Controversial student residence approved in Sandy Hill

Ottawa's planning committee voted in favour of a controversial plan to build a new nine-storey student residence at the corner of Laurier Avenue and Friel Street.

Residents crowd planning committee to oppose proposal for new 180-unit student housing complex

Ottawa's planning committee voted in favour of a controversial plan to build a new 180-unit student residence off the University of Ottawa campus in Sandy Hill.
Ottawa's planning committee has approved Viner Assets' proposal for a new student housing complex in Sandy Hill. (CBC)

Neighbourhood residents crowded the Tuesday meeting to oppose Viner Assets' proposal to build a new nine-storey rental complex at the corner of Laurier Avenue East and Friel Street. 

Anna-Marie Melanson argued that "we will witness moral decay of society and community living" if the student development goes ahead.

Cathy Allison, who has lived in Sandy Hill for 17 years, was concerned about the loss of five historical buildings on the site where the E-shaped student complex has been proposed.

"A nine storey stacked block will do nothing to complement the character, the cultural preservation or neighbourhood pride," she said. "It's all about money." 

Rideau-Vanier Councillor Mathieu Fleury agreed with opponents that student housing should be built on campus. 

"It really puts our community at risk because if we accept it here there is no differences between the purely residential areas of Sandy Hill," Fleury said.  

But councillor Stephen Blais argued that it would be "blatant ageism" to block the project.

"What stops us from going against something because old people are going to live there and we don't like the sound of ambulances. Simply saying we shouldn't allow student housing because they like to party is an unacceptable rationale," he said.  

Lawyer Tim Marc confirmed Blais' sentiment, explaining that you ​"can zone by zone type, but you cannot zone by the type of person living there."

City council will have the final vote on the project next month. If approved, Fleury said that neighbours opposed to the project are prepared to fight it at the Ontario Municipal Board.