Community wants promises not just talk
By Mark Brown
Yesterday, the administration received another letter from the London community offering suggestions about the changes to the Western master plan.
The letter from Tom Crerar, of the London North Community Association, proposes three recommendations to the university. "We are responding to the university's invitation to write comments," Crerar said.
Among other requests, the community wants the university to declare whether or not it supports turning Huron Road into an arterial road and to consult with its neighbours on matters regarding property decisions.
One of the most urgent concerns of the community are plans to develop Gibbons land by Sifton Properties, who has bought parts of this land from the university. Gibbons land is located north of North Centre Road, which is northeast of Fanshawe Park Road and Richmond Street.
Joni Baechler, president of the Stoneybrook-Uplands Community Association, said Sifton has proposed to put two 15-storey towers, a nine-storey retirement complex, a medical and dental building and attached housing in this area.
Yesterday, Baechler and other members of the community had a meeting with Dave Riddell, senior director of physical plant and capital planning services, to discuss their concerns about the Gibbons area. Baechler said she reaffirmed her concerns.
The university has a commitment with the city that there will not be any commercial development north of North Centre Road, she said, adding Sifton's plans will break that agreement. "The land is zoned for part of their plans and they are asking to change the zoning as well."
"We share the concern of the neighbourhood," said Peter Mercer, Western's VP-administration. While the university is still the mortgager of the property, Sifton now has control over the land, he said.
Mercer added Sifton's plans are not in conformity with what they had discussed.
Orlando Zamprogna, special projects coordinator for Western's physical plant and capital planning services, said residents are concerned the university would support a plan to build a bridge over the Thames River at the south end of campus. Still, Zamprogna said residents have no cause for concern as the streets in question do not appear on any of the city's plans, which cover the next 20 years.
This issue was addressed at the open meeting, Mercer said. "We made it clear that this was never part of our intentions."
Still, the community wants the university to state its position on the corridor because they feel it will carry more weight with the city. "We think that would be an important statement to make."