Lofty Concrete Affordability

1452870357955.jpeg
201 Friel (Friel Towers East). Rainy January mornings don’t present ideal lighting conditions. Image: January 2016

This is just a quick one about a building that I’ve always wondered about.

The brutalist towers located at the closed end of Friel street in Lowertown East were a joint venture of the City of Ottawa and the now-defunct Ontario Housing Corporation (OHC). The $3.2 million, 155 unit project was announced in the spring of 19741”Permits worth $18.3 million issued by city,” Ottawa Journal, March 23, 1974, p. 27. and construction began that summer. While construction was underway, officials had yet to decide whether  market-based or geared-to-income rents would be charged.2Carroll Holland. “Lower Town’s middle class riddle,” Ottawa Journal, July 20, 1974, p. 3. The buildings were completed and families moved in during the spring of 1975. The model settled on: geared-to-income. The market, while expensive, was seen to take sufficient care of the better part of the rental housing market, so long as rents remained somewhat stable.3Upon its transfer to Ottawa Community Housing (OCH), the project is classified under Program Category 1(a), which is defined as: “The public housing programs administered before January 1, 2001 by Local Housing Authorities for the object of providing appropriate housing exclusively to applicants selected on the basis of being financially unable to obtain affordable, suitable and adequate housing on the private market, as determined by Ontario, in housing projects that immediately before January 1, 2001 were owned or leased by the Ontario Housing Corporation or jointly by the Ontario Housing Corporation and the CMHC.” On the note of market rents, Ontario introduced rent control legislation that year.

I have so far been unable to identify an architect’s name associated with the project.

In 2001, during Mike Harris’ second term, Regulation 369/01 was passed under the Social Housing Reform Act (2000), which transferred the administration of social housing projects to municipal housing authorities across the province. Once the transfer was completed, in 2002, Ottawa created Ottawa Community Housing from the Ottawa Housing Corporation and City Living Ottawa.

Architectural fashions may come and go and public housing is well-known for its maintenance backlog, but it does appear that the Friel Towers are a real winner when it comes to energy efficiency.4See Conestoga-Rovers & Associates. Ottawa Community Housing Corporation Building Condition Assessment. Ottawa, February 2009. http://socialhousingresearch.weebly.com/uploads/2/1/7/3/2173587/full_bca_report.pdf.

Notes   [ + ]

1. ”Permits worth $18.3 million issued by city,” Ottawa Journal, March 23, 1974, p. 27.
2. Carroll Holland. “Lower Town’s middle class riddle,” Ottawa Journal, July 20, 1974, p. 3.
3. Upon its transfer to Ottawa Community Housing (OCH), the project is classified under Program Category 1(a), which is defined as: “The public housing programs administered before January 1, 2001 by Local Housing Authorities for the object of providing appropriate housing exclusively to applicants selected on the basis of being financially unable to obtain affordable, suitable and adequate housing on the private market, as determined by Ontario, in housing projects that immediately before January 1, 2001 were owned or leased by the Ontario Housing Corporation or jointly by the Ontario Housing Corporation and the CMHC.” On the note of market rents, Ontario introduced rent control legislation that year.
4. See Conestoga-Rovers & Associates. Ottawa Community Housing Corporation Building Condition Assessment. Ottawa, February 2009. http://socialhousingresearch.weebly.com/uploads/2/1/7/3/2173587/full_bca_report.pdf.

Leave a Reply