University District concept approved

City passes proposal to implement street signage to make rebrand official

City Council passed a motion this Tuesday in support of an AMS project to erect “University District” signs throughout the student housing area.

The signs are part of an effort to rename the student housing area previously known as the “Student Ghetto” and as the “Student Village”.

The project will cost approximately $10,000, which will be evenly split between the City and the AMS.

The project was first presented by AMS Municipal Affairs Commissioner Catherine Wright to the Near Campus Neighbourhoods Advisory Committee (NCNAC), before it was taken to Council.

Both bodies voted unanimously in favour of the project.

“This initiative aims to improve the attractiveness and cleanliness of the area, and foster a sense of belonging for all residents,” Wright told the Journal via email.

She sits on the NCNAC, which includes representatives from four district associations: the AMS, St. Lawrence College, Queen’s University and the Kingston Rental Property Owners Association.

The NCNAC had a public meeting on Dec. 4 to discuss the initiative with Kingston residents.

Wright said there were initially some concerns from the Williamsville Community Association about the boundaries of the University District.

“We agreed that it would be best to propose a smaller area for the initial implementation of University District street signs, and this is how we came to negotiate a phased approach,” she said.

The signs will be implemented in phases. Phase 1 will be bound by Division St. to Brock St., Barrie St., King St. West, Collingwood St. and along Nelson St. until it meets with Johnson St.

Phase 2 will extend the area up to Princess St. and into the West Campus area. The second phase will be assessed for feasibility in 2015, according to the motion passed by Council. Now that the motion has been approved, Wright said, the AMS and the City will design the street signs and plan for their installment.

Sydenham District Councillor Bill Glover, who is the chair of the NCNAC, said he wasn’t in favour of the idea when previous Municipal Affairs Commissioners had brought it up.

“Why did I change? I think it’s the quality of work, the presentation of the AMS, it’s the degree to which they’d gone out to solicit community support,” Glover said.

He said the project will go back to working groups like the Quality of Life Working Group and the NCNAC for further study now that it’s been approved.

“The word district is a point of contention that needs to be resolved” Glover said. “Is it a district, an area or a region?”

Williamsville District Councillor Jim Neill said he personally voted for the measure because of Wright’s outreach to neighbourhood associations.

However, he said he was hesitant about the word “district”, since the area isn’t equivalent to the Kingston electoral districts.

“We’re the only city our size that calls ourselves districts. Prior to amalgamation we were wards,” Neill said.

It’s not a decision this Council can make, he added, but he hopes the next Council votes to change the districts back into wards.

Alex Webb, Comm ’15, said he doesn’t think the name will stick, since the “Student Ghetto” is a term of endearment for students despite the negative connotations in terms of housing quality.

“Every time you’re having a conversation, you say ‘Student Ghetto’, not the ‘University District’,” he said. “You still hear alumni calling it the ghetto. It’s hard to change.”

However, Sean Patrick Marrs, ArtSci ’16, said he thinks it’s a good idea, although the name may not immediately catch on.

For example, he said, it’s difficult to get used to calling the former Alfie’s Nightclub by its new name, the Underground.

“We’re generally pretty resistant to name changes like that, but it will work eventually,” Marrs said.

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