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Photo © Angelica Zagorski
Culture > News

Heron Gate Community Demolitions Cause Families to Relocate

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Carleton chapter.

A refrigerator sits cracked open on the sidewalk of Baycrest Street in Heron Gate, an Ottawa neighborhood once full of life. Its scattered contents spill onto the asphalt–three apples and a half-empty carton of juice sit untouched. Heron Gate neighbourhood has never been so silent.

Timbercreek Developers announced in May 2018 that they intend to demolish 150 townhouses to make room for high rise apartment buildings. There were over 500 work orders pending in Heron Gate when the evictions were announced. The units were further declared unlivable due to damages and maintenance issues.

Orders from Timbercreek were clear: the keys were to be handed back on Oct. 1. This was not enough time for families to cope and relocate, including the Alawad family. Their family has lived in Heron Gate since they moved to Canada two years ago. They say they have contributed to the culturally diverse community with their eight children and extended family. 

Once a place of comfort after leaving their home country, the Alawad family must once again pack all their belogings, and find a new home.

Demolitions invade the Heron Gate community. Heatherington Park is no longer filled with the voices of children playing, but the crashing construction. The family would have to relocate and re-build the community and home that their family had created.Tenants have been battling with Timbercreek since the announcement of the demolition plans. Photo © Angelica Zagorski.
Enad Alawad and his brother sip on black coffee while they watch their children play soccer. They sort through a collection of bills and letters, saying they have no plans for when they are evicted. “This is what life is like now,” Alawad says. Photo © Angelica Zogorski.
“Families made roots here, children have grown here,” Alawad says. The feeling of community was lost with the homes of the tenants and the Alawad’s say they do not know what the future holds. Photo © Anglica Zagorski.
Some of the younger Alawad daughters play and take care of each other. Their mother has just had another baby, and they are adjusting to new responsibilities. They’re too young to understand the bigger changes that come with evictions. Photo © Anglica Zagorski.
Khetam Alawad struggles to find other children to play with. Many families of the children who he was friends with have been evicted. Photo © Anglica Zagorski.
Khetam says doesn’t understand why things have to change. He adds, if it were his way, he would stay in Heatherington Park, and play there forever. Photo © Anglica Zagorski.
When they are evicted, the children will have to move schools and build new relationships with teachers, friends, and the community surrounding them. Photo © Angelica Zagorski.
A photo from a mural in Heron Gate representing the community and diversity. “We have to be here today, because today is us, and tomorrow is you,” Alawad says. Photo © Angelica Zagorski.

Tenants are now fighting for their rights and for a larger issue facing Ottawa. They’re asking why their neighborhood, their livelihoods and their families being targeted? They’re asking why they should have to move their whole lives and are given such a short amount of time to do so?

“Families made roots here, children have grown here,” Alawad says, describing his diverse community.

He says the feeling of togetherness was lost with the homes of the tenants, but their efforts to rebuild it and a better Ottawa are in the works. Looking forward, community involvement and awareness are pillars in the re-building process, Alawad hopes. 

“We have to be here today . . .This is Canada, we are better than that,” Alawad adds. 

My Name is Angelica, currently in a double major of Journalism and Humanities. I have a passion for creative writing, poetry, reporting, and writing. You can probably find me somewhere reading a book.