Student input needed in Northdale debate

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Many students at both Wilfrid Laurier University and the University of Waterloo may not know it, but they live in one of the most important neighbourhoods in the city.

The area known as Northdale — a neighbourhood that is bordered by King Street, Columbia Street, Philip Street and University Avenue — is perfectly situated for students. It’s less than a ten-minute walk away from both Laurier and UW and as such, the area is largely populated by students. Northdale has been a subject of lengthy discussion for the better part of a decade.

In recent years, problems between students and permanent residents, decaying property values and a need for housing intensification has led to a large amount of city council’s attention being directed at Northdale. The Northdale Special Project Committee (NSPC), made of a number of different stakeholders in the community was formed in 2010 to advise council.

While both Laurier and UW have representation on NSPC, more students need to get informed and maybe even get involved because while there are still a few permanent residents left in Northdale, it is a student-dominated neighbourhood and these decisions being made now about its future affect students more than anyone.

At Monday night’s Waterloo city council meeting, the vision phase of the Northdale Land Use and Community Improvement Plan Study was unveiled. It paints a rosy picture of Northdale’s future as a vibrant, modern community with new, mixed-use buildings and bountiful green space.

While this sounds great as a vision, it does raise some potential concerns for students. First and foremost, what will happen to rent prices in the area if all this development occurs?

For a good indication, one need only look up King Street to the newly opened LUXE apartment buildings. Monthly rent in a five-person apartment works out to around $700 per person. Yet a five person house in Northdale generally costs each tenant around $400 per month. How will students be able to continue living in the neighbourhood if the existing houses are replaced by similar apartment buildings?

Students should not allow decisions on these issues to be made for them or future students. They must question, discuss, debate; something university is supposed to be all about.

—The Cord Editorial Board


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