Bratina: Mac ‘too big,’ needs downtown campus
April 22, 2009
The Hamilton Spectator
Hamilton Councillor Bob Bratina calls McMaster University “an unwieldy leviathan ruining everything around it.”
Mac is a “university that has grown way too big on its site,” Bratina said in commenting on a private developer’s bid to build a 10-storey apartment tower to house 600 students between Rifle Range and Ewen roads south of Main Street West.
“There’s nothing we can do but allow Mac to continue creating a huge nuisance for the neighbourhood,” the downtown councillor told other members of city council’s economic development and planning committee Tuesday.
Councillor Brian McHattie, who represents the area, said: “Certainly Councillor Bratina’s comments are warranted. I have had meetings encouraging McMaster to set up a downtown undergraduate campus.”
West Mountain Councillor Terry Whitehead, who has complaints about student housing around Mohawk College, said he agrees with both Bratina and McHattie and thinks the city should encourage other universities to locate downtown if McMaster isn’t interested in expanding its presence there.
Action on the Ewen Road rezoning — opposed by hundreds of area residents as well as the neighbouring Cadbury Adams candy plant — was postponed for a month to wait for a noise report and give the applicant, Auburn Developments of London, Ont., time to meet with Cadbury Adams
Auburn wants to build 150 four-bedroom apartments on the site of an empty warehouse that was once a bar catering to students. The property runs through the block between Fortinos parking lot on the east and the Hydro One right-of-way to the west.
Chris Pigeon of GSP Group said Auburn, which has similar projects in Montreal and London, would offer social activities for its tenants and tight security for both students and the surrounding neighbourhood.
The Ainslie Wood-Westdale Community Association of Resident Homeowners raised concerns about parking and the building’s height.
Former alderman Mary Kiss, representing another group, questioned the need for more student housing, loss of industrial land and neighbourhood compatibility.
James Ayres, a lawyer for Cadbury Adams, which employs 350 at the long-established plant, said the company is already trying to resolve noise complaints that would only increase with a high-rise residential building next door. He argued Auburn should have to prove its development would be compatible.