By Meg McCallum
Manager, Membership and Communications
Centretown Citizens Ottawa Corporation
This fall, downtown Ottawa will see the opening of 94 more affordable green rental apartments. Beaver Barracks is located in Centretown, next to the YM/YWCA and the Canadian Museum of Nature, and close to schools, shops and services. Phase One opened in the winter of 2010 with 160 units in two buildings at 464 Metcalfe and 160 Argyle. Phase Two (a seven-storey building at 111 Catherine and 18 stacked townhouses at 100–200 Victory Gardens Private) will bring the site total to 254 new residences.
More than a landlord
Beaver Barracks was developed by the Centretown Citizens Ottawa Corporation (CCOC), a non-profit landlord that owns and operates over 50 properties across downtown Ottawa. They use a mixed housing model, with an assortment of market rent, below market rent, and rent geared to income. “We believe in diverse communities and that our properties should reflect the neighbourhood around them,” says board president Calinda Brown. That means that they make it possible for low-income earners, as well as people facing challenges such as health, abuse, or addiction problems, to have their basic right to secure housing met. They have partnered up with support agencies which provide the services necessary to support independent living for some tenants, including wheelchair users, for example. With everything from bachelor units to three-bedroom townhomes, CCOC caters to a range of circumstances, providing affordable homes for singles, seniors, families and friends.
For those paying market rent, choosing CCOC means making a socially responsible choice. Your rent dollars go toward a progressive organization and get reinvested in affordable housing. “We’re more than a landlord,” says Brown. “CCOC is a caring community of individuals – staff, volunteers and tenants – who participate actively in Centretown issues like Rescue Bronson and the Centretown Community Design Plan and speak up to promote good local transit, safe and accessible sidewalks, local food and affordable recreation.” Tenants and community members participate in volunteer committees, lending their voices to the running of the organization.
Let’s get green
“Beaver Barracks has the largest residential geothermal energy plant in Canada,” says Gord Lorimer, architect with Barry J. Hobin and Associates. “A high performance building envelope and energy recovery ventilators ensure that energy use is kept to a minimum, while a green roof and rooftop minimize water runoff, reduce heat island effect, and are a great place for tenants to put their green thumbs to work.” Nothing was left out—with Energy Star appliances, low-flow water fixtures, durable and low-maintenance finishes and energy efficient lighting, Beaver Barracks is truly a great example in green design.
A healthy place to call home
With so many efforts to make Beaver Barracks a healthy place for the planet, CCOC’s members voted to make it a healthy place for people to live too. “You can’t control where smoke will travel in an apartment building,” says tenant Jean Beaudry. “That’s why we pushed for a non-smoking policy. CCOC is testing it at Beaver Barracks first, and we hope that it will expand to all buildings over time.” Not only are all common areas non-smoking, but all of the units as well. Keeping with the healthy theme, CCOC uses environmentally friendly products for cleaning and maintenance, and low VOC (volatile organic compounds) paints and sealants to keep pollutants and dangerous chemicals to the lowest possible levels.
Playing their part in a lower footprint
Green features built right into the fabric of a building make it easy for residents to leave a smaller imprint on the planet. But if individuals don’t take care to make changes in their own lives then all those green aspects won’t reach their full potential. “Getting tenants involved really makes the difference,” says Natalia Snajdr, CCOC’s full time green facilitator. “Green education programs, signage, and informative workshops help to build an atmosphere that promotes participation.” When signing their new lease, tenants are asked to sign a green covenant, where they make a personal commitment to use the environmental practices that make sense for them. With bike parking and two Vrtucar parking spaces, Beaver Barracks makes it easy, convenient, and fun to lead a green lifestyle.
For information on renting at Beaver Barracks or any other CCOC property, contact firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.ccochousing.org.