New rez under fire; vote on plans today
By Sara Marett
The design of Western's newest residence will be voted on today by the Board of Governors but area residents, whose opposition may soon turn into legal action, plan to attend the Board meeting to continue their fight against the new building.
The Board decided in December to build the new residence on University Drive by a vote of 17-3. In today's meeting, the five-storey design of the residence building will be taken to a vote.
Broughdale area residents, who are currently discussing their legal options, will present a petition at the meeting with hundreds of names opposing the building, said Susan Bentley, president of the Broughdale Community Association.
"It is now clear that we are dealing with a university that has no intention of taking our concerns into consideration and altering the design," said Jay Casselman, a resident of Tower Lane, the street which runs behind the new residence. He added that although Western's administration has been meeting with the community to discuss the design of the building, they are not listening to the residents' complaints.
"What is developing is a deep distrust in the university on behalf of the community, which unfortunately makes for very bad 'town-gown' relations. Legal action is in the murky distance," Casselman said.
But Peter Mercer, Western's VP-administration, said he sees no basis for legal action on behalf of the residents over the building and added he does not anticipate any opposition from the Board over the design.
"We have made every effort we possibly can to minimize the affect this building will have on Tower Lane residents the current model looks much better than some of the initial ones," said Dave Riddell, senior director of Western's physical plant. He added the building has been moved further west so it now overlooks only one Tower Lane home.
London Mayor Dianne Haskett was one of the Board members who voted against the residence in December, but she will not be attending today's meeting. "It is my feeling that the building should be on another site but there appears to be very little hope," she said. Haskett added she is very concerned this situation may lead to a deterioration of the relationship between the community and the university.
Ryon Bateman, graduate student representative on the Board, also voted against the building and said he is waiting to hear the residents' comments before he makes his decision today. "Their concerns will certainly influence my vote."
Undergraduate student Board member Sam Castiglione, however, said he will vote in favour of the design and believes the building will pass with strong support. "There have been a lot of changes since the first model was introduced that reflect the residents' concerns and it is better for all groups involved."