There is a misconception that queer issues are not on the ballot, especially for a municipal election. In reality, our City Council has immense power and influence over how the day to day lives of Ottawa residents. Policy decisions and funding priorities made by councils and school boards that impact one marginalized community impact us all. Whether you’re voting age or know people who are, this information hub can help you understand the local context for municipal issues that acutely impact 2SLGBTQIA+ lives in Ottawa.
Over 50% of respondents to CCGSD’s LGBTQ2+ Action Plan Survey identified housing and homelessness related policy as a top priority in their community. Knowing that 25-40% of the 150,000 young people experiencing homelessness in Canada identify as 2SLGBTQIA+ themselves, it is unsurprising that addressing the housing crisis is so important to queer residents. This is especially considerable for Ottawa as a 2013 study reported that LGBTQ+ youth represented 50% of the houseless youth in the city. In 2018, a 24h blitz survey showed that 21% of homeless youth identify as LGBTQ+. It is abundantly clear that housing is a queer issue and in Ottawa, the current municipal government has greatly influenced the development and destruction of affordable housing.
The current City of Council officially declared a housing emergency in 2020. Yet months later, passed a motion that would evict families from affordable housing for LRT line 3 and voted down a motion that would have allotted an additional $13.2M in the 2021 budget to address the mounting crisis. The City was also complacent in the Herongate demo-viction project, one of the largest mass evictions in Canadian history, for the 4 years leading up to this crisis declaration. Moreover, during this time Council-appointed members of the Ottawa Police Service Board approved the use of these recently ethnically cleansed homes for policing drills, including bombings. A recent report from ACORN shows there are over 20 projects across the city that threaten the homes of over 5 500 residents. Another housing crisis related issue seen within our city is the acute lack of access to public washrooms, especially in winter months and overnight.
“The Alliance to End Homelessness Ottawa supports the Canadian Centre for Gender and Sexual Diversity’s Vote Local, Vote Queen campaign. Equipping voters to better understand how their vote can prevent, reduce and end housing precarity and homelessness experienced by members of the 2SLGBTQIA+ community is also a focus of the Starts With Home campaign. By uniting our voices, and sharing knowledge and resources, we can ensure Ottawa remains a safe and affordable place for everyone. To stay up-to-date on the housing commitments of each candidate in your ward, visit startswithhome.ca/candidates.”
In 2022 a Council committee did pass a vacant unit tax of 1%, however it does not meet community standards and will not begin billing until 2023 or three years after the emergency declaration. There are also bylaws council has not challenged that make our city hostile for housing. For instance, group home by-laws unjustly restrict these builds from urban centres by prohibiting them from being within 300m of one another; in rural areas this jumps to 500m. These discriminatory by-laws not only reduce housing options for some disabled residents but they also alienate those who rely on them from high density areas that often have better access to public transit and other necessary social services. In the same vein shelters, of which Ottawa is lacking for queer focused options, are unable to be within 500m within each other’s property lines. This is a crucial emergency housing issue as shelters are overflowing and the City is spending thousands of dollars for short-term solutions. Lastly, under the guise of accessibility, the City approved hostile public bench requirements (peep PDF page 46) that restrict residents from laying down; which in 2009 was far more transparent in reasoning (peep page 32.) Knowing what we know now, it is time to question if our representation on Council is responding with enough urgency for the 12 000 families currently on the waitlist for affordable housing or if their political will lies in the pockets of housing and car dealership developers.
Demands for our municipal candidates:
1. Adopt a housing first model and drastically increase affordable housing options as outlined by Ottawa youth with lived experience.
2. Do not accept donations connected to developer corporations.
5. Allot more money to social and housing infrastructure in the city to reduce the local waitlist for affordable housing.
5. Repeal by-laws that resist housing density and increase hostility to the housing insecure such as group home, shelter, and defensive public structures.
People Over Profit.
While mass evications displace migrant families, group homes are alienated from core city services, and transphobic and homophobic family homes push queer youth to the streets, our municipal government has prioritized corporate housing interests over the needs of their residents.
“So the people that are being displaced are Somalis, Arabs, there’s some Nepalis here but majority all immigrants and majority new immigrants. Is this how we welcome people to Canada? Telling them that they need to be out of their home?“
Ottawa Municipal Election is in...