New rez plan goes to town
By Brendan Howe
Western's newest and most controversial residence is about to take its final step towards approval but surrounding community members have not given up their fight against it.
The design for the new building on University Drive will be discussed at a London city council planning committee meeting Feb. 23 and will be followed by a recommendation to city council for approval of the site. The design plan of the five-storey structure was approved by Western's Board of Governors Jan. 29.
VP-administration Peter Mercer said the administration met with community members yesterday morning to discuss their concerns which include the height of the building, its close proximity to residents of Tower Lane (the street directly behind where the new residence will be) and privacy issues.
"We believe we have fulfilled all the requirements for the site plan. This residence is something that we desperately need and it is important to the university and important to the city," Mercer said.
Tower Lane resident Jay Casselman said there has been a fair amount of discussion between the community, the university and the City of London but he believes there is not much chance for the plan to be totally rejected by the city. He added, however, the city council planning committee could make some changes to the plan.
"The university thinks the building is attractive and the community does not. We think the design needs to be modified," he said.
The planning committee meeting is open to the public and Casselman said there will be presentations made by members of the community. Bud Polhill, chair of the London city council planning committee, said the six committee members will listen to public input, make their recommendation and then it is up to city council to ultimately decide.
Polhill acknowledged there is significant opposition to the current site plan. "When you look out onto your backyard and see grass, you're not concerned. When you look out onto your backyard and do not see grass, you get concerned."
Although the city planning committee could change the design, Mercer does not think it is their place to do so. "With all due respect, I don't think it's up to the planning committee to be fiddling with the design at this stage."