Waterloo neighbourhoods divided

In the case of the day-to-day conflicts of living in student neighbourhoods, where students and non-students both live and interact on a daily basis, I would fundamentally agree with the fact that these living situations are not always ideal.

Families and other non-students need to accept that in student neighbourhoods there will be a greater degree of noise, rowdiness and all-night revelry than in a calm family neighbourhood.

Zoning laws need to be redefined to prevent the continued encroachment of rowdy, loud student homes into family neighbourhoods. This influx has redefined the character of previously quiet and idyllic neighbourhoods where it was once possible to maintain a normal family existence without witnessing routine instances of drunken partying and late night loudness in your midst.

The city needs to clearly define the boundaries of the “student ghetto” and needs to prevent the increasing prevalence of rented homes for students outside this zone to the point where the character of previously family-oriented neighbourhoods are becoming fundamentally changed.

The idea of “mixed-use neighbourhoods” with roughly equal numbers of students and non-students is a foolishly idealistic notion based in naiveté, and is a fundamental denial of basic reality and social conditions.

The fact is, students will always keep partying at absurdly late hours of the night, and will always make tons of noise while doing so, regardless of how many bylaw violation fines they receive.
A better solution would be to clearly designate where the student neighbourhoods are, and to allow for a more lax bylaw code within those designated student areas, for matters such as noise and drinking.

Simultaneously, the bylaws could be enforced even more strictly than they currently are, outside these defined areas. Much like the concept of a “red light district,” this system of two different sets of bylaws by neighbourhood would allow both parties to win. The only people who would be hurt by this arrangement would be non-students living within clearly defined student neighbourhoods.

Density in student neighbourhoods should also be increased, rather than simply expanding the “student ghetto” indefinitely as numbers grow. Neighbourhoods that still have a chance of remaining livable family neighbourhoods, such as the area north of Columbia Street, between Albert and King Street, should not be designated as student areas, and should have strict bylaw enforcement.

Non-student designated neighbourhoods would not necessarily have to be forbidden to student rentals per se, but would be subject to the more strict imposition of bylaws. There could also potentially be a specific section of the student area in which bylaws are more strongly enforced, just like the non-student designated parts of Waterloo, geared toward those students who do not abide by a party lifestyle or who do not wish to live surrounded by one.

On the flipside, of course non-students wouldn’t be banned from living in designated student neighbourhoods, but they would have to accept the different social reality they are experiencing by living there. This way, we can avoid situations like in the neighbourhood south of Columbia, between Albert and King Streets, which is essentially a war-zone between students and non-students.
In this neighbourhood, a constant war of attrition occurs with the students invading more and more, and conquering increased territory until they will gradually convert the entire neighbourhood into a student ghetto.

When I look at the houses, it is clear to me that this was a neighbourhood designed for families, not drunken people vomiting on sidewalks at 3 a.m. Frankly put, the disruption of family life here makes me incredibly sad. It is also saddening that students in clearly student-oriented neighbourhoods are forced to abide by overly strict noise bylaws to accommodate the select few non-student households in a sea of students.

It is unfair that students should be subject to the whims of stubborn households who astutely try to maintain an unrealistically quiet existence in a neighbourhood that is clearly dominated by students.
As nice as the idea of “mixed-use neighbourhoods” may sound, students and families simply cannot coexist in large numbers. The lifestyles are too different. Thus, the laws should be changed to reflect this paradigm and to better accommodate people on both sides of the issue.
letters@thecord.ca

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