What is Save Sandy Hill?

Larry Newman


It’s the Action Sandy Hill (ASH) committee that started a petition now sporting 3000 signatures and counting.

This is the petition:

I want my elected officials and the City of Ottawa to take immediate action to protect the historic neighbourhood of Sandy Hill and to actively support its revitalization as a healthy, viable and attractive place to live, work and play.

Save Sandy Hill (SSH) is charged with publicizing Sandy Hill—addressing the good and the not so good, especially calling the City to account. It’s all on the net as part of the ASH site.

Like many in Sandy Hill, ASH had been frustrated by poor development for many years. Demolition by neglect continues to be a problem. Many properties are unkempt and some are abandoned. Illegal front yard parking is ignored by the City. Garbage litters many lawns and streets. We’ve raised thousands of dollars, taken bunkhouse builders to the OMB several times and always lost!

In April 2017, ASH organized an open meeting and invited the City to explain the latest changes in its R4 zoning study. The place was packed. Many anticipated relief from the ugly development trends that ASH highlighted. However, when the planners revealed that the zoning study would facilitate the building of small apartment buildings in Sandy Hill, the crowd reacted negatively and noisily.

Taking the energy from that reaction, ASH Director Ralph Blaine proposed a public relations campaign to show the City just how passionate our residents were and what the City government needed to do about it. Save Sandy Hill soon began to attract committed volunteers.

One of the first things on the agenda was to create a Save Sandy Hill web page as part of the ASH web site. It shows ASH’s view of the character of our neighbourhood: its assets as well as its liabilities. On the ASH website you can find links to the petition and to a gallery of photos showing both before and after pictures of poor infill housing, disgusting garbage storage and, of course, bunkhouses.

There are also videos featuring Sandy Hill residents. Ann Lazear, a resident for 80 years, reminisces about her experiences here and her love for the beauty of Sandy Hill. François Bregha talks of our history—tales of former figures of national importance who once lived in Sandy Hill. Mohamed Ali Abdo, owner of Safi’s Fine Foods on Somerset and Blackburn also tells of his affection for Sandy Hill.

SSH has sent press releases for events in Sandy Hill, posted blogs, started a Facebook page and the hashtag, #iamsandyhill and created templates for us to send letters to the mayor and councillors.

Recently, we crafted a pledge and sent it to everyone running for mayor or city councillor. All were asked to sign the pledge and return it to ASH.

I recognize the importance of healthy, beautiful and sustainable neighbourhoods that make everyone in Ottawa proud. I pledge to work with community associations and organizations, City staff, and Council to develop the tools and processes necessary to Plan, Preserve, and Enforce! That means:

  • I promise to promote human-scale development in Ottawa’s neighbourhoods that serves the priorities of the people who live there (as defined by them); is compatible with their existing architectural and cultural heritage; and only permits growth and renewal in keeping with the above.
  • I promise to revive, protect, and sustain the diverse architectural and cultural heritage of Ottawa’s neighbourhoods.
  • I promise to dedicate adequate resources for enforcing property standards and bylaws.

Sandy Hill has a distinguished history and heritage. And we’re in trouble.

If we are to turn the current situation around, ASH realized that it needs to lead an attack on the policies that are responsible for our current state. We know, like Ralph, that Sandy Hillers are frustrated too.

Please sign the petition, and send a letter to your councillor and mayoral candidates. We’ve got to fix this problem.

Larry Newman is Chairman of Save Sandy Hill.