Legal action is being threatened against the University College of the North over a student housing project slated for its new Thompson campus. The $82 million project to build a UCN campus in the downtown of the northern Manitoba city is to include a student family complex with 24 units of three or four bedrooms. Currently the site is home to several recreational facilities, such as baseball stadiums, a community centre and a shooting range, at least some of which would be displaced by the housing complex. A group of 15 Thompson residents, who want to keep the recreational space, are alleging that city council did not follow zoning guidelines outlined in municipal bylaws.
The residents have sought legal council from a Winnipeg lawyer and are hoping to use as yet unspecified legal means to have the housing project built elsewhere. The housing complex is expected to be finished before the campus itself which is scheduled to be opened 2013. Wayne Hall, one of the residents opposed to the project, told the Winnipeg Free Press that he is concerned that the proposed residence is “a low-income subsidized housing project” that may not ultimately be tied to UCN. “If there’s a change in government, there’s no commitment in writing to build this university,” he said.
The city says its zoning by-laws were followed and that the project will definitely be part of the university campus. “We’re open to displacing some of that recreational space, that’s the reality. We want to say unequivocally, ‘Hey, this site is now a UCN campus,’ ” deputy mayor Harold Smith said in the Free Press.