Strengthen Tenant Protections: Deputation to Join Planning and Community & Protective Services Committee


I want to start by saying that we can end homelessness. It’s a systems issue, and it needs systems-level solutions. Maintaining the crisis is expensive, and solving it is the economical solution. 

Municipalities across Canada are seeing the effects of systems change, with Waterloo seeing a 60% reduction in family homelessness and Edmonton having a 43% reduction in overall homelessness as just a couple of examples. These communities don’t have more housing, more resources or fewer challenges. They have taken an approach that focuses on a common vision, real-time data and coordination across agencies and the municipality. In order to change our course in Ottawa, we need to work together to Stop the Loss, Create More, and Preserve the Quality of Affordable Housing.

Strong municipal policies to strengthen tenant protections against renovictions and demovictions are a powerful tool at the City’s disposal to stop the loss of existing affordable housing. These policies should strengthen enforcement of existing renoviction and demoviction by-laws and include the following conditions: 

  • The landlord must have received approval of all permits with the City in advance of issuing a notice to tenants of renoviction or demoviction
  • The City would be responsible for providing information to tenants on their legal right to compensation
  • Ensure tenants who are temporarily displaced during renovations or demolitions are rehoused at the same rate of rent, similar to the Toronto Demolition Control By-Law. 

Comments on the Staff Report: Review of tools to prohibit or prevent renovictions

The staff report takes some steps forward toward stopping the loss of existing affordable rental housing. The Alliance to End Homelessness Ottawa supports the recommendations to ask the Province to update the Residential Tenancies Act to protect existing tenants and affordable rental housing stock, and to direct staff to explore the adoption of a By-Law to prohibit without replacement the full or partial demolition or conversion of residential housing of six or more units without a permit. There is another tool we would recommend the City consider. 

1. Building Permit Questionnaire

In addition to the focus on demolition control, another key area within the City’s purview is Building Permits. Many renovictions will require the City to Issue a Building Permit. We would recommend that the approvals process include a questionnaire asking if the space to be renovated includes rental housing and if tenants will have to be relocated for the work to be completed. For example, is this rental residential space? Will tenants have to be relocated for work to be completed? What is the duration of the relocation? Will tenants be given first right of refusal at their existing rents? 

The answers to this questionnaire could trigger a requirement to properly inform tenants of their rights and who they can contact for legal advice. We would recommend that the City take on the responsibility of informing tenants, rather than the property owner / landlord. The Building permit has to be posted for the duration of the work, and here too, there could be a different format that adds information if it’s a rental residential space – including the answers provided in the questionnaire and City contact details for any questions from the tenants. This would provide a new level of transparency for tenants.

2. Housing Ombudsperson

Additionally, we would recommend that the City could play a key role in protecting the rights of tenants and prohibiting and preventing renovictions by assigning an independent Housing Ombudsperson to implement the right to housing in line with the federal commitment to housing as a human right. The Ombudsperson’s work would include reviewing submissions of violations of the right to housing, monitoring progress in meeting timelines and targets of the 10 Year Plan, and giving City Council recommendations to fulfill its human rights obligations. 

Altogether, the staff report takes some steps forward toward stopping the loss of affordable rental housing and addressing the housing and homelessness emergency. This is an important opportunity to make systems-level change toward ending homelessness, and I would encourage members of the Planning Committee and Community and Protective Services Committee to push for strong tenant protections and stop the loss of affordable rental housing. 

Thank you for this opportunity. 

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Deputation at Community Services Committee
Budget 2024

Hear our Executive Director Kaite Burkholder Harris share long-term solutions to Ottawa's housing crisis at the Community Services Committee.

Tuesday, Nov 28th - Community Services Committee - Budget 2024

 Good Morning Chair and Members of the Committee,

Over the course of the past year, as the City faces the full impact of a housing crisis out of control, I want to start by pointing to actions that are working. In June, this Council approved an Integrated Transition to Housing Plan that City staff built with community partners. The result in the short term is an enhanced rent subsidy with greater flexibility, enabling people who have been stuck in homelessness to rapidly move out of the PDC’s. By allocating resources towards flexible subsidies like this, we enable people to secure stable housing.

Ending Homelessness Starts With Non-Profit Housing

By: Sophia Kelly-Langer

Take a moment to picture a person experiencing a housing crisis. What does it look like? For some, it looks like sitting out in the cold, hoping that the shelter is not full, so they can actually get in that night. For others, it looks like a family struggling to make the rent after a lay-off. It may look like a senior on a fixed income unable to downsize in their neighbourhood because there are no affordable options.


In the most extreme cases, a housing crisis looks like people living in encampments, some directly in front of Parliament Hill. These have become the only shelter options for some, including children and youth under bridges. The jarring contrast of the most vulnerable going without the basic need of housing just feet away from our country’s decision-makers is not lost on the people living in an encampment.

Increase Investment in Non-Profit Housing: Deputation to the Planning & Housing Committee, February 15th 2023

The fallout from the housing crisis means that as a city, we spend $30 million on emergency shelter costs every year. People experiencing homelessness engaging with police costs roughly $25M every year in Ottawa. We spend over $15 million a year on keeping people in hotels, because there is not enough affordable housing. Ending the housing crisis in our city means that we invest at least as much in solutions, as we do managing the crisis.

In order to make our city affordable, the smartest capital investment we can make is in non-profit housing.

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  • LC
    Leah Cogan
    published this page in Blog 2022-06-17 12:16:44 -0400

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