Building LeBreton: A glimpse into the NCC’s process at HSC’s Innovation Forum

Written by Cynthia Jacques

October 29, 2019

Housing Services Corporation (HSC) hosted an Innovation Forum at CCOC’s Beaver Barracks on October 24, 2019. The Forum was a full-day event, with presentations by various speakers sharing experiences and tools for enabling collaboration in the housing sector. Cahdco’s President and three Project Managers participated in the Forum.

One of the guest speakers at the Forum was Katie Paris, Director of the NCC’s Building LeBreton project. Katie’s presentation provided an overview of the Building LeBreton project process, and discussed opportunities for collaboration to provide affordable housing.

The LeBreton Flats redevelopment site is a 24 ha parcel in the heart of the City, close to light rail transit, Ottawa’s central business district, and a number of recreational opportunities.

Image credit: National Capital Commission - Commision de la capitale nationale

The NCC is working with O2 Planning + Design to develop a Master Concept Plan with a modern, cohesive vision for the LeBreton Flats redevelopment. Key elements of the Master Concept Plan will include identifying public spaces, amenities, mobility, and land use.

The guiding principles of the Plan are:

Credit: National Capital Commission - Commission de la capitale nationale

In June 2019, the NCC hosted a public consultation event to reinvigorate plans for the redevelopment of LeBreton Flats. Members of the Cahdco team participated in this consultation session. Katie noted that the objective of this summer consultation was to generate “big ideas” for the site. The key ideas resulting from this consultation relate to LeBreton Flats becoming a complete community with green space, a mix of residential and commercial spaces, and a variety of public spaces.

Many groups, including Cahdco and the LeBreton Flats Community Benefits Coalition, have been championing the NCC to think about an affordable housing plan for the LeBreton Flats redevelopment. The redevelopment of LeBreton Flats presents a prime opportunity for implementation of the priorities of the National Housing Strategy, with its central location close to transit and amenities, its potential for the creation of a diverse mixed-use and mixed-income community, and opportunities for innovative partnerships across sectors. As a federal Crown corporation, the NCC has a responsibility to address the goals of the NHS in the redevelopment of LeBreton Flats.

During the HSC Innovation Forum, several participants asked Katie whether the NCC will be setting targets for affordable housing as part of the LeBreton redevelopment. Katie noted that this is their intention, but they haven’t quite gotten to this point yet as targets will be based on development phasing and financial viability.

The NCC will host an Affordable Housing Stakeholder Consultation on October 30, 2019. Cahdco team members are actively participating in this consultation session.

While it is exciting that the NCC is reengaging in a discussion about the redevelopment of LeBreton Flats, it is clear that we are still several years away from new homes being built and decades away from realizing the vision of a reimagined mixed-use community. In the interim, the site could be an ideal candidate for temporary modular housing to contribute to addressing the current homelessness crisis in the City, as implemented in Vancouver. Perhaps something for the NCC to consider when preparing the development phasing plan for the LeBreton Flats Master Concept Plan.

Modular housing units can be assembled on site in less than four months, are adaptable to site constraints and user needs, and can be disassembled and moved to any other location as a site is ready for redevelopment. Additionally, the modular housing model applied in Vancouver does not require any excavation of the site, and can therefore provide a temporary housing solution even on contaminated lands. To learn more about Vancouver’s modular housing solution, check out this earlier Cahdco blog post by my colleague Hadiya: http://www.cahdco.org/temporary-modular-housing-to-address-the-affordability-crisis/

The first temporary modular housing project in the City of Vancouver (40 units).

The NCC is hosting their next Build LeBreton public consultation session on November 21, 2019 at which they will seek feedback on a draft Master Concept Plan for the site. The Master Concept Plan will include a development phasing plan and design guidelines, to ensure successful implementation of the Plan on the ground. This is your chance to get involved in providing feedback on the redevelopment of LeBreton Flats!

More information on the NCC’s Building LeBreton initiative can be found on their website: http://ncc-ccn.gc.ca/projects/building-lebreton

Cynthia Jacques

Cynthia Jacques

Project Manager

October 29, 2019