Sandy Hill is waking up Ottawa with a heated discussion on the preservation of diversity, balance and history in the capital.
One of Ottawa most densely populated hoods with green spaces, access to core downtown neighbourhoods and a fantastic ethnic, linguistic and cultural mix Sandy Hill is a desirable urban home to many families, professionals and students. However therein lies the gist of the current debate. How can the area preserve the positive student population with its energy and creativity whilst ensuring the neighbourhood does not become overwhelmed by the growing university population and ultimately a University of Ottawa dormitory?
The Ottawa Citizen published Derek Spalding’s City of Noise: Waking up the Neighbours in Sandy Hill in mid-October and since there has been growing interest and coverage of the issue with follow-up interviews important letters to the editor and coverage in Le Droit, on Radio-Canada, Metro Newspaper and beyond.
This is an issue that calls for vision from the Mayor, City Councillors, Politicians and the University. Ottawa must not pull-down or allow buildings in a historically sensitive neighbourhood to fall in to ruin through over-crowded conversions and a lack of maintenance. Sandy Hill has a proud reputation of inclusiveness with embassies, shelters, families and students all living in harmony. No single factor in this balance has as yet overwhelmed the neighbourhood and the current fight is not about ridding the neighbourhood of its important student population rather it is a battle cry to maintain room for all.
Ottawa has an eclectic and colourful city centre and it needs to maintain the balance of liveability by listening to and supporting all downtown residents. Services, businesses, green spaces, pedestrian and cycling infrastructure and of course the right population balance are all key! By acting on the needs of residents Ottawa can ensure a thriving core with wonderfully liveable neighbourhoods such as Sandy Hill, the Byward Market, Centretown and Lowertown. Any great city – think London, New York & Paris – is a collection of truly inhabited “villages” where residents put down roots and grow a dynamic city in to the future.