Northdale discussion continues

On Tuesday night, the City of Waterloo moved one step closer to looking for solutions to the problems currently facing the Northdale community.

At Tuesday’s packed council meeting, the city reviewed and approved the revised terms of reference for the Northdale Land Use and Community Improvement Plan Study, put forth the Northdale Special Project Committee. This means the committee can now move on to the next phase of the plan, finding a consultant.

“The terms were approved by council, which means that the plan can now go to tender, and by that we mean actually going out and looking for a consultant,” said Jeff Henry, councilor for Waterloo ward six, which includes the Northdale neighbourhood. “We’ll begin to look for a professional, well-qualified consultant…. and then we can really start delving into the study.”

The Northdale community has long been a source of contention, mainly due to its location. Bordered by Phillip Street, Columbia Street, King Street and University Avenue, the neighbourhood is right between the University of Waterloo (UW) and Wilfrid Laurier University. It is therefore home to a large student population and historically, conflicts have arisen between the students and the area’s permanent residents.

Everything from by-law enforcement, to building codes, to the fear of a ‘student ghetto’ forming in the area are issues facing Northdale and the proposed study by the Northdale Special Project Committee — which was approved by council on Dec. 13 — is meant to find solutions to these problems and ultimately find a way for students and permanent residents to co-exist.

More recently, the neighbourhood has garnered attention for the series of attacks and assaults that took place this past fall.

According to Henry, the special project committee includes permanent residents, as well as representatives from the Wilfrid Laurier University Students’ Union (WLUSU) and UW’s federation of students and despite differing opinions have managed to make progress, such as Tuesday’s approved terms of reference.

“There’s been a lot of really good, deliberative discussion,” said Henry. “Everybody who has been at odds or had differences of opinion over the years came to a unanimous decision on those terms of reference…. and I just can’t say enough about how well all members of the committee have worked together.”

These terms of reference will give the hired consultant a framework in which to find a solution, which will include, according to the proposal “the re-urbanization of Northdale, fostering a healthy, livable Northdale district where people can live, work, play, study and shop.”

A consultant is expected to be hired by June of this year, with the final report set to come before council by early to mid 2012.

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