Sandy Hill in Lowertown?

Betsy Mann

After 50 years in our neighbourhood, Sandy Hill Child Care Centre is crossing Rideau Street to locate in Lowertown. “We aren’t moving far,” Centre Director Pam Benoit reassures prospective families, “and we won’t be changing our name!”

A disastrous fire in its building on Wilbrod on December 27, 2022 forced the child care to find temporary quarters for several months at St. Paul’s Eastern United Church at the corner of Cumberland and Daly. “The community really rallied behind us and we got help from our municipal councillor, Stéphanie Plante,” says Benoit. “We couldn’t abandon our families, but the church was not a permanent solution.” Sandy Hill Child Care closed its doors there August 31, 2023. “We waited till we would be affecting the least number of families,” Benoit explains. “At the end of the summer, many of the children were moving on to kindergarten and other parents were taking parental leave.”

Elena Mallard’s colourful design won in the adult category of the contest for the new logo of Sandy Hill Child Care.

Meantime, a new location had been found at 5 Myrand, across from École secondaire De La Salle on Old St. Patrick Street. The lease for this small two-storey brick building was signed last October. Since then, efforts have been focussed on getting inspections done, obtaining permits and most recently, receiving estimates from contractors for the necessary renovations.

“We are making it really clear to potential contractors that time is of the essence,” Benoit insists. “There’s a dire lack of child care in our area. I’d call it an emergency. I get two or three phone calls and emails a day from parents who are desperate for care for their children. We need to be open.”

Once the new location is ready, Sandy Hill Child Care will once again have places for 44 children, aged 18 months to four years. “The spaces will be filled from the city’s centralized waiting list, about half of them subsidized and half full-fee,” explains Benoit. “We used to get children from families in emergency housing in the Econolodge on Rideau and I expect that will happen again,” she continues. “They were sure to get good meals with us and we could pass on donations of toys and clothing too.”

As a way of staying connected with the community during the prolonged closure, Sandy Hill Child Care solicited submissions from the community for a new logo. They received ten from adults and four from children, some of them graduates of the child care. The educators are also maintaining connections by getting together regularly. “We are motivated and excited by the opportunities that planning this new site brings us,” Benoit says enthusiastically. “It will be wonderful to be back working with the children and their families again.”


Tessa Schalken, age 9, winner in the children’s category, wanted the new Sandy Hill Child Care logo to reflect its name: “I wanted to draw a sandy hill to go with the name, but I thought it would be a bit boring, so I made it a sand castle because little kids really like to build them at the beach.” Tessa and her younger brother are both graduates of Sandy Hill Child Care.


Illustration: Claire MacDonald