By: William Li

Off-campus housing options may soon be getting a boost, as both McMaster University and private developers are pursuing residential projects in response to growing student housing needs.

Traditionally, on-campus residence space is mostly reserved for first-year students, with upper-year and graduate students being responsible for their own housing off-campus. As a result, many neighborhoods surrounding McMaster have become saturated with students, and many homes originally intended for families have been converted into student houses.

In response to growing student demand for off-campus housing, two private developers are planning to build student-oriented residential buildings. Laborer’s International Union of North America is planning to construct a multi-storey residential building in downtown Hamilton aimed at students. Rose Sorce, speaking on behalf of LiUNA, said that downtown would “probably be the best place to put student housing… “Downtown is centrally located, where you can take a bus … and get to both Mohawk or Mac within 5-10 minutes.”

According to the CBC Hamilton, another developer has been taking a closer look at McMaster, by purchasing homes along Traymore Avenue with the intention of turning the block of land between the McMaster University Medical Centre and Dalewood Recreation Centre into a residential building located just across the street from campus.

McMaster University itself is also looking into off-campus housing solutions, and over the summer sought out a private developer willing to design and build the university’s first residence building for graduate students. McMaster is planning to have this project built downtown, to ensure graduate students will have easy access to McMaster’s Jackson Square offices and the David Braley Health Sciences Centre.

Responses from students have been mixed,.

Many expressed concern that commuting from the proposed downtown residences would be inconvenient, though a proposed light rail transit line awaiting reaffirmation from Hamilton City Council aims to improve transit access between McMaster and downtown Hamilton.

“I would infinitely prefer to be in Westdale, or somewhere close to campus, rather than in a tower downtown,” said Liam Crummey, a medical student at McMaster. “I love Westdale, I love living so close to campus, especially the fact that I can walk to campus is a huge benefit. And I just like the neighbourhood, I like being able to go for a run in Cootes, I like being able to go to all the little shops in Westdale — it’s a nice place.”

However, for second-year Arts & Science student Amy Chen, who lives off-campus after residing in Wallingford Hall during her first year, the possibility of more housing options beyond the typical student house was a big draw.

“In my house-hunting there’s been landlords that require applications and personal references,” said Chen. “They also frequently make rooms extra small or make the living room a bedroom.”

In reference to the proposed development on Traymore Avenue, Chen added, “I definitely would [consider it] … I think that this option sounds much nicer than normal student housing.”

The proposed housing projects are all still currently being planned. Once completed, they will provide students with more off-campus housing options.

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