Editorial: Brock students vs family residential areas

Brock students at a 500+ person street party on St. Patrick’s Day this year. / St. Catharines Standard

In a time where Niagara is trying to move forward as a region where young families can enjoy the area and raise their children, the battle with university students continues.

Cities such as London, Waterloo-Kitchener and Guelph are three common places in Ontario that have had a history of problems between families and student populated areas. St. Catharines has for many years seen areas around the city populated with students, however only recently have students began to migrate into Thorold, due to the new homes being constructed in the Winterberry Boulevard area.

In fact, for the second time in 2017 St. Catharines and Thorold homeowners have complained about large parties being held in their housing areas. Back in March, Jacobson Avenue in St. Catharines, saw close to 500 students partying on St. Patrick’s Day — the street was left in a mess and Brock University staff and volunteers helped clean up the street.

The same incident occurred this past weekend, as Brock hosted its annual Homecoming. It’s estimated another 500 students were partying on Winterberry, and one resident said via Facebook that students were “smashing beer bottles”. Police did eventually arrive and the party was shut down.

Mountainview Homes, a building company that has constructed over 4,000 homes in the Niagara area, according to their Facebook Page, is the building company to construct the Winterberry area. Per the same Facebook user that described the weekend scene, she was told by Mountainview when purchasing her home that the newly constructed area was going to be for “single family homes”. Instead, homes have been bought by investors and now rented to students leading to an area mixed with students trying to enjoy the university lifestyle and young families.

The two issues that have been raised from St. Patrick’s Day and Homecoming this year can’t be blamed on home construction companies. It’s Mountainview’s job to sell their homes and it’s the homebuyers job to do the research about the area. Brock has been doing its part to grow student-interest from across Ontario and even internationally, so student-homes are going to become a necessity and investors have taken advantage with the Winterberry area.

Homeowners shouldn’t expect anything less than areas ranging from St. Catharines, Thorold and Welland to be populated with students. New homes equals a greater opportunity to investors as much as it is a great opportunity for young couples and families. Weekends like St. Patrick’s Day and Homecoming will see big parties, in every university town — that can’t and won’t be changed. It’s a social norm.

What can change, of course, is students being more responsible and law enforcement being more aware on these major weekends.

After St. Patrick’s Day, The Brock Press received a message from a woman about her troubles trying to drive down Jacobson Avenue due to it being blocked by students. For this woman and other locals, there were other routes to take than to travel down a blocked road.

Now, students shouldn’t break beer bottles or slam on people’s doors. Students should also avoid stepping on the property of homeowners who want nothing to do with the parties. However, St. Catharines, Thorold and Welland will need to be shared by both young families and students. Large parties are a university norm.

But students should really do their best to be respectable and try to keep the mess to a minimum to allow for any chance of partying in the area to continue without law enforcement having to keep a bigger target on these resident areas.


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