Volume 91, Issue 64

Thursday, January 22, 1998



Neighbourhood rez watch

In the current bidding war between Western's administration and the residents of the area surrounding the new building, it seems the residents have just scored a major point. Instead of just complaining about what they do not like about the proposed building, they have done something about it – they made plans for one they like.

Jay Casselman lives on Tower Lane. If the university's proposed residence is built, his back window will look directly into 60 windows of rooms occupied by – let's face it, noisy first-year university students. His house will be shadowed by a five-storey building and no doubt his property value will drop.

He has accepted the fact that Western's administration is going to build a new residence on University Drive but he desperately wants this building to be one both the administration and the residents can live with.

With the help of his Oxford University education in architecture, Casselman has drawn a building similar to what the administration is proposing in nature, but added the changes he and his neighbours would like to see. He has harmonized the design with nearby Medway and Sydenham to make Western's entrance as beautiful as it currently is.

Casselman is not an architect, but he does seem to know what he's doing. He has not just argued blindly to Western's administration about what he does not like about the building, he's presented a feasible alternative and thrown the ball into their court. Those behind the design of the new residence – the administration and their hired architects, don't seem to know who is calling the shots when it comes to design. It could soon be Casselman.

It appears, though, that the administration is still taking the hard-lined approach. Peter Mercer, Western's VP-administration, has said that if these changes were preferable, the architects would have designed the building that way in the first place.

But the architects don't have the same concerns as the residents. They may not have thought about some of the ideas Casselman is proposing.

The residents are fighting their battle against Western's administration and they are fighting with flair and dignity. They could be marching up University Drive with placecards and demanding that the residence not be built there at all. They could be holding demonstrations and trying to drum up more and more support with media and local politicians.

Instead, what they have proven is that they care about their homes, their neighbourhood and their relations with their neighbours – particularly the university. If Western's administration is not careful about how they handle themselves in this situation, they could find themselves with some very angry neighbours on their front doorstep.

To Contact The Editorial Department: gazed@julian.uwo.ca

Copyright The Gazette 1998