Westdale hosts mix of students and permanent residents, providing a campus-town feel. Yet along with that comes a frustration from both groups, as students want to experience the freedom of being away from home and residents seek a quiet and clean environment.
While resident reactions to this past Welcome Week vary depending on the street, community events like PJ Parade and Community Clean-Up have given students a stronger first impression of the community entering the school year.
However, it is through the school year that tensions can build up.
Kenneth Moyle is a 12-year homeowner in Westdale and a board member of Ainslie Wood Westdale Community Association (AWWCA), an advocacy group for permanent residents in the community. He cites the two main concerns of residents as being loud noise and messy properties.
“McMaster and undergraduate life are part of Westdale. When you live in Westdale, you’re living around families, just as you did at home. The same rules of common courtesy still apply now that you are in a house of your own.”
While not all student houses are disruptive, the inconsiderate behaviour of a few can put a bad label on all student houses. Still, Moyle insists it would be hard to find residents who want all the students to go away.
The McMaster Students Union, conscious of the relationship between students and Westdale residents, runs a service called the Student Community Support Network (SCSN) to help develop a sense of community in the Westdale area.
Erika Richter is this year’s SCSN Coordinator and organizes the Resident Buddy and Snow Angels programs, which provide students with volunteer opportunities to connect to residents. These programs complement Hamilton 101 and By-Law 101 initiatives that teach students about common considerations of living off-campus.
The programs keep Westdale a balanced neighborhood, Richter says, and keeps conflicts from developing. She urges students to experience the city and get to know the community, as this will enrich the student experience and provide a different perspective on student life.
“When you make an effort to be a good neighbour, you’re helping to keep Westdale a place where students and permanent residents want to live,” said Moyle, “and what you do can effect Westdale and McMaster for years to come.”