They can’t build dormitories fast enough

Larry Newman

What a great title. Finally the U of O is taking responsibility for its students and building dormitories so that we’ll have no more bunkhouses in Sandy Hill. WAIT—that’s not what it means. Reading further, it means that U of O may be decommissioning dormitories as fast as they are being built.

This newspaper has featured many articles about developers building student bunkhouses in our neighbourhood. But, we’re making progress on this problem. I really should not say we because we’ve actually been pretty well defeated by the combined efforts of City planners, the U of O, and the now defunct OMB. It’s the much reviled developers who are helping by building dormitories for U of O students.

It started with the conversion of the former Revera Retirement Residence on 353 Friel, then the Viner development (now the Annex) on Friel and Laurier Avenue East. The U of O Rideau Residence is in the former Quality Hotel at Rideau and King Edward. The Constitution Building at 305 Rideau St. is about to be converted to student housing. Ashcroft has just announced their plan to construct a two- tower, 29-storey building to house 560 students across Rideau Street from Metro. None are owned but some are managed by the University.

This is all wonderful news for Sandy Hill. These buildings will surely take the pressure off the effort to construct bunkhouses in Sandy Hill. Maybe, maybe not. Just three months ago, the University closed Brooks Residence, formerly housing 700+ students. Writes the FULCRUM, [U of O’s student newspaper], “Director of the U of O’s Housing Service, Rachelle Clark, said the campus master plan identified the building as more suited for academic or mixed-use space.” This doesn’t sound like a plan to replace it with a dormitory.

There are three other on-campus dorms like Brooks—which one will go next? The developers giveth and the University taketh away. Sad.