I am a life-long resident of Ainslie Wood and regular reader of your paper. Scott Hastie's editorial about the relationship between McMaster students, councillor Aidan Johnson and the communities around Mac makes some good points about the need for greater communication between the MSU and City Hall. However, some of the points Hastie makes are inaccurate and unfair.

For example, he slams Johnson for his alleged "belief that there can be too many people from a certain demographic in one area." That sounds discriminatory against students. But is it wrong to want our neighbourhoods to be diverse, as opposed to a monoculture? There are many areas of Ainslie Wood and Westdale where only Mac students live. 99% of residents in these areas are between the ages of 17 and 30. No children or early teens live in these areas. No senior citizens live there. No full-time workers live there. No recent immigrants live there. No families. I personally like having students as neighbours. Some have become friends. But if more houses on our street are turned into student houses (many of which are illegal firetraps), this will no longer be a good place for us to raise our young kids. The student monoculture will have forced another family out of the area. Is that what Hastie wants?

Secondly, Hastie claims that Ainslie Wood and Westdale residents have opposed high-density student complexes on Main Street West. That is incorrect. There has only been only such project completed -- the West Village Suites near Dundas -- and that was widely supported by the community. Recent proposals for student complexes to be built on Main at Traymore Avenue and at Longwood have met no resistance. Neither the Ainslie Wood community association nor the Westdale community association has opposed any of these projects. The controversial Leland Street project mentioned by Hastie -- which violated zoning and planning bylaws and was rejected unanimously by Hamilton's elected councillors, then allowed by the unelected Ontario Municipal Board -- was opposed by long-term residents and the Ainslie Wood Community Association because it is located well south of Main Street and will likely set a precedent for allowing more projects that violate Hamilton's zoning and planning bylaws.

Finally, I believe that Aidan Johnson and the vast majority of long-term residents around Mac are well aware that absentee landlords, not students, are the reason why more by-law officers are needed. Fines for improperly maintained properties will be paid by landlords, not (as Hastie incorrectly states) by students. Nobody wants students to "get lost," as Hastie claims, nor are long-term residents interested in getting money from students. We know that tuition only covers a portion of a student's total educational costs, the rest coming from non-student taxpayers -- many of whom live near Mac.

Most long-term Ainslie Wood and Westdale residents believe that Mac students are a blessing. You make this area more lively and support local businesses, among other benefits. But like all good things, there can be too much, reducing social diversity. A student monoculture dominating the neighbourhoods around Mac, forcing out other groups, is not good for anyone. Although Hastie is right to call for improvements in communication between students and City Hall, many of his other arguments are inaccurate and unfair. Councillor Johnson is doing a good job in handling the complex issue of student-community relations and, I believe, has a positive and progressive vision for our shared community.

Mark Coakley / Ainslie Wood /

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