Ottawa Sun – Sandy Hill sounds more like Sandy Hell, the way residents described it Thursday at City Hall.
Boozy, foul-mouthed, urine-spraying university students are running amok, residents say, and it’s time for the city to step up.
Just days before the May “two-four” weekend, the community and protective services committee heard from several frustrated residents who complained their quality of life is deteriorating because of out-of-control partying in the neighbourhood, which borders on the University of Ottawa.
May Morpaw said the community has become a “free-for-all party destination” and it has roots in one problem: Booze and open drinking.
“It is part of the culture and it happens almost nightly in Sandy Hill,” Morpaw said.
Leanne Moussa told the committee that on St. Patrick’s Day people were standing on rooftops throwing bottles and urinating.
Residents clearly don’t feel safe in their community and are annoyed by party-goers.
Camille Lechasseur told councillors she worries her children’s health and abilities to learn are being affected because of the negative surroundings. She doesn’t want Ottawa to become the next Kingston or London, Ont., two university cities that have experienced booze-fuelled vandalism.
The sound-off was triggered by a city-wide proposal to amend a bylaw to make tenants responsible for “causing or permitting” noise that bothers other residents.
The committee gave a resounding thumbs up and also approved a pilot project to have bylaw officers this summer work 90 minutes longer until 3:30 a.m. between Thursday and Saturday.
“It is one small change that will have a big impact for Sandy Hill,” said Christopher Collmorgen of Action Sandy Hill.
John Dickie, who represents the regional landlord association, said owners are behind the bylaw changes and wish they had more power to bounce rowdy tenants. The landlord and tenant board gives disruptive tenants more chances.
“Do not think it’s something we have a magic wand we can wave and we can solve this problem,” Dickie said.
Gloucester-Southgate Coun. Diane Deans said boisterous parties aren’t just the problem of university-area communities.
Students are finding rentals farther afield, like in her ward, and taking advantage of the O-Train service to attend class. At home, they can’t keep their parties in check.
“The kind of behaviour that’s being exhibited is socially unacceptable,” Deans said.
Some councillors deflected criticism that the noise debate proves Ottawa is the city fun forgot.
“We want to be the city that’s fun for everyone,” Bay Coun. Mark Taylor said.