Comment 39706

By highwater (registered) | Posted April 13, 2010 at 11:04:41

Thank you Kenneth and d. knox for your wise remarks. There is indeed a curious double standard when it comes to Westdale. We not only tolerate, but excuse behaviour in middle-class post-secondary students that we would not tolerate from any other demographic, and make no mistake, the behaviours we are talking about are anti-social and in many cases illegal.

Kiely, when McMaster was established in the 1930's (over a decade after Westdale was established as a residential neighbourhood), it was a sleepy Baptist Seminary with theological students living in basement apartments in the community, and yes, many of our elderly residents do date from this period. Who could have anticipated that Mac would grow to a university of 20,000 undergrads that has made a conscious decision to house a much smaller percentage of its students on campus than other universities of similar size?

When we moved to Westdale a decade ago, we knew exactly what we were getting into. There was lots of partying in September and May, and a little in January after the Xmas break. We didn't mind at all, and in fact actually looked forward to the return of the students in September, and so it was for the first 4 years or so that we were here. Then Mac dramatically increased its enrollment starting even before the double cohort, while making virtually no accommodations (unless you call building a residence for 400 to house an increase of 10,000 'accommodation'). Suddenly the noise, drinking, vandalism, etc. that we only had to deal with in Sept and May, became virtually a nightly occurrence. The summers, which had previously been quiet, actually became worse as students sublet their houses out to people who came to Westdale to 'party'. Is this something we should have anticipated?

We were verbally abused and harassed. We had eggs thrown at us and food thrown at our house. We caught a group of students trying to lure our dog into their car. Mornings included the delightful ritual of hosing urine and vomit off our driveway. Neighbours had the windows of their homes and cars smashed and their gardens ripped up. We have since moved to a quieter street, but I hear from our former neighbours that the bar of acceptable behaviour has been lowered another notch and human excrement now makes a regular appearance in the cocktail of bodily fluids that Westdalians awake to. Since when is this the type of behaviour anyone should 'expect' just because they live near a university? Can you imagine the outcry if it were street youth engaging in these activities instead of our 'best and brightest'? Why is it ok to blame the victims just because its Westdale? Perhaps instead of telling the people of Westdale that if they don't like having their homes vandalized and their pets kidnapped they shouldn't live near a university, we should be telling the university that if its students can't be expected to abide by the same laws and standards of decency as the rest of us, they shouldn't house them in overcrowded family homes in residential neighbourhoods. End rant.

Jason, your point about encouraging patios is a good one, unfortunately Jimmy Gringo's is a very bad example. As d. knox noted, Jimmy Gringo's has been dealing with the city and the community in bad faith from the get go. He operates as a sit-down restaurant in spite of only having a permit for a take out restaurant. He started to knock a hole in a structural wall without a building permit. This is all documented on city documents which I would link to, but I am currently having problems opening pdf's on the city's website. Go have a look for yourself if you care to. Also, next time you're in Westdale, if you ever choose to honour us with your presence again ;-), You will see that the sidewalk depth in front of JG's is only about twice the radius of the door opening, it is also immediately adjacent to the alley that is used for deliveries placing any customers sitting out on the sidewalk within inches of delivery vehicles. It is the size and location of this business, in addition to the fact that the owner now feels entitled to a liquor license in spite of continuing to operate his business without the proper permits, that has stalled his efforts to add a patio, not NIMBYism. And who does he think he's kidding that he didn't know Mac was nearby? This is just another example of his less than forthright attitude.

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