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  #21  
Old Posted Apr 24, 2009, 2:22 AM
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I know. I don't get it. They complain about student houses in the neighbourhoods, then when a solution comes along, they oppose it. I hope this goes through.



Over-building is over-building no matter how many jobs it's providing. The Westdale campus has been built up way beyond its carrying capacity, and Mac has been allowed to download all the attendant parking, housing, truck traffic, and policing problems onto the surrounding neighbourhoods. They're always excused because of the jobs, indirect economic spin offs, or whatever else they're supposed to provide. No one dares to acknowledge the huge downside in quality of life due to their lack of planning, or the fact that they don't contribute to the tax base.
I am sympathetic, although you know when you move there, Mac is there.
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  #22  
Old Posted Apr 24, 2009, 3:17 AM
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As a current Mac student and Student Rental resident, this article really bothers me.

Let's face it, McMaster is one of the few bright spots in Hamilton and its continued growth and expansion is beneficial to the city in many ways.

I can understand that residents of Ainsile Woods/ Westdale are not thrilled with having so many students in their community but its hard to have a successful post-secondary institution without students. Any university/college community has this 'problem' and if they are really unhappy with the situation, they can move (and benefit from the increased value of their home because of the potential student rental revenue it can generate).

And, as mentioned by others, this proposal would likely reduce the amount of student rental homes (or stall the growth), placing 600 students in an area relatively isolated from nearby homes.

The suggestion to place new McMaster buildings downtown instead of onto the existing campus is ridiculous because it would be unreasonable to have students frequently commute across town between the two locations or to isolate one faculty from the main campus. If a large downtown campus was built downtown, surely the same concerns of West Hamilton residents would be shared by downtown residents and non-retail businesses. We'd be hearing complaints of 'rowdy students scaring away economic development in the core'.

Some measures that should be taken are to implement design guidelines for these types of buildings (neither this proposal nor the West Village Condos have a high quality exterior appearance), place a quota on the # of family homes that can be converted to student rentals each year, and most importantly, the city needs to bring in new employers and take other actions to keep these 20,000 students from leaving Hamilton once they graduate. The strength of having a top university is that it brings a steady flow of highly educated young people into the city; Hamilton needs to utilize this and keep skilled people in the city, not take measures to stop students from coming to Hamilton in the first place (by restricting university growth).
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  #23  
Old Posted Apr 24, 2009, 4:05 AM
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As a current Mac student and Student Rental resident, this article really bothers me.

Let's face it, McMaster is one of the few bright spots in Hamilton and its continued growth and expansion is beneficial to the city in many ways.
I agree, but I would say its getting too big as an undergraduate school. I attended in the 1990's and there were 10,000 undergraduates and now they are pushing 20,000. Mac's way to good a university to stuff undergrads in for dollars like UofT and the other big universities. They should be like Queens and cap undergrad enrollment.

Better yet, they should be like the best top international universities and focus more on Graduate students.
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  #24  
Old Posted Apr 24, 2009, 4:28 AM
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I agree, but I would say its getting too big as an undergraduate school. I attended in the 1990's and there were 10,000 undergraduates and now they are pushing 20,000. Mac's way to good a university to stuff undergrads in for dollars like UofT and the other big universities. They should be like Queens and cap undergrad enrollment.

Better yet, they should be like the best top international universities and focus more on Graduate students.
I find it hard to sympathize with the the residents of Westdale; McMaster has been in that location since 1930... you KNOW IT'S THERE before moving. Furthermore, you should know that every university has a ton of student housing surrounding it. If you don't want to live in a student ghetto then don't move beside a university, it's pretty simple.

It's really hard to say whether or not they should be increasing enrollment. By increasing enrollment they are generating more money and more students, and this brings better facilities and potentially better faculty. There are pros and cons and quite difficult to balance the two.
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  #25  
Old Posted Apr 24, 2009, 4:30 AM
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Originally Posted by scott000 View Post
As a current Mac student and Student Rental resident, this article really bothers me.

Let's face it, McMaster is one of the few bright spots in Hamilton and its continued growth and expansion is beneficial to the city in many ways.

I can understand that residents of Ainsile Woods/ Westdale are not thrilled with having so many students in their community but its hard to have a successful post-secondary institution without students. Any university/college community has this 'problem' and if they are really unhappy with the situation, they can move (and benefit from the increased value of their home because of the potential student rental revenue it can generate).

And, as mentioned by others, this proposal would likely reduce the amount of student rental homes (or stall the growth), placing 600 students in an area relatively isolated from nearby homes.

The suggestion to place new McMaster buildings downtown instead of onto the existing campus is ridiculous because it would be unreasonable to have students frequently commute across town between the two locations or to isolate one faculty from the main campus. If a large downtown campus was built downtown, surely the same concerns of West Hamilton residents would be shared by downtown residents and non-retail businesses. We'd be hearing complaints of 'rowdy students scaring away economic development in the core'.

Some measures that should be taken are to implement design guidelines for these types of buildings (neither this proposal nor the West Village Condos have a high quality exterior appearance), place a quota on the # of family homes that can be converted to student rentals each year, and most importantly, the city needs to bring in new employers and take other actions to keep these 20,000 students from leaving Hamilton once they graduate. The strength of having a top university is that it brings a steady flow of highly educated young people into the city; Hamilton needs to utilize this and keep skilled people in the city, not take measures to stop students from coming to Hamilton in the first place (by restricting university growth).
I understand what you're saying, Scott, but I do wonder about a couple things:

A great deal of the homes converted to student rentals are done so illegally: a cap would only increase that.

Many students from McMaster never venture into other parts of Hamilton besides Westdale, and they are not familiarized with the city as a whole nor downtown except some to Hess Village. If Mac expanded undergraduate campuses downtown, this would help change that.

Also, when multiple campuses happen, it works precisely because of that faculty separation. Sure, for example: if an engineering major wants to take a philosophy elective or audit, they may have to go to a different campus, but for all their courses they are still at the location of their main faculty. Although this may limit a bit of cross-pollination between departments, realistically the physical separation does not matter for many faculties and may even be improved by a downtown location.

Here's where I come from, to give you my background. I did my undergrad in Toronto and half of my masters at Mac. I'm slowly finishing my master's while taking full-time a completely different program at the Mohawk/Mac Health Sciences campus: because it pays well enough to allow me to finance the rest of my master's and doctorate. My husband and I have lived downtown in Hamilton for about two years now. I commute to work downtown and I also, for just this month, have been commuting back to Toronto as well. Given our backgrounds, I think I have a fairly unique and comprehensive perspective on this particular topic from an undergrad vs graduate perspective, different types of cities, student interaction, etc - although my perspective is only that of a mid-twenties individual, not the more mature and informed perspectives of longtime Hamiltonians on this board and those with more years of wisdom than I.


Downtown there's more positives than negatives to students relocating there as a whole:
-- one: their housing would pay taxes instead of buildings being vacant or used for subsidized housing,
-- two: the disposable income of students is less than the middle-class and up folks of Westdale/Ainslie Woods, but significantly more than those who aren't employed or are only employed minimally - for everything from groceries to restaurants.
-- three: the image of students is a detraction to neighbourhoods concerned about kids, families, property values... but an asset to neighbourhoods where people typically think of drugs, unemployment, and laziness, both in image and financial benefits
-- four: new initiatives, involvement, and identity from students involved in the downtown and planning events, attending things, and finding themselves suddenly "Hamiltonians" and not just McMaster students is a big shift, and where you live is a big part of that. Graduate students just don't relocate like undergrads do, at least in my experience. Often they have roots in other cities and will commute in to finish their program, especially in the faculties conducive to part-time and flexible study.
-- five: for housing, if there's a downtown campus, not only the immediate area surrounding will benefit but there will be more student housing in other parts of the city that are proximate to the downtown. For example, Beasley and Lansdale could see much more student housing than they currently do.

I feel I'm always borrowing Toronto analogies, but for example let's take Ryerson: If you're a landlord, you'd much rather have students than many of the other residents of that neighbourhood. Students are a better bet: and realistically looking at Beasley for one, the third-poorest neighbourhood in Canada would only be improved by students and student housing there. Imagine a few new LEED-certified student residences just steps away from the core - we should be fighting for that! Imagine coffeehouses fighting to open downtown to serve the student population instead of in Westdale.

In the end, having students familiar with the downtown will keep more of them here and willing to even consider living here instead of moving them from comfortable suburban homes with parents to comfortable suburban homes near McMaster to comfortable suburban homes in Burlington or Oakville or MAYBE the Mountain if they so choose afterwards wherever they choose to go afterwards:

Because they never saw much of Hamilton outside of Westdale/Ainslie Woods, and never got beyond the "ew, dirty! gritty! strange people/activities and broken down stuff is all downtown Hamilton has! What good is it if I can't drive to a Wendy's downtown?!" type of image that is seriously prevalent all over McMaster and lets students fail to discover any of the benefits of urban living, or the many good things Hamilton has to offer. I've had dozens of conversations with students for whom that was their idea of Hamilton as a city, and overheard dozens more along the same lines... that is a mindset that needs to be changed to keep people here, and a part of it is simple familiarity and understanding of the downtown beyond first impressions (though let's work to improve those for everyone too, right?)

Last edited by emge; Apr 24, 2009 at 5:04 AM. Reason: faculty and therefore housing paragraphs/adding Ryerson analogy
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  #26  
Old Posted Apr 24, 2009, 11:06 AM
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Originally Posted by ikerrin View Post
I agree, but I would say its getting too big as an undergraduate school. I attended in the 1990's and there were 10,000 undergraduates and now they are pushing 20,000. Mac's way to good a university to stuff undergrads in for dollars like UofT and the other big universities. They should be like Queens and cap undergrad enrollment.

Better yet, they should be like the best top international universities and focus more on Graduate students.
I agree with this, maybe the school will have better leadership in the post-George era.
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  #27  
Old Posted Apr 24, 2009, 2:39 PM
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Originally Posted by scott000 View Post
As a current Mac student and Student Rental resident, this article really bothers me.

Let's face it, McMaster is one of the few bright spots in Hamilton and its continued growth and expansion is beneficial to the city in many ways.

I can understand that residents of Ainsile Woods/ Westdale are not thrilled with having so many students in their community but its hard to have a successful post-secondary institution without students. Any university/college community has this 'problem' and if they are really unhappy with the situation, they can move (and benefit from the increased value of their home because of the potential student rental revenue it can generate).

And, as mentioned by others, this proposal would likely reduce the amount of student rental homes (or stall the growth), placing 600 students in an area relatively isolated from nearby homes.

The suggestion to place new McMaster buildings downtown instead of onto the existing campus is ridiculous because it would be unreasonable to have students frequently commute across town between the two locations or to isolate one faculty from the main campus. If a large downtown campus was built downtown, surely the same concerns of West Hamilton residents would be shared by downtown residents and non-retail businesses. We'd be hearing complaints of 'rowdy students scaring away economic development in the core'.

Some measures that should be taken are to implement design guidelines for these types of buildings (neither this proposal nor the West Village Condos have a high quality exterior appearance), place a quota on the # of family homes that can be converted to student rentals each year, and most importantly, the city needs to bring in new employers and take other actions to keep these 20,000 students from leaving Hamilton once they graduate. The strength of having a top university is that it brings a steady flow of highly educated young people into the city; Hamilton needs to utilize this and keep skilled people in the city, not take measures to stop students from coming to Hamilton in the first place (by restricting university growth).
Welcome to the board, Peter George!

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  #28  
Old Posted Apr 25, 2009, 2:17 AM
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The idea that it's unreasonable to ask students to commute a few kilometres also makes no sense. That happens everywhere else, why not here?
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  #29  
Old Posted Apr 25, 2009, 6:34 PM
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The vast majority of Mac students hail from the 905, and these days parents have alot more say in students' living arrangements than previous generations. 905 parents just don't want their kids living in scary downtown Hamilton.

Last edited by highwater; Apr 25, 2009 at 10:06 PM.
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  #30  
Old Posted Apr 25, 2009, 8:56 PM
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That's true (and culturally not something I'm impressed with. The infantalization of young people and extended adolescence of our culture is just ridiculous. But I digress...)

Those same parents will, though, let their kids live in "scary downtown Toronto" (which yes, they may think of as marginally safer than Hamilton in popular perception) if the only or preferred school for their program is U of T or Ryerson. Many just send them to York, of course. But if we had a downtown campus - put our arts there for one - there would be some complaining, but I think it wouldn't be a huge issue beyond initial resistance.

Otherwise we're just going to clone their suburban surroundings and keep students in a student ghetto. They won't truly experience urban living. Hamilton as a city will remain largely foreign and frightening. With that, we'll continue to fail to retain many of those young, skilled workers - or if we do they will have a much harder time getting to know, like, or live in the rest of the city.

For example, my brother wants to do mechanical engineering next year. His preferred options are McMaster and Waterloo, and Mac is his first choice. (He was thinking of living close to campus, but since my husband and I live downtown and have a spare bedroom, we said if he stayed with us half his rent would go into an RRSP for him, which he saw as a smart option.)

I agree a downtown residence would ideally be secondary to a downtown campus. If his faculty was downtown, he'd automatically have thought of living downtown in the first place. Money trumped it though. And I doubt that downtown accomodations would prove more expensive than a house in Westdale (although residence rates are brutal) Instead of wealthy parents buying houses for their kids and turning them into rentals, what about buying condos?

Right now though, there's no real incentive for students to live downtown: there's no prepared option for them, no residence, no campus - no reason to leave Westdale if you don't have to. As has been mentioned, Westdale is "downtown" to many of them.

Any downtown focus would be a big shift for the city and for McMaster... but I think it's essential to get students living in other parts of Hamilton,and if possible attending classes downtown, for them to develop an identity here and change their first impressions of the city. Then we may begin to take some steps towards keeping people in the city - or even thinking and talking positively about the city - after they graduate instead of them still having the "Ew, Hamilton!" mindset.
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  #31  
Old Posted Apr 27, 2009, 2:41 PM
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Parents don't usually determine where their kids go to University,.... the kids make the choice and the parents provide the money to make it possible. Kids want to be in downtown Toronto because of the nearby amenities, the action, all the events, etc. If Hamilton offered the same, Mac students would be lining up to live downtown. Hopefully this can be true in 10 years...?
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  #32  
Old Posted Apr 27, 2009, 3:30 PM
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Parents don't usually determine where their kids go to University
Parent's have far greater say in where their kids go to university these days than they did in the past. University faculty and admin can tell you that parents are also lining up with their 'kids' at the registrar's office to help determine what courses their kids take, and calling up their profs to complain about their kids' marks, etc. Sad but true.

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Kids want to be in downtown Toronto because of the nearby amenities, the action, all the events, etc.
UofT and Ryerson attract a different demographic - more foreign students and 416ers who are comfortable in dense, urban areas. Mac's student body on the other hand is overwhelmingly from the 905. They don't like downtown Hamilton because they don't like downtowns period. There's a reason Mac's student centre resembles a mall food court. Students were surveyed extensively before it was built, and that is what they wanted to see, because those are the kind of surroundings they are comfortable with.

We need to stop beating ourselves up for not attracting students with a suburban mindset, and just get on with the business of making our downtown an attractive place to live, work, and play for everybody. The students who are open to it will discover it, and the ones who aren't are a lost cause anyway.
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  #33  
Old Posted Apr 27, 2009, 4:44 PM
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I thought that Mac attracted a large percentage of foreign students.. surely the students from india and china - for example - are used to more of an urban mindset?
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  #34  
Old Posted Apr 27, 2009, 5:08 PM
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I thought that Mac attracted a large percentage of foreign students.. surely the students from india and china - for example - are used to more of an urban mindset?
I also expect there's a tendency among people from very crowded cities in that part of the world to value the open space and privacy of the suburbs.
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  #35  
Old Posted Apr 27, 2009, 6:12 PM
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I thought that Mac attracted a large percentage of foreign students.. surely the students from india and china - for example - are used to more of an urban mindset?
There are some foreign students, but they form a smaller percentage at Mac than they do at other universities of similar size. Mac is trying to rectify that by increasing overall enrollment in an attempt to gain 'world class' status through sheer size. For the time being, Mac is dominated by the 905.
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  #36  
Old Posted Apr 27, 2009, 8:46 PM
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There is a tendency for 905 kids to reject everything about the suburbs where they grew up and embrace the city. The Toronto 20-30 yr old crowd is dominated by kids who grew up in the suburbs and swear they will never go back.
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  #37  
Old Posted Apr 27, 2009, 9:21 PM
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There is a tendency for 905 kids to reject everything about the suburbs where they grew up and embrace the city. The Toronto 20-30 yr old crowd is dominated by kids who grew up in the suburbs and swear they will never go back.
Dominated? Really? I'm going to play the adam card here and demand you back it up with a link or other irrefutable proof.
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  #38  
Old Posted Apr 27, 2009, 11:20 PM
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I can attest from five years of living in Toronto that I personally met hundreds of people, most in the 25-30 age range, some older, some younger who were still students, dozens of whom I had conversations about this topic with, who grew up in the suburbs and rejected it in favour of the city.

I lived midtown, and I was the exception, and the almost always the one who lived the furthest north. At Eglinton and Yonge. The hipsters in downtown T.O. are so very often the kids who rejected the burbs, got cool design jobs (or not so cool banking or accounting jobs ).

I remember meeting students from Ryerson who started a clothing company while they were still in school and opened a location on Bloor, while they were still students. The one who I keep in touch with now owns her own boutique. Sure, we don't have that type of program here, but there's a lot of examples where kids from the burbs come to the city, love it, and become its biggest fans.

Heck, I was in the Annex yesterday (Bathurst/Bloor in Toronto, trying to read.) at one of their coffee shops crammed full of hipsters, and the conversations that assailed my ears were so often on this topic it was ridiculous. So much "I don't want to move out to the subuuurrbbsss" talk, so much "I just bought a condddoo" talk, so much "save the environment, don't own a car" talk.

All of that said though... it does still stand that we do need to make downtown Hamilton better for everyone, and that's the most useful goal in mind anyhow.
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  #39  
Old Posted Apr 28, 2009, 2:52 AM
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I hear you emge.. Perfect summary of the mindset. I had the same experiences during my Toronto days.

Hamilton has an excellent opportunity to really revitalize its downtown and start taking the overflow of the Toronto scene... those who are fed up with high cost of living and yet still want to be somewhere they can live an urban lifestyle. It was really something to see NO SMOKE coming out of Stelco from York Blvd. today. This must have a huge psychological effect on people. I think its going to help the downtown in the long run.
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  #40  
Old Posted Apr 28, 2009, 2:55 PM
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Dominated? Really? I'm going to play the adam card here and demand you back it up with a link or other irrefutable proof.
Who do you think is fueling the condo market?

The Echo Generation.
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