What’s affordable in Ottawa?
Our partners, Healthy Transportation Coalition might be interested in this article on affordable living, rather than affordable housing.
You may have heard the rule of thumb that families should spend no more than 30% of their income on housing, but the author of this article argues that you can’t consider the true cost of living anywhere without calculating transportation costs.
The examples here are all American, but the lesson applies to Canadian cities as well. Families who live in dense walkable neighbourhoods may be able to live without a car or with only one car because they can shop at local places and get most places on foot, by bike, or by transit. Their rent or mortgage might appear high, but other costs are low.
In comparison, families who live in the suburbs of large, sprawling cities might pay less for their homes, but might find themselves paying more for multiple cars and/or spending more TIME in transit.
This is not to argue that one situation is inherently better than another, merely to argue that all costs need to be considered when advocating for affordability. When city councillors are planning and designing new developments, they should be thinking of giving residents as many choices as possible. It may be a choice for many to drive everywhere, but others might like the option of walking or cycling.
Ottawa has a golden opportunity right now to build affordable housing in close proximity to transit – ie the LRT.
We should also be building multi-user systems so that people in far-flung suburbs can walk or cycle to transit hubs.
Let’s keep fighting for a better, more accessible, more people-friendly city!