Heron Gate residents push for better living conditions

A group of Heron Gate residents and affordable housing advocates with Ottawa Acorn took their push for better living conditions to the streets Thursday. 

Residents living in the Heron Gate properties, owned and operated by Timbercreek, say they're tired of untouched work orders and finding rodents in their apartments. 

"They are purposely letting things go or when they are doing repairs it is half done," said resident Lisa Brinston. "They don't follow through on it." 

Brinston lives in a two-bedroom apartment with her mother and says repeated attempts to renovate her aging unit have gone unanswered. 

To get the message across, Brinston and dozens of others delivered a list of work orders to the Timbercreek rental office on Thursday afternoon.

John Loubser, the Director of Operations with Timbercreek Communities, says they have reviewed the work orders and will do the best they can to complete them. 

"We’ve done an initial sort through and can confirm that they represent 17 addresses out of the 1665 in our community. In total there are 35 requests for service," he said. "I look forward to working through them in detail in the next few days and will then reach out to ACORN, as promised, to discuss resolving them."

Loubster says the company has worked hard since taking over the buildings to make life better for residents.

But some residents disagree.

In May, Abdu Llahi and roughly 105 other families found out Timbercreek was demolishing 150 aging townhomes in the neighborhood. The townhouses are old and in drastic need of repair but for the residents living there, they are home

"It's depressing," he said. "I don't know what to do." 

Llahi has six children, a wife and a budget of roughly $1,500 a month plus utilities, making it extremely difficult to find a new home.

"I have been looking for the last three months and so far no luck." 

The townhomes are about 50 years old. Timbercreek says it has a relocation plan in place to help the tenants find somewhere to live and says they are not being evicted but relocated.

The whole area, 44 acres, is owned by Timbercreek. It is all part of a bigger renewal project involving the city of Ottawa and the residents of Heron Gate. Timbercreek bought this rental community and its 5 high rises 6 years ago. Two years ago, it tore down 80 townhomes and has started rebuilding those.