An update from Action Sandy Hill
In November 2020, the City of Ottawa released its draft new Official Plan (OP) to the public for comment. In the new OP, Sandy Hill becomes part of the newly designated Downtown Core Transect. Sandy Hill’s Secondary Plan (SP), originally conceived in 1976, is folded into a new Central and East Downtown Core Secondary Plan.
Action Sandy Hill (ASH) reviewed the new OP with a focus on this new SP. Residents were surveyed for their comments and questions. In addition to comments made at the City’s presentation of the new OP, ASH sent two submissions to City planners. The main issues and requests in the first submission were:
Heritage—Unlike the existing SP, there is no reference to heritage in the new SP. ASH asked that the Sandy Hill Rationale for heritage currently in the existing SP be included in the new SP along with a commitment that the new SP be updated following a visioning exercise.
Chapel Street was classified as a minor corridor in the new SP which would stimulate the demolition of good housing stock including residential housing and possibly see the reopening of the south end of Chapel. ASH asked that this classification be withdrawn.
Good housing—The new SP lacks a definition of ‘good housing.’ ASH asked that this term be defined.
Building heights—The new SP has schedules showing maximum building heights in Sandy Hill. ASH asked that the schedule showing maximum building heights of up to four storeys be changed to reflect the R1 zoning in the southeast corner of Sandy Hill. ASH also asked that the schedule showing maximum building heights of five to six storeys in Sandy Hill west be changed to reflect this asrea’s R4 zoning.
Wilbrod property—A section was added in the new SP outlining the redevelopment of land on Wilbrod between Cumberland and King Edward (currently occupied by St. Joseph’s Church and the former St. Joseph’s Primary School) for institutional use by uOttawa. ASH noted this was a Heritage Conservation District and such a monumental change should require community consultation.
The response from City planners to our requests was extremely disappointing and gave no hope that our requests would be considered. Since these issues are very important to our community, ASH felt it necessary to impress upon City planners the need to reconsider our requests. In a second submission to the City, ASH reiterated the above requests and added that:
• Somerset Street be formally recognized as a cycling corridor in the new SP
• References to the Alta Vista Corridor be removed from the new OP
• Strengthen the wording of the interprovincial truck route in the OP
City planners responded to the second submission saying they would take our requests into consideration when updating the new OP. You will find these submissions at bit.ly/OfficialPlanSandyHill.
We are not the only community association to experience frustration with the consultation process and the contents of the new OP and SPs. The City has received hundreds of questions and submissions from individuals and community associations. This reaction has resulted in the City extending the timeline of the OP and has caused planners to revisit some of the content of the new OP.
We can only hope that the planners reconsider our requests. In the meantime, we can still submit comments on the OP and SP until it goes to Council in the fall. We encourage you to have a look at the plans if you have not already done so and submit your comments to the City with a copy to ASH (email@example.com). The new OP and SP documents can be found at bit.ly/OfficialPlanSandyHill.
ASH will continue to keep a close eye on the situation and will respond to any proposed changes to the plan. If you have any questions or comments in this matter, please send them to firstname.lastname@example.org.
President, Action Sandy Hill
Editor’s note: At the March ASH board meeting, Councillor Fleury said he has brought community concerns to Alain Miguelez, the City’s Manager of Policy Planning.