Letters & Opinion

Sandy Hill is a great neighbourhood. How can we keep people here?

Eric and his cat, Luna, on moving day
Photo Marie-Pierre Lefebvre

Eric moved to Sandy Hill from the Greater Toronto Area in 2015, with his then girlfriend, who is now his wife. They lived in the same apartment on Wilbrod Street until September 2022. When they found their one-bedroom apartment in Sandy Hill, they fell in love.

They loved the area, the neighbours, the landlords, and the rent. Their landlords at the time, an elderly East Coast couple, owned and lived in the same house, in another unit. They had lived there for 50-some years and showed pride of ownership. They planted trees, they cared for the house and the yard—the flowerbeds and rose bushes were their pride and joy. They ensured their property showcased the charm of the era and that the tenants were happy and felt at home.

In 2020, the owners sold the house. It was time to move on. Over the last two years, Eric and his wife only met their new landlord a few times after the house was sold, as most communications were handled through a property manager who was focused on rent and basic upkeep.

While they loved their neighbours and community, the quality of life was not the same as it was under their previous landlords. They no longer felt the same pride in the building and attachment to their apartment. Thinking of the future, they also agreed it might be time to look for a bigger place to call home.

They loved Sandy Hill and its vibe, huge trees, history, and community atmosphere it offers. They loved being close to shopping, parks, entertainment, and life! They looked far and wide for a three-bedroom rental in the neighbourhood, to no avail. Unfortunately, it seemed that either their timing was off or that rentals in Sandy Hill cater mostly to students looking for a smaller place, or to families looking to rent an entire house with a bigger budget.

When Eric and his wife moved out in August, they crossed the river to Vanier, where they found an affordable three-bedroom house where they can grow. While they are enjoying Vanier so far, Eric mentioned he would also love to come back to this side of the river, but he is not sure when or how. The price of houses is through the roof, and rents have also gone up. Their old one-bedroom apartment, that they paid $1,087/month for, was increased to $1,400/month as soon as they left.

Sandy Hill is a great place to live and I’d love to have my neighbours back. I understand the issues that our community faces and I hope the new leadership in the city and the ward will help in creating affordable, comfortable rentals for all sub-populations, not just for students.

Sandy Hill is the place to be, to live, to have children in (or not!), and to thrive. It’s not just a temporary residence for uOttawa students!

Marie-Pierre Lefebvre

Stewart Street