University District Summit highlights future development challenges

Discussions held on development, landlords, tenants, permanent residents and students

Mayor of Waterloo Dave Jaworsky (left) and Municipal Affairs Commissioner Francis Campbell (right) at the Feb 11 Summit.

In a new initiative by AMS Municipal Affairs Commissioner (MAC) Francis Campbell, this Saturday’s University District Summit brought together students, permanent residents, University staff and landlords to discuss the most pressing development and integration issues in Kingston.

Areas of focus included the downtown core, the University itself and its student district. 

The conference, held at the Delta Waterfront Hotel, was organized jointly by the AMS and the City of Kingston to facilitate a dialogue between stakeholders. AMS President Tyler Lively and Rector Cam Young were among student leaders in attendance. 

A keynote was delivered by the Mayor of Waterloo, Dave Jaworsky about the future of Kingston and issues that might face stakeholders.

 

Dave Jaworsky addresses the summit at the Delta Waterfront Hotel. Credit: Iain Sherriff-Scott 

Jaworsky, who was elected Mayor in 2014, has faced similar issues in Waterloo as the University continues to increase in size. Since his election, Jaworsky has worked to quite literally ‘build-up’ Waterloo’s student district. 

“A phrase I like is ‘live, work and play’ if you are going to have a vibrant downtown over a long period of time you need to have people living there, working there and playing there,” Jaworsky remarked. 

One of the most controversial issues raised was about whether residents in Kingston would be comfortable implementing similar high-rise student living and permanent housing, not only in the University District, but in Kingston’s downtown core.

Some residents expressed significant concerns with high-rise development, citing that the downtown core should be considered a heritage site. 

In response, Mayor Jaworsky said that “the days of people driving in from the suburbs to do their vast majority of shopping doesn’t happen.”

“If you want to have your downtown core and you don’t want it to disappear completely, you really need to have people living here,” he said. “The only way you can do that is growing vertically. Without the people living here and shopping here, the downtown core will disappear.” 

“If you want to have your downtown core and you don’t want it to disappear completely, you really need to have people living here,” he said. “The only way you can do that is growing vertically. Without the people living here and shopping here, the downtown core will disappear.” 

 

Attendees discuss the issues brought up by Kingston stakeholders. Credit: Iain Sherriff-Scott 

Other residents spoke about concerns surrounding student housing and misbehaviour in the University District. Patricia Forsdyke, a permanent resident in the Sydenham Ward, which sits directly adjacent to the University District, claimed that “the rowdy keg parties persist.”

In a pre-written letter given to The Journal during the summit, Forsdyke wrote, “the powers that be say that their hands are tied. Rubbish, get on with it. Or ‘animal farm’ is here to stay!” 

Campbell has recently made statements in response to a report that went in front of city council. The report detailed ways in which existing bylaws could be used to restrict student housing, and in response, Campbell believes that students are being discriminated against. 

Forsdyke wrote about Campbell’s remarks saying “to Mr. Campbell I say, ‘Yes they are. I wonder why?’ This will continue as long as many of their peers are behaving like uncouth monsters.”

“We woke up on a recent Saturday morning to copious vomit beside our front door,” Forsdyke wrote, “eggs were tossed at a citizen’s window and letters were painted on the front gate.”

“We woke up on a recent Saturday morning to copious vomit beside our front door,” Forsdyke wrote, “eggs were tossed at a citizen’s window and letters were painted on the front gate.”

The summit highlighted issues that Kingston will face and already faces in the coming years and farther down the road as the University expands and the city grows. 

The general consensus of the day was that responsible development and meaningful student relations will depend on a continued discussion between the University, students and residents. 

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