Sandy Hill Community Engagement and Planning Progress

On September 6th, we hosted the annual Town and Gown Walkabout. This event brings together students, by-law officers, police, and community members to go door-to-door with my team and inform students living in Sandy Hill about their rights and responsibilities within the community.

This year’s event was a great success. We visited approximately 200 doors and delivered a package to each door that included information about waste management, noise violations, city services, and key information for tenants.

As many of you know, we have done a lot to oversee planning and development within Sandy Hill over the past six years with the goal of protecting the character of the neighbourhood.

It started with the planning report relating to converted dwellings, which helped address some of the worst planning loopholes. Since 2013,developers can no longer use the conversion bylaw to over-develop single family homes before converting them into low-rise apartment buildings.

The next planning effort was on Infill I, which created a completely new zoning tool.  It created specific regulations in the zoning bylaw that sought to require new buildings to integrate in the surrounding neighbourhood. This means that new developments must fit in with the built character of the street. Notably, it removed parking requirements for buildings up to 12 units, so that parking can no longer be the legal excuse for bad design.  The subsequent Infill II work increased rear yard setback requirements and reduced permitted heights for low-density residential buildings. In 2015, the Sandy Hill Heritage Study created a set of guidelines that directed how development and maintenance should occur in the five existing Heritage Conservation districts, a first in the City.

Then the Uptown Rideau Community Development Plan (CIP) recognized Rideau Street as a continuation of the main street. We protected heights but allowed for density transfers on corner sites with key requirements such as additional green space and privately owned public spaces. The Plan also emphasized the consolidation of Uptown Rideau (the section east of King Edward) with good urban design. This reform was badly needed, as the street still has lots of empty lots and remains a disjointed commercial mainstreet. Our most recent report to pass council was the new requirements for Site Plan Control in Sandy Hill. This report allows for additional scrutiny when it comes to development, especially in

cases where a street-facing façade is being altered, a dwelling unit is being added, or the resulting building is 275 m2 or larger.  This means that no construction will happen in Sandy Hill without proper planning oversight. Oversight will include looking at exterior materials, parking, and garbage management. We are the only community in the city where this measure is taking place. We recognize the impacts that the development has had on our community and we want to make sure proper reviews are conducted by planning experts. Our next exciting project is the R4 review. The majority of Sandy Hill is zoned as R4 and we are reviewing whether or not this structure best suits the community. The review has begun and is looking at maximum numbers of bedrooms and optimal numbers of units per building, among other elements.  The process must review heights, density and use to ensure that R4 zones are a desirable place to live. As our community knows well, our goal is to maintain the character of Sandy Hill while guarding its heritage and stabilizing development pressures. Basically, we want Sandy Hill to be a safe, affordable, welcoming and diverse community for all.