Statement on the Creation of a Safe Home for Inuit Women and Children

Apr 25, 2024 | News Updates

As you may know, the City of Ottawa has declared a housing emergency and the current City Council set housing as one of four Strategic initiatives to advance this term.  

Investing in homes and services that affect the lives of all residents, including those most in need, is a key priority for the City, this includes leveraging City lands and creating new opportunities with partners. The parcel of land on Forestglade Crescent was identified as part of this initiative and city staff brought forward a recommendation to transfer this land to the Ottawa Aboriginal Coalition to serve an acute housing need- a safe home for Inuit Women and Children who have experienced domestic violence.   

I was advised of the staff recommendation and immediately engaged the local Community Association. The process of land transfers are not subject to a separate community consultation, however, I recognized that there would be an interest in the proposal and wanted local residents to have an opportunity to learn more.

I, along with members of the community, circulated approximately 350 flyers in the area around the property to invite residents to attend an information session – as mentioned there is no city requirement for this to be done. This was a step that I took to be as transparent as possible about what is being proposed.   

With any potential development in a community there are questions, concerns, and issues that need to be addressed as part of the process. I want to thank City staff and the Ottawa Aboriginal Coalition for attending the meeting and for their efforts to engage with the community. It was unfortunate and disheartening that some residents in attendance did not come to engage constructively and made it difficult to share information to those who did. I also want to acknowledge  that the overt racist comments that were shared have no place in our community and I unequivocally denounce those ideologies. The racist views and comments expressed are not reflective of the broader community’s thoughts and values, nor will they be accepted or tolerated within our office.  

I appreciate that the community has additional questions, many which relate to specific site and planning processes. Currently, the proposal is related only to the transfer of land from the city of Ottawa to the Ottawa Aboriginal Coalition. As such, an official planning application has not been submitted, which would address many of the outstanding questions. However, the Ottawa Aboriginal Coalition has indicated that the built form would be no more than three stories, designed to integrate into the existing neighbourhood and provide a safe home for Inuit women and children. If the land transfer is successful, I will work on behalf of the community throughout the planning process to address any remaining concerns.

As the Councillor for Gloucester-Southgate Ward and the Council Liaison for the Anishinabe Algonquin Nation Civic Cultural Protocol and Implementation Plan, I am fully committed to the City’s reconciliation efforts with Indigenous Peoples which includes building trust, relationships, and awareness through concrete actions.  Advancing safe homes for Inuit women and children is part of that commitment and should be welcomed.

 The staff recommendation to transfer the land was passed unanimously at the Finance and Corporate Services Committee meeting on May 7th. This item will now move to Council on Wednesday, May 15th for final approval for the transfer of land. 

 Future updates on this file will be shared on my website at www.gloucestersouthgate.com.