19 Oct 2017

'Slum' accusation prompts call for dialogue

5:13 pm on 19 October 2017

After a residents association's chair said the area around University of Canterbury was becoming a slum, the group's founder - a former student - has urged productive dialogue.

A typical Ilam street.

A typical Ilam street. Photo: RNZ / Logan Church

Ilam and Upper Riccarton Residents' association chair Phil McGoldrick, a real estate auctioneer, said this week he was concerned by the state of student accommodation in the area.

"If we are not careful as residents in this area ... the area around the university could well start looking like the area around the university in Dunedin," he said.

"That is almost slum-like."

Students spoke out against the claim, saying it was unfair and uncalled for.

Mr McGoldrick said there was no student representative in the residents association, but he would like that to change in the coming academic year.

However, the group's founder Tanja Schwalm was a student at the university when she helped set it up.

Dr Schwalm said the residents association approached the University of Canterbury Students Association (UCSA) in the early 2000s and established a "good rapport" with them.

She hoped this kind of cooperation could happen again.

"Our Ilam community is diverse, and we need to take the needs of all types of residents into account," she said.

"I find it really sad that there is currently no productive dialogue between students and the residents association."

Dr Schwalm said she believed open conversation between the groups could help resolve any issues.

"I would strongly encourage the Ilam and Upper Riccarton Residents' Association to reach out to the UCSA with any concerns, and I would equally encourage the UCSA to have at least one representative on the board of the Ilam and Upper Riccarton Residents' Association," she said.

"Dialogue is hands-down more helpful than public shaming."

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