Brescia University College has provided some q&a regarding its plans for construction of a new residence. This is a follow-up and response to the neighborhood meeting that was held on March 10, 2011.
Q. A number of people currently bike through Brescia to work at UWO. The idea of a bike path that goes around the campus was not well received for a few reasons. One is that it is an indirect path and bike riders, like drivers, will take the path of least resistance. A round about way is less likely to be used. Also, like the staff member who was concerned about the out of the way location of the potential “north side” parking lot, the bike path will also be out of the way which makes it less likely to be used later at night. The other concern is that it seems that bike riders would share the new driveway with delivery trucks in the morning. This may not be the case but I and others at the information session were trying to explain where the bike path started, without the benefit of any visuals. You might consider stopping some bike riders in the fall to invite them to a focus group to get their thoughts. Ramsay Road is a well used bike way in the AM rush hour between September and winter and again in the spring.
A. Responsibility to maintain a bike path for neighbourhood use goes beyond Brescia’s mandate but we will do our best to do so to be good neighbours. However, having a focus group to provide additional input would provide real challenges to us from a timing perspective in regards to completing the design. We did pay careful attention to neighbourhood input at our meeting on May 9th. Although the north route is more out of the way, it would certainly be safer from a grading perspective than what is happening now. We are also looking at the possibility of relocating a bike path around Mother St. James, but I think that this might actually be farther, more costly, and a steeper grade. There will only be five or six trucks per day that would be using the same space.
Location of new buildings/parking lot
Q. Due to the loss of trees/green area as well as the massing of buildings along Ramsay Road, residents asked Brescia to consider retaining the existing parking lot and putting the new residence further to the north. This could avoid the need for a rezoning. Another site plan suggestion was putting the dining pavilion on the far west side of the campus and the residence more to the east. This would reduce the distance from the loading area as well as avoiding the massing of a large building on a narrow street. Another suggestion was enlarging the lower parking lot and making the new, larger lot on the east side of Brescia Lane exclusively for those with mobility difficulties. This recognizes the need for a more level site for parking and continuing the buffering between Brescia and the homes on the south side of Ramsay Road.
A. We have gone through careful deliberation about the placement of the buildings for the new residence and dining complex. Of highest concern, in our decision making, has been the cohesiveness of the campus and access for students, the main users of the building and dining hall complex. There isn’t enough space to put the residence further north (due to grades, services, and cost) and we could not have developed the courtyards that we currently have in the present scheme. The dining pavilion is located centrally to provide access to all students/ staff. Placing it further west would isolate it and really just replicate the issue that we have now with our dining room situated in the basement and not very accessible. We are enlarging the lower lot, and the lot to the east of Brescia Lane has been maximized with regard to flat area available. Also, the building will be well set back from Ramsay Road, reducing the impact of massing of the building.
Access to new driveway/loading area
Q. Given how narrow Ramsay Road is, some residents thought it would be difficult for the city to agree to restricting turns in and out of the new driveway as food and beverage delivery trucks may have problems getting in and out of the driveway, particularly in winter, if turn movements are restricted. This also raised the question about how trucks would get out of the driveway – would they be backing up? This would increase the concern that the bike riders have about sharing the road in that location.
A. Trucks will not be backing out of the driveway. Rather they will back into the loading dock and drive out onto Ramsay in the forward direction. We can handle all turning radii on site, so that a left only onto Ramsay is possible.
Q. One of the people at the meeting went to count the trees on the south side of Ramsay where there are 15 trees. He asked, as Brescia promised two trees would be planted for every one cut, where will the 30 or so replacement trees be planted?
Who at Brescia is in charge of tagging trees with silver tags. Some of the trees are being questioned. They may or may not all be Brescia trees.
A. The landscape architect identified the trees to be tagged so that we could be sure that we identified significant trees. Trees that are not Brescia trees should not be tagged but it is possible that some might have been inadvertently tagged. We will not, however, be removing any trees that do not belong to us. It is too early to identify exactly where new trees will be planted.