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City council rejected a proposal by developer Viner Assets to build a 180-unit student residence in Sandy Hill at the intersection of Laurier Avenue and Friel Street in a 14–9 vote on March 26.

“We would be wise to send a message that this is an important heritage community that’s under a lot of stress,” said Mayor Jim Watson.

Viner Assets retains the right to appeal the decision before the Ontario Municipal Board (OMB), which would consist of a five-day hearing and a $25,000 to $30,000 expense to hire an external planner, according to the Ottawa Sun. 

Watson also said the residence would not solve or significantly help the issue of lack of student housing on and around campus. The building — near a future light rail transit station — would be mixed-use, holding student services and retail, but would contain enough rooms for 630 students in studio and two-bedroom apartments.

The proposal, first presented last fall, said the building would prevent students from living in converted single-family homes in Sandy Hill. Residents of the area, however, believe the converted houses will still be used and an added 630 students will strain the neighbourhood by increasing noise pollution and litter.

Chad Rollins, a representative for Action Sandy Hill, said in a presentation to the planning committee that the proposed building would “loom over its surroundings” and “ruin the character” that the existing buildings contribute. He also said more students would “exacerbate the growing imbalance in the diversity of the neighbourhood.”

Viner assets has not yet announced whether why will pursue an appeal before the OMB.