Missing from the photo are returning members Larry Newman and Anthony Friend. Still to be recruited are a Vice President (replacing Bob Forbes) and an ex-officio designate from the University of Ottawa Students’ Union.
About 70 people attended Action Sandy Hill’s Annual General Meeting the evening of May 23 at the Sandy Hill Community Centre. In addition to the sandwiches and treats provided by Chartwell Rideau Place, attendees enjoyed a full agenda on developments within their community. The meeting was called to order by ASH President Susan Young who noted some personnel developments. Notably ASH board Vice- President Bob Forbes is retiring after six years of contributing to a better Sandy Hill. Big shoes to fill. Trina Cooper-Bolam and Scott Williams are also stepping down while Christine Aubry and Doug Ainslie left the Board during the year. Susan then did a quick rundown on upcoming events that is best picked up from the ASH website at ash-acs.ca/
The Treasurer’s report, showing a 2018 closing balance of $45,424, was approved by the membership.
The Bylaw Committee report indicated that the number of noise complaints reported through 311 remained at 2017 levels, so not much improvement. Interestingly, of the 680 complaints filed only 41 or 6% resulted in charges being laid. Draw your own conclusions. On the garbage front, however, there seemed to be some statistical evidence that things were improving but many people noted subsequently that this was not borne out by personal experience.
The Communications report focussed on the Save Sandy Hill outreach initiative, an effort to address poor development, short-sighted urban densification practices, and inconsistent bylaw and property standard enforcement. Petitions, political action and a web page were all focussed on candidates in last year’s municipal election. It’s ready to re-boot when needed. Membership in ASH was reported at 322 but is certain to rise as it did not include those signing up at the meeting. This sounds impressive but represents only 2.6 per cent of the population of Sandy Hill.
The Town and Gown Committee focuses on the community’s relationship with the University of Ottawa. Pre-Panda game street parties (dubbed Panda-monium) remain a problem. The university is being approached with the idea that the game be held on a weeknight rather than the traditional weekend afternoon. Some hope was expressed that the new president may be more sympathetic to community concerns.
The Transportation Committee reported progress on traffic calming, new bus routes as the LRT gets up and running, construction woes to come at Mann and Range and continuing consultation on the transportation master plan update and truck issues.
The Heritage report noted more money for grants, more people with a City staffer dedicated to Sandy Hill and more clout as the Heritage Committee is now a full Committee of Council. However there is still little recognition of heritage value south of Osgoode.
On the Planning front there were some ominous clouds on the horizon. Interim controls are ending, though the R 4 review is still pending, and recent analysis indicates that developments still focus on one demographic, i.e. students. The analysis noted that Rideau Street, long marked for high intensification, has as yet had no new developments (some repurposing) while a low-rise historic neighbourhood has had 85 projects adding 2200 bedrooms. Members also noted that there is a sinking feeling that the four-bedroom cap recently instituted is too generous and unenforceable. In other words if it walks like a duck… it’s a bunkhouse.
The Board reports ended with the observation by President Young that a problem is not a lack of things to do at ASH but people to do them. And lo and behold: this year’s ASH board election was a resounding success as seven new and one returning community members heeded the call and stood up for appointment to the Board and were gratefully acclaimed.
Councillor Fleury provided the last report of the evening as our MPP and MP had other commitments. LRT continues to be a major focus. Mathieu revealed that a multipurpose path would be constructed along the LRT route from Rideau to Hurdman which should be of benefit to many. Construction on Rideau between Dalhousie and Sussex will start this fall and Mann, Templeton, Range and Russell will suffer from various levels of tear-up and rebuild with completion scheduled for the former in 2021. Two new bus routes will debut with the LRT, 55 to the General Hospital and 56 peak period to the Lester Pearson Building. The Councillor also noted that as a result of the impact of short-term rentals (such as Airbnb) on neighbourhoods, a consultation will be launched in the fall to develop a strategy. Check out the City website and search for Short-Term Rental to find out more. Mathieu urged Sandy Hillers to continue to participate in the Site Planning process as there are many proposals on the books and the regulatory regime is at a very dynamic stage. Members of the audience noted that there was a need for simple directions as to how to participate in the process and that may be something that ASH would like to take up. To end on a high note the final discussion of the evening was on rats. There is a city task force but gypsy rats seem to be emerging from the sewers in greater numbers and sightings should be reported to 311.