Development in Sandy Hill: update on the City’s R4 review


(For earlier background on ASH’s position on development in our neighbourhood, please read:
This page was developed prior to the 2017 municipal election. For a definition of the “missing middle”, see here:

Currently, the City of Ottawa is proposing zoning changes that will affect development in Sandy Hill and other Ottawa urban neighbourhoods that contain “R4” zoning (such as Vanier, Overbrook, Centretown, Hintonburg and a small part of New Edinburgh). The changes are designed to promote affordable low-rise apartment buildings, to respond to the need for more rental housing in Ottawa.
More background information on the whys of the City’s R4 zoning review can be found here:


The proposed zoning changes will:

  • Retain the current R4 height and building envelope limits;
  • Increase the allowed number of units in a building to eight, twelve, or an unlimited number, depending on the size of the lot;
  • Introduce specific building design standards to the zoning, including requirements for facade articulation (to eliminate boxes being built) and for doors, windows and balconies facing the street;
  • Modify current yard area requirements to obtain greenspace and trees more appropriate to an urban site and context; and,
  • Ensure that surface parking is not permitted to replace, encroach upon or degrade the green spaces, trees, walkways and other functional areas.

The City has recognized that Sandy Hill has market and social pressures that other neighbourhood’s do not have, namely:

  • That nearly all new developments in Sandy Hill are being built exclusively for one demographic, and this is a barrier to others who also wish to live in our neighbourhood – young professionals, families, retirees, seniors, etc.; and,
  • That the City’s heritage protections for homes in Sandy Hill’s eight Heritage Conservation Districts (HCDs) have shown themselves to be insufficient to prevent neglect, demolition, and unsympathetic renovations. Zoning should protect Sandy Hill’s built heritage – including its early-to-mid-20th century housing stock that sits outside these HCDs – with attractive, appropriate, high-quality development that contributes to the character and vitality of the neighbourhood.


ASH is in discussions with the City to ensure that changes to R4 zoning incentivize gentle and positive intensification in Sandy Hill, not just through low-rise apartment buildings, but also missing middle housing types. ASH’s views are that:

  • It is not clear that the proposed changes will serve this purpose in Sandy Hill’s context, and may instead simply incentivize more of the same kind of development we have
    witnessed in the past decade; and,
  • Zoning in Sandy Hill now needs to promote gentle densification with a diversity of “missing middle” housing options, to sustain a healthy balance of long- and short-term residents.

Residents are encouraged to read the City’s background studies and recommendations at: and to submit comments by February 21, 2020 to

ASH will continue to update residents as it engages with the City during the R4 review process. We also welcome your comments.
The Board of Action Sandy Hill