On a Saturday morning this past June, Algonquin alumnus Aidan Friend awoke like any other day. However, during his morning routine, he was surprised to see a sign posted in front of his house stating that a developer is set to build a 42-unit apartment building on the lot in 2022. Friend was surprised, to say the least.
Friend is one of four roommates who rent the soon-to-be-demolished Winston Avenue home. All of them were shocked by the news that they would have to begin planning to move out of their residence, where they have been living for over two years.
“I didn’t think the sign was serious at first,” Friend said. “We called the landlord and some other people, and we were pretty shocked and upset that this was for real, and we were going to have to make unexpected plans for the future.”
According to Friend’s conversation with his landlord, the unnamed developer is planning to tear down the home and the one next to it to build the new apartment building.
Nick Renaud, a roommate of Friend’s, said that putting a massive apartment in the lot might not be a great idea. “This whole neighbourhood is just houses, no apartment buildings. It is totally going to break the aesthetic of the neighbourhood if you put a big ugly building on the street.”
The residence is near Westboro Beach on the Ottawa River. Westboro has a predominantly suburban style of housing that allows the area to maintain a neighbourhood aesthetic while also having a high density of shops and other businesses.
“It’s upsetting for sure. We like living here but hey that’s the game of renting in Ottawa. You’re bound to adapt to the changing city at some point, no hard feelings against anybody, just disappointed we have to leave,” said Friend.
Ottawa’s city council’s plan has recently stated the importance of “15-minute neighbourhoods,” where residents are only a short walk from essential services like drug stores, grocery stores and bus stations. The plan has pushed for zoning laws in the city to be revisited and allow for more high-density buildings to take the place of homes like Friend and Renaud’s.
The house next door is rented by Maddison Reynolds and three other roommates and is also slated to be demolished. Reynolds is a psychology student at Carleton University.
“It sucks, we have been here for a while and it is crazy to think that we have to leave. It took us a while to come to grips with it,” said Reynolds. “There are signs for buildings being demolished all over Westboro so it’s not just us but a lot of people are probably being relocated.”
The situation has put stress on the residents of Winston Avenue, but they remain optimistic they will be able to find other accommodation. “I just don’t want to move back into my mom’s place,” laughed Friend.