Sandy Hill is one of Canada’s oldest neighbourhoods, full of spectacular mansions, grand dame apartment buildings, pre-Confederation family homes and charming Victorian rowhouses. Over the course of more than 150 years, it has become one the most historically-rich, nationally-important small-scale cultural landscapes in the country. Home to figures such as Father of Medicare Tommy Douglas, CPR magnate Sir Sandford Fleming and WWI flying ace Billy Bishop, it has also served as residence to lumber barons, Governor Generals, Chief Justices of the Supreme Court, Cabinet Ministers, Mayors, Lieutenant Governors, Clerks of the Privy Council, and heads of national institutions. Perhaps even more incredibly, seven Fathers of Confederation and ten Prime Ministers have called Sandy Hill home, many of whose houses remain standing. Today, when Canadians wander through Sandy Hill – following in the wake of visitors such as Yousef Karsh, Oscar Peterson and Sir Winston Churchill – they are quite literally walking in the footsteps of our nation-builders.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Poor urban planning practices in the 1960s and 70s had a tremendously negative impact on Sandy Hill. In recent decades the growth of the University of Ottawa has led to increasing demand for high volume housing for transient populations. When coupled with low-quality development, short-sighted densification practices, under-resourced bylaw and property standard enforcement mechanisms and policies that favour absentee landlords, this has led to the denigration of built heritage and a decline in the health of the public realm. Beautiful streetscapes have been reduced to student ghettos, historic avenues have totally degenerated and loss of awareness regarding the historical importance of the neighbourhood has left the entire area more vulnerable to decay. The destruction of stunning, architecturally-important buildings to create ugly bunkhouses has become the norm. Demolition by neglect is commonplace. Numerous heritage properties are unkempt and abandoned. Illegal front yard parking prevails. Garbage is strewn all over the streets. Greenspace and tree canopies are being lost at an alarming rate. Census data and anecdotal evidence shows us that permanent residents are fleeing the neighbourhood. The community fabric that holds Sandy Hill together is tearing at the seams. Sandy Hill is becoming less attractive, less healthy, less viable and less livable. Sandy Hill is a neighbourhood at risk.

 

 

 

 

 

 

So why should you care? Sandy Hill is the historic heart of Ottawa. As an integral part of the urban core, its health is critical to the overall health of the city. High quality parks and public spaces create economic, social, cultural and environmental value. The quality of public space and the built environment has a direct impact on how people live, how long they live and how they feel. Successful, sustainable, prosperous communities are characterized by streets, parks and open spaces that are clean, safe and attractive. In its current state, Sandy Hill represents wasted opportunity that serves nobody but individual, wealthy, non-resident developers and foreign companies. It is failing to live up to is tremendous economic, social and cultural potential, it is failing to serve its residents, it is failing to leverage its significant tourism opportunities and it is undermining the City’s own vision for Ottawa in relation to health and quality of life; economic prosperity; culture and identity; governance and decision-making; connectivity and mobility; and housing.

 

 

 

 

 

 

What Do We Want:

  • Preservation and restoration of Sandy Hill’s history and built heritage
  • Beautiful, well-maintained, green streetscapes and adjacent public spaces
  • Attractive, appropriate, high-quality development focusing on mixed-density housing
  • An appropriate balance of permanent and transient residents
  • A multiplicity of high-quality retail and commercial options, services and amenities

 

How Should We Get There:

  • Enforcement of Heritage Conservation District guidelines
  • Systemic changes to the bylaw and property standards frameworks and adequate funding for enforcement
  • Systemic changes to the existing tax structure in order to disincentivize negative trends and encourage positive development
  • Update and approval of a citizen-led Sandy Hill Secondary Plan that addresses, inter alia:
    • Neighbourhood-specific design standards
    • Opportunities for attracting high-quality commercial development
    • Strategic intensification and stabilization zones
  • Full Site Plan Control for all new development
  • Public space infrastructure renewal

 

Sandy Hillers of all walks of life, of all ages and of all backgrounds want the same thing: a healthy, prosperous, attractive, viable, equitable, walkable, intergenerational, green neighbourhood. Achieving this requires political will, bureaucratic support and citizen engagement.

Sandy Hillers are at the table. Will you join us?