Opportunity presents itself
In April 2008, Wigwamen Incorporated was made aware of an opportunity to develop an affordable housing project in the City of Ottawa. Aware of the desperate need for affordable housing throughout the Province, including our capital city, it was agreed to pursue that opportunity. It’s safe to say that when it made that decision, no one dreamt that it would take over four years to break ground on the project.
Wigwamen quickly assembled a strong development team, including Development Consultant SHS Inc. one of the foremost development consulting firms in Ontario, whose Principals have managed the development of more than 70 affordable housing projects in all corners of Ontario since 1982, and James Colizza Architect (later Colizza Bruni) whose Principal, James Colizza, had been the lead Architect in a number of non-profit and co-operative housing projects in the Ottawa area.
Preliminaries get underway
In July 2008, Wigwamen made an application to the City of Ottawa, proposing the construction of a 41 unit affordable housing project in Orleans. The four-story apartment project would have one and two bedroom units, with rents averaging approximately 80% of the average market rent for the area. Wigwamen was later successful in obtaining approval to have 20 of those 41 units rent-supplemented, which will permit families and individuals with lower incomes to better afford the newly constructed apartments.
In the middle of August, 2008, Wigwamen was advised that its project had been approved in principle, and headed down the long and winding road to the start of construction in 2012. A Contribution Agreement with the Province of Ontario was executed by the end of December, 2008; boundary and topographical surveys were prepared; soil tests undertaken; Architectural drawings and specifications were prepared by the Project Architect; noise, traffic, and parking studies were conducted; an appraisal of the value of the land was performed; and a lender and a quantity surveyor were selected. Planning issues related to Wigwamen’s proposed project also had to be dealt with, including a request for minor planning variances which was approved by the Committee of Adjustment in early 2009.
Progress slows — temporarily
Delays were encountered, related to the fact that the project was part of a public-private partnership between the City of Ottawa and a private developer for the redevelopment of a much larger parcel of land, which required a multitude of planning approvals.
In September 2011, optimistic that the plan of subdivision would be finalized, Wigwamen pre-qualified seven mid-sized construction companies and went out to tender for the construction of the building.
Tenders were opened on November 17th, with the low bidder being Robert J. Bourgon Associates Ltd., a firm with, among other things, success in building smaller non-profit housing projects.
Construction in progress!
With issues related to the larger public-private partnership development finally resolved, in August, 2012, Wigwamen was able to purchase the land and above-grade construction proceeded. Please see our photo galleries to the left to view progress of the build, from start to present.
Though an Aboriginal housing provider, Wigwamen has a record of operating apartment projects which include families and individuals from a wide variety of backgrounds. Its award-winning 92 unit affordable housing project, Wigwamen Waabnong, for instance, houses families and individuals from not only the Aboriginal community, but many, many other communities as well.
The 41 unit “Place Perrault” (named after a local pioneer family from the Orleans area) will be no different, with some of the 20 units expected to be occupied by members of the Aboriginal community, and the remainder by the community at large.
There are currently over 10,000 households on the waiting list for affordable housing in Ottawa.
With construction finally under way, we’re excited about being able to foresee the opening of our new affordable housing project in the summer of 2013, and helping to ensure that needy individuals and families have access to decent, affordable shelter. Tenants of Place Perrault will also have the opportunity to participate in Wigwamen’s ongoing programs, such as the annual Scholarship Awards, and the Book of the Month Club for children 13 years and under.
And when this project is complete, Wigwamen looks forward to continuing to work in Ottawa to help address the critical need for non-profit housing!