2019 Award of Recognition Recipients
Lifetime Achievement Award
To recognize an individual with many years of service who has had a major impact on the affordable housing sector in Canada.
DR. REV. JOHN METSON
TORONTO, ON (posthumously)
Dr. John Metson is a legendary figure in housing in Canada. A graduate of Mt. Allison University (BA Theology) and Queen’s (MA Theology and Psychology), he was acknowledged later in his career with an Honorary PhD in Theology from Queen’s University. As a young United Church minister in Oyen, Alberta, he conducted four services every Sunday in small prairie towns. John loved that life but moved to Toronto in 1964 establishing, in Cabbagetown, the first, non-congregational, community outreach Ministry in the United Church: The Christian Resource Centre (CRC). It was groundbreaking and continues to provide social policy advocacy, dignified self-help housing and support for members of an often-disenfranchised community. His community development model has been replicated across Canada because it works well and enables program recipients to maintain their wellbeing and dignity.
He has served on the Boards of Directors of CHRA and Habitat for Humanity, and was President of the Ontario Non Profit Housing Association and the Metro Toronto Housing Corporation. John was incredibly active internationally as well, lending his expertise to developing housing in various countries around the world. John was a powerhouse, never considering retirement even into his 85th year.
In June 2018, in honour of his lifetime of effort to improve housing access to people in Ontario and Canada, the CHRA Board of Directors agreed to award a special Lifetime Achievement Award to John at the time of his untimely passing. Although John is no longer with us in person, his memory will live on forever.
To recognize an individual who has shown leadership in improving housing in Canada through program innovation, policy change, outreach, and/or advocacy efforts.
PRESIDENT, NEPEAN HOUSING CORPORATION, OTTAWA, ON
Lynn has devoted over 45 year providing leadership to the affordable housing sector throughout Ontario. She began her career in housing in 1972 at Ottawa Community Housing where she was one of the first women to take advantage of a management trainee program. She moved on to the Ontario Ministry of Housing in the 1990’s, working as a Housing Administrator, providing advice and assistance to the growing number of new non-profit and co-op housing providers in Eastern Ontario. She then moved to Nepean Housing Corporation in 1994 where she served as General Manger until 2008 and President of the Board from 2013 until today.
Lynn’s time at Nepean Housing was transformative. She restructured the Board to include more community representation. She created hundreds of new units of affordable housing for residents in Nepean, including accessing free land from the city, which resulted in the creation of entire new neighbourhoods. She partnered with outside groups such as the Nepean Community Resource Centre to establish long lasting partnerships. And she was able to secure independent office space for the Corporation which is still used today.
But Lynn’s contribution didn’t stop at Nepean Housing. She was a member of the Mayor’s Task Force on Affordable Housing in Ottawa. She was a member of the steering committee that established the Ottawa Social Housing Network. She served on the Boards of the Ontario Non Profit Housing Association and the Canadian Housing and Renewal Association. Following her retirement in 2008, she was asked to serve on the Board of the Social Housing Services Corporation.
Throughout a lifetime of efforts to improve housing in Ottawa, Ontario, and Canada, Lynn continues to demonstrate the qualities inherent in a true leader, and is eminently deserving of this award.
Community Builder Award
To recognize an individual, business or organization that has had a major impact at the community level in promoting affordable housing and/or preventing and ending homelessness.
LINDA E. ROSS
MANAGING BROKER OF LINDA E. ROSS PROPERTY MANAGEMENT INC., VICTORIA, BC
Linda Ross has been involved in not-for-profit housing for decades and has a well-earned reputation as a principled and passionate advocate for housing that supports Indigenous community wellbeing. Linda has long been at the leading edge of Indigenous housing innovations. She worked as one of the initial developers of the BC Ready-to-Rent curriculum and did some administrative work with M’akola Housing and the Aboriginal Housing Management Association. She currently provides development consultancy with the Salish Sea Housing Society and Underwood Trust to build labour market housing on Certificate of Possession land on the Tsawout First Nation.
Of particular note were her efforts on the Siem Lelum (Respected House) project. In 2010, Linda began working closely with the Victoria Native Friendship Centre to develop an old motel into a new kind of affordable housing property that would provide a community for Indigenous women with children, aunties, young people leaving care and others who were homeless or at risk of becoming homeless. Linda’s attention to detail ensured that the project became a true community, with a common building nestled in the middle of the complex that would host training, support and community activities. This building is a hub of activity, it includes: a full kitchen, common space and office space, a playground for kids, shared bicycles for adults, BBQs and picnic tables and landscaping. Residents are proud of their community space.
The Siem Lelum project was just one example of the ways in which Linda Ross has helped build communities in British Columbia. The Mayor of Victoria has said that Linda “represents the spirit of Victoria – entrepreneurial, innovative, and creative” – which is what makes her an excellent choice for the CHRA Community Builder Award.
Recognizes an organization, business or partnership that has undertaken a program, a new build or retrofit project that advances sustainable development, resource conservation or community renewal.
CATALYST COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT SOCIETY, VANCOUVER BC
Founded in 2013, Catalyst Community Developments Society is a not-for-profit real estate developer located in Vancouver. Although the mandate of Catalyst is to work with non profits and municipalities in providing vibrant, inspiring, and below-market rental homes, they also have a strong commitment to environmental sustainability.
As an example, in their Madrona Project located at the famous Dockside Green neighbourhood, the project comprised 49, 100% below-market rent housing units. The development was built to LEED Platinum standards, the highest LEED rating available. It has easy access to transit, groceries, amenities, services, an extensive greenway network, nature, and additional parks and plazas. Residents have access to the Dockside green car-share program, they are provided with subsidized transit passes, and each household received a new bike upon move-in. Each home features Enerpro individual energy metering for heating and hot water, significantly reducing energy use and costs with some residents paying as little as $4/month. Tenant driven recycling and composting initiatives also contribute to the overall sustainability of the community.
Aside from these innovations, what makes the Madrona project so fascinating is the commitment to social sustainability. Catalyst is undertaking a Community Connections pilot to actively foster a friendly, socially connected, and resilient community. Catalyst has conducted extensive research and interviews with other organizations that have implemented similar programs. These reports will be sharable, ideally leading to similar models across Canada.
With over 600 units currently under construction, Catalyst’s commitment to providing sustainable, connected communities and neighbourhoods will continue. It is this holistic approach to sustainability that earns Catalyst the CHRA Sustainability Award.