Community associations call for student housing strategy

Ottawa's community associations are coming together to ask the city for a strategy for building on- and off-campus student housing in the city.

Years of conflict have led neighbourhoods like Sandy Hill into a feud between permanent residents and the more transient student population.

Community associations say they want to find a better way to integrate students into their communities, both in the kind of housing they're living in and the way they belong to a neighbourhood.

They suggest using the building of the light rail transit line as a starting point for the discussion because it only makes sense that students will move to less central stops along the route because of the better affordability of housing in those neighbourhoods.

That's what happened when the O-Train was built, according to the author of a letter sent to the mayor and city councillors asking for a discussion about a formal student housing strategy.

"Students don't need to be living three minutes away from campus. With the LRT the idea is that everybody will be mobile," said Dean Pellor, adding that will make new neighbourhoods more accessible to students than ever before.

Councillor Mathieu Fleury says the city recognizes that with students making up 10 per cent of the population they're a special group that needs its own plan.

"It's from two lenses, right, building the right type of housing for students and, at the same time, allowing students to not just live close to the universities or colleges but be able to live in different neighbourhoods and access employment," he said.

Fleury's ward includes Sandy Hill where the battle over student housing is the most volatile in the city.

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