MUN should use Battery space for retirement housing

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In his April 16 Telegram article: “MUN sorting out vision for Battery Hotel,” Andrew Robinson quoted Roger Greenwood, the executive director for MUN’s office of public engagement: “(But) we want input on how can we best use that space, (the “city-view” wing) who wants to partner and enter the space that isn’t allocated yet. It’s for public engagement.”

And on the mun.ca website on April 24, Cathy Newhook quoted Greenwood as saying “The Battery property is important to this city and we have a strong sense of responsibility to develop it in a way that benefits the city and indeed the whole province. … It is that end goal that will be top of mind as we proceed with a pan-provincial consultation process. We want this facility to be relevant to the people of the province and to be a bridge between the university and the community, and the best way to do that is talk to people and start sharing our vision and generating ideas.”

The Telegram reported on April 24 that a St. John’s session open to the public and aimed at obtaining public consultation and suggestions is scheduled for Thursday, June 12, from 7-9 p.m. at the Johnson GeoCentre.

I write today to encourage people to participate.

Last week I, along with some 25 other residents from the immediate Battery Hotel area, attended a similar consultation session.

Greenwood expanded upon slides available from the website www.mun.ca/battery.

He described the “engagement connections between community and university” demonstrated by groups already assigned space in the Battery, and then outlined identical criteria for self-funded groups who will compete for obtaining space in the “city-view” wing of the building.

These criteria include:

    ‰ Fit with Memorial University public engagement framework

    ‰ Advances Memorial University mission

    ‰ Fit with Battery facility business model

    ‰ Fit with initial tenants’ programming and activities

    ‰ Avoids duplication with surrounding facilities

    ‰ Fit with community/neighbourhood

    ‰ Scale of opportunity (does this service the entire province?)

My immediate suggestion is that unions (such as MUNFA, NAPE and CUPE) and the retired staff and faculty of MUN (MUNPA) come together to propose the development of retirement housing within the city-view wing.

From websites I found descriptions of university campus retirement communities at UBC and the University of Guelph, as well as a prediction that within 20 years there will be retirement communities on 10 per cent of U.S. campuses.  

An article in University Affairs describes development of a retirement community on the campus of UBC — “Retired and the living is easy — on campus.” (www.universityaffairs.ca/retired-and-the-living-is-easy-on-campus.aspx) states “The concept is obviously attractive to universities for its potential revenue generation. And Professor Carle (Andrew Carle, director of the program in assisted living and

senior housing administration at George Mason University, just outside Washington, D.C.) points out that contributions to university endowments may come not only from leasing fees — the way most universities choose to get their revenue from these projects — but also from residents who decide to leave something in their wills for the campus that ends up hosting their last years.

I trust that someone reading my letter will expand upon and refine my suggestion and work to see it come to fruition.

Penny Allderdice  writes from St. John’s.

Organizations: Johnson GeoCentre.I, UBC, Advances Memorial University CUPE University of Guelph University Affairs George Mason University

Geographic location: U.S., Washington, D.C.

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