behind this procurement, according to city staff, is the escalating demand for supportive housing. As of June 1, a total of 369 individuals were registered on the waiting list to avail this facility.

Ottawa’s Mayor, Mark Sutcliffe, opined on the city’s objective, stating, “Our ultimate goal is to eradicate chronic homelessness. Constructing more supportive housing units is the definite route to achieving that goal. This project offers us a stepping stone on this path.”

The Alliance to End Homelessness Ottawa’s Executive Director, Katie Berkholder Harris, echoed similar sentiments. She stressed the need for a stable environment where individuals without a home can thrive.

However, the decision drew mixed reactions from community members. Local resident Angelo Scaffidi urged the committee to postpone the decision to allow residents more time for comprehending the details. Kishanth Jeyamoorthy, however, openly advocated for the resolution, lamenting the negative discourse surrounding affordable housing on digital platforms.

Following the completion of the property purchase, city staff will coordinate with the ward councillor and community affiliates on charting out a plan for community consultation and development of the site. In preparation, the city’s housing services department has launched a building condition audit. The evaluation will understand the current condition of the building, outline the necessary steps, and estimate the financial implications of impending improvements. It will also prioritize short and long-term repairs and renovations, as specified in the report.

Commenting on future plans, Carr stated, “There will be several consultations concerning future use of the site over the next few years. This multi-year project is just in its preliminary stages.”