Houses of Hintonburg project documents a changing neighbourhood

By Bradley Turcotte – 

Gentrification is slowly creeping into every Kitchissippi neighbourhood. Hintonburg is not immune to modernization and one photographer has taken to Instagram to archive the “grittiness” of the neighbourhood before it disappears.

David’s Segaert’s Houses of Hintonburg Instagram account – which can be found at instagram.com/houses.of.hintonburg – chronicles “one of Ottawa’s greatest neighbourhoods” with the help of a Samsung Galaxy S5.

As an operations manager for the Causeway Work Center’s groundskeeping company, he finds himself in Hintonburg every day.

“When it comes to the houses, there’s a lot of variety. Some are brick, some are stucco, some have interesting siding that you don’t really see anymore. There’s so many textures, colours and styles that I think that’s what keeps it interesting,” David says. “Hintonburg offers a lot.” [story continues below]

David Segaert stands next to one of his favourite houses on Armstrong Street. “The house is falling apart but it makes for by far the most interesting pictures. I’ve never actually seen anyone going in and out of there,” he says. Photo by Bradley Turcotte
David Segaert stands next to one of his favourite houses on Armstrong Street. “The house is falling apart but it makes for by far the most interesting pictures. I’ve never actually seen anyone going in and out of there,” he says. Photo by Bradley Turcotte

David says the project isn’t completely about the unique architecture found on any given Hintonburg street, but rather the neighbourhood’s character as “one of the only gritty spots left in town,” adding that houses in “rough shape” make for the most interesting snapshots.

“Hintonburg has an interesting style,” David reiterates. “There’s no real rhyme or reason to it especially now that houses are getting torn down and then getting replaced with those infill, super modern houses.

Hintonburg Community Association (HCA) board member, Linda Hoad, prefers the term “eclectic” over “gritty,” and acknowledges gentrification is happening in Hintonburg. She explains that Hintonburg’s “non-conforming” buildings are part of what makes the neighbourhood so unique. Many were built as early as the 19th century, before zoning guidelines existed.

The HCA’s primary concern with the changing architectural landscape is affordability.

“It has been in the past an affordable neighbourhood and it’s very quickly becoming unaffordable to the kinds of people who have long lived here. Even though we do infill and we replace one house with two we still get houses that are very expensive to buy,” says Linda, who has been a resident of Hintonburg for over three decades.

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View of Hintonburg, by David Segaert
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View of Hintonburg, by David Segaert
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View of Hintonburg, by David Segaert
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View of Hintonburg, by David Segaert

While the development of vacant lots is beneficial, the HCA works with the City and goes before the Committee of Adjustment to ensure new buildings are compatible with their surroundings in terms of mass and height. The height of infill homes continues to be a contentious issue.

“We have been fairly fortunate that we don’t have too many monster homes,” she continues. “That has happened a lot in Westboro.”

These monster homes or “McMansions” are not possible in Hintonburg, says architect Paul Kariouk of Kariouk Associates. Lots are smaller. Instead, “McBoxes” or tall infill homes are erected.

He fears if these homeowners don’t maintain their homes, Hintonburg could one day look like a slum.

As he watches Hintonburg’s evolution, David suggests gentrification is a dichotomy.

“The tear-downs that get replaced with modern infill homes scare me. I don’t dislike that style necessarily, but it certainly takes away from the character of Hintonburg. Hintonburg just wouldn’t be Hintonburg without all those ramshackle homes that are representative of the working class nature of the neighbourhood.”

Do you have a favourite local Instagrammer? Someone who shares a new perspective on the community? Let us know! You can find KT on Instagram at instagram.com/kitchissippitimes.

 

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