The Once and Future Sandy Hill Housing Co-operative

Date
4 December 2023

Treasurer Glenn Grignon of Sandy Hill Housing Co-op says the writing is on the wall.

Unlike most Ontario co-ops, which own their own land and buildings, this co-operative was developed on land leased from the University of Ottawa—and all leases have termination dates.

Although Glenn expects the university to extend the lease once more to 2028, that will be the end after 44 years on this site near the centre of the nation’s capital. The university wants the property for student housing.

Although members are sad, they feel a sense of relief at knowing the worst after many years of uncertainty. As Grignon put it, “Now we can plan.”

The co-operative houses 100 residents—students, seniors and families—in a mixture of century properties and new-construction townhouses. Currently a Low-risk Agency client, Sandy Hill has a proud history of good management and good governance.

In a city seeing modest housing lost, spiking rents and home ownership increasingly out of reach, the co-operative believes that preserving and creating affordable housing like theirs is key to solving the housing crisis.

Now the co-op is looking for a new location near transit where it can be rebuilt and reborn, even if no longer in Sandy Hill. After talks with elected officials and great support from CHF Canada, Grignon is hopeful, especially with a federal development program for affordable housing in the works.

Looking ahead, the redeveloped co-operative could be even better. Members love their courtyard in summer, but more indoor common space would keep the co-op better connected through Ottawa’s long winter months. If the entire property were accessible, members in wheelchairs could visit their neighbours, instead of always playing host. Some seniors are badly in need of smaller units without stairs.

Will the co-op be able to recreate itself? Rebuild on bedrock? The story unfolds!

Tip of the Month

Capital Reserve Balance

61% of Agency clients hold a capital reserve balance of at least $6,000 per unit. By almost doubling the amount from 2007, co-ops are nearly twice as ready to meet their future needs.