Opposition to Student Apartments a Head-Scratcher

By Jason Leach
Published April 23, 2009

A bit of a head-scratcher at City Hall: After years of planning to add density along Main West in order to free up single family homes in Westdale, we are now hearing local councillors complain about a new proposal to do just that:

Hamilton Councillor Bob Bratina calls McMaster University "an unwieldy leviathan ruining everything around it."

Mac is a "university that has grown way too big on its site," Bratina said in commenting on a private developer's bid to build a 10-storey apartment tower to house 600 students between Rifle Range and Ewen roads south of Main Street West.

As far as I can tell, only one student building has been built so far on Main West, and it has been heralded a great success by everyone involved.

The location for this latest proposal is ideal for such a project, close to grocery stores, restaurants and transit.

One member of a west-end group opposing this project bemoans the 'loss of industrial land'. I wonder if she is planning on calling various industrial companies to build a new factory at that site? I'm guessing that wouldn't be too well received by local residents.

Anyone who knows the site knows that there is absolutely zero impact on surrounding homes. I'm not sure that anyone living in the area will even be able to see the building from their home, other than perhaps some on the other side of Main Street.

I would like to see a downtown campus for Mac, but I also hope to see many more developments like this along Main West in the years to come.

More projects like this will continue to aid in the return of families to the nice homes of Westdale and much safer, enjoyable living conditions for both residents and students.

The folks who built West Village condos are hoping to build another similar building directly across from Mac on a former funeral home site. With streetfront retail/commercial space like the current West Village building along Main West, this would be a fabulous development for students and local residents.

Let's hope Westdale residents remember all the hard work that went into developing this plan to densify Main Street to revitalize the residential neighbourhoods around Mac.

Jason Leach was born and raised in the Hammer and currently lives downtown with his wife and children. You can follow him on twitter.


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By varko dranich (anonymous) | Posted April 23, 2009 at 01:41:56

i guess we know who isn't the developer in question if good olde bobby bratina aint supporting it!

but seriously folks, it does seem a better way to intensify an area that is ripe for it without leveling any single family homes. take a look at google maps of this property, it is the weird trapezoid building next to the massive cabdury factory. there is a great buffer of industrial and green space around the site. the nearest house actually has a produce wholesale company next to it! (used to be an odd little sports store in the early eighties) compare this to any of the massive apartment building in the durand area.

it is a shame that it would mean losing some well integrated industrial land. however, that didn't stop them from ok'ing the fortino's store or st. mary's high school, both immediately south east of the site, which as far as i can remember were both industrial until recently.

too bad they couldn't tear down the vacant burgher king (sic) instead.

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By JonC (registered) | Posted April 23, 2009 at 08:01:53

I don't get the opposition either (although I would agree Mac is too big for it's site). Why I don't understand is why the parcel of land on the north east of campus encompassed by Forsyth & Mayfair hasn't been incorporated into the campus yet (or been developed privately). I get that those are nice home on Mayfair, but I assume there is a reason that piece is just a small field. If anyone knows, clarification would be appreciated.

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By Confused (anonymous) | Posted April 23, 2009 at 11:32:14

Genuinely curious: why would Cadbury's move just because a student residence is built nearby?

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By JonC (registered) | Posted April 23, 2009 at 11:54:00

To call it a loss of industrial land is ridiculous. Industrial zoned land sure, but in practice, not since I've lived here.

I can see home owners having some concerns since students aren't always the best neighbours, but I can't recall the last time I heard of an industrial plant filing noise complains against a residential area (which apparently is already happening). "James Ayres, a lawyer for Cadbury Adams, which employs 350 at the long-established plant, said the company is already trying to resolve noise complaints that would only increase with a high-rise residential building next door." It's a factory.

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By Terrible (anonymous) | Posted April 23, 2009 at 12:52:43

Besides the obvious density (for 8 months/year), there is no real loss to nixing this development.

In true London ON development fashion, they have decided to hide this building far from the street rather than right up to the street (what's 'street-front retail' if it's not fronting onto a street?), the building itself is boxy and ugly, and Mac obviously loves the development as it allows more MONEY, err, students to be packed into their already over-packed classrooms!

Take a look at the development itself, and decide on your own.

I'm all about development, but this is the wrong kind in the wrong place! Lets bring some Mac kids downtown. Some will only reach this way if they're forced to! Ask any Mac student... some don't even know where Downtown Hamilton is!!

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By Smokey MacPot (anonymous) | Posted April 23, 2009 at 12:58:19

@ Curious: "Genuinely curious: why would Cadbury's move just because a student residence is built nearby?"

Maybe they're afraid of all the marijuana-induced break-ins (Um hello, it's a Candy Factory!!) AHAHAHA

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By gumdrop towers (anonymous) | Posted April 23, 2009 at 13:18:47

Call me SOLD. What is better than having the scent of candied watermelon wafting through the air while studying for exams? Licorice and candy canes dance through my head. Candyland indeed!

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By Capitalist (anonymous) | Posted April 30, 2009 at 10:16:22

Jason, I actually agree with you on this one.

As for Bratina's comments that "McMaster University "an unwieldy leviathan ruining everything around it." This is just disgraceful. McMaster provided huge benefits to Hamilton and Westdale. Just ask the business owners in that area. I wonder if Bratina would say the same about Stelco or Dofasco?

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By Link Fray (anonymous) | Posted July 18, 2011 at 11:07:29

Local councillors complain about a new proposal to do just 5 keys to a bold spaghetti!

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