Beaver Barracks, Ontario

Location: Ottawa, Ontario

Completed: 2012

Number and type of affordable/social housing dwellings: Beaver Barracks is a large affordable and environmentally sustainable housing development located in downtown Ottawa, on a brownfield site. The development consists of 254 dwellings, including apartment buildings, studio flats and town houses.

It was commissioned in 2007 to the Centretown Citizens Ottawa Corporation (CCOC) by the City of Ottawa through the Action Ottawa program – the City’s primary program for increasing the supply of low-income affordable housing in Ottawa.

Area of housing continuum: Community housing; affordable rentals

Client group served: Units range in size from studio flats to three bedrooms, for single persons and families, including older persons and those with accessibility problems. There is also ground floor commercial space in two buildings and meeting space for community groups.

Fifteen per cent of all the apartments are reserved for tenants who benefit from additional daily living support, and CCOC partners with several organisations to deliver that support, including to tenants with intellectual and physical disabilities, mental illness, or who have recently experienced homelessness. At Beaver Barracks there are 25 wheelchair-accessible units, and over 90 per cent of remaining units as well as all building amenity spaces are ‘visitable’ to people in a wheelchair.

Housing costs: The Beaver Barracks, developed by the Citizen employs an innovative mixed income model. 45 per cent of tenants will pay ‘rent geared to income’ (30 per cent of their gross household income); 15 per cent of tenants will pay ‘below market rent’ (70 per cent of the full rent) and 40 per cent of tenants will pay no more than the average market rent for the neighbourhood.

Project value: The total capital budget for the development of Beaver Barracks was US $64 million. CCOC used a combination of public and private financing, including CCOC equity (three per cent), government grants (35 per cent) and mortgage financing (62 per cent). Over 70 per cent of Beaver Barracks revenue comes from rent, either by tenants (42 per cent) or rent subsidies paid through the City (30 per cent). The remainder comes from a small mortgage subsidy from the Province of Ontario (16 per cent) and fees from various services (12 per cent).

Over 80 per cent of CCOC’s total operating revenue in its full portfolio comes from rent (either paid by the tenants themselves or with state assistance,) 13 per cent from state operating subsidies, with the remainder coming from miscellaneous revenue from parking, laundry and commercial rent.

How it was delivered: The initial work relied upon grants being available from Government. However, an independent audit by the City of Ottawa found that Beaver Barracks may begin to generate a modest surplus after the first five to ten years of operations.

Although the project was not conceived as one of community economic development, having an affordable home helps residents to live within their means and opens doors to education, employment and training.

Other information: Built to a high environmental standard, the development includes geothermal heating and cooling, a green roof, tenant-run gardens and a high performance building envelope, including triple glazed windows. Beaver Barracks is also wheelchair accessible and smoke free, with residents committing through their lease not to smoke in their apartments or on the property. Responsible waste diversion (recycling and organics) is encouraged by not providing rubbish chutes and having all waste sorted in a common room. Tenants are actively involved and sign a Green Commitment Pledge to reduce their environmental impact through lifestyle and consumer choices (although these green commitments are not legally binding).

Awards: The development was one of ten finalists in the World Habitat Awards in 2013;

Links:  www.worldhabitatawards.org/winners-and-finalists/project-details.cfm?lang=00&theProjectID=9E55F401-15C5-F4C0-996EC79CB668C53A

cagbcottawa.ca/cagbcorc/index.php/read/green-buildings-in-ottawa/50-beaver-barracks-and-sustainable-community-development-site-tour

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