Comment 5916

By highwater (registered) | Posted March 20, 2007 at 15:02:31

Hi Jason,

As a Westdale resident I am always happy to see purpose-built student housing going up in our area, however I am not sure that the scale of this particular proposal is appropriate to the site. The AWWCA has expressed some of their concerns in a letter to Brian McHattie that also went tout to their members. They are very valid concerns and should not be dismissed as "a few residents shouting down a worthwhile project".

McMaster's Growth One of the key blocks in the planning of student housing was that Mac has reached the limit of its growth on the Westdale campus. According to Ian Hamilton, president of the McMaster University Faculty Association, in the association's most recent newsletter, this does not seem to have been formally articulated: Your Association is concerned that the Senate has not formally voted on and endorsed the current enrollment numbers at McMaster. The last Senate-approved target for undergraduate enrollment was 14,400-14,900, passed in 1999. The recent practice is for the Enrollment Management Team to report the numbers to Senate for information. In 2003 the Provost put forward three models for the future growth of McMaster, as part of the Refining Directions process, and there was a lot of discussion but no vote in Senate on these alternatives. Since then, two new initiatives have emerged, namely the McMaster Innovation Park and the Burlington Campus. It still isn't clear what is being planned for the main campus or how the new initiatives will affect teaching and research responsibilities for our members. The AWWCA would not like to be put into the situation of encouraging off-campus housing only to find that it permits McMaster to increase enrollment. At the Sept. 28 meeting with Auburn Developments, Chris Pidgeon, the presenter, stated their building would accommodate the future growth of McMaster. On-Campus versus Off-Campus Housing The campus plan identified a number of sites on campus that would be suitable for building residences. Again, our concern, similar to Number 1, is that off-campus residences would allow these sites to be used for classroom or other buildings to accommodate more students, not as additional residences. Size of the Building The Ainslie Wood/Westdale Secondary Plan (2005) outlines building heights for such off-campus housing that does not exceed six stories. The building proposed is double that maximum figure, even larger than the nine-storey building on the CNIB site. Our concern is that:
a) the work and rational for setting the maximum height to six storeys is being undervalued b) the height would set a precedent for the next developer c) the scale of the building is out of proportion to the size of the lot d) because the building takes up such a large footprint on the lot, there is little space for green areas Timing of the Construction While we hope that the purpose-built housing will free up houses for families, the fact that the building will being constructed so soon after the CNIB-site building creates two potential problems: abruptly putting a lot of houses on the market at once and the possibility that the second building will not fill with students. Traffic There is a concern that, with the existing Cadbury traffic, it would be best for the new building's traffic to exit at Rifle Range Road, where there is a reconstructed intersection with a traffic light. Extended Hours at Billy Bob's This building will offer a ready-made clientele for the bar across the street. There is a concern that this will result in the bar owner trying to extend the nights he is open, creating more misery for permanent residents. If Auburn is given approval to build, we would like to see them provide policing off site during bar hours, similar to what Billy Bob’s is offering. Environmental Issues We would like to see the Auburn development match the LEEDS standard that Dundurn Developments is using. If they cannot attain platinum level, even a lower level would be better than what they are presently proposing.

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