Some McMaster students still in temporary housing due to ongoing water issues

Click to play video: 'Students demand action from McMaster University as new residency faces unsafe conditions amid construction'
Students demand action from McMaster University as new residency faces unsafe conditions amid construction
Students living in a new residency at McMaster University say they are being plagued by poor water quality, bug infestations and more unsafe conditions. The slew of problems comes amid ongoing construction work, and has triggered tenants to pen a collective letter demanding action from the institution – Dec 7, 2023

Despite residents temporarily living away from their downtown suites on Bay Street, executives with McMaster University believe they’re on a “strong path” to fully resolving water quality issues that have plagued the building.

In a Thursday communication with residents, the institution said water samples collected from most floors are clear of coliform bacteria. However, another round of targeted chlorination will still be needed on Tuesday to eliminate bacteria on all floors.

“Impacted residents have been notified about temporary relocation plans and we appreciate their ongoing understanding, ” the university’s Housing & Conference Services said in an update.

A university spokesperson said 23 of the 247 residents living in the building will be affected by ongoing relocation.

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Bottled water is still on offer to building residents until the issue is fully resolved.

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Students living in the dwelling have been demanding action since late fall when construction caused a slew of problems: electrical outages, a bug infestation and contaminated water.

In December, the group outlined their concerns in a letter to the university, demanding partial rent refunds and an external third-party hazard review.

McMaster’s media relations manager Wade Hemsworth previously told Global News challenges for the residents at 10 Bay were ongoing and the university was working “as quickly as possible” with its construction partners to address all concerns.

In a January release, the university said a “full-building chlorination process” had to happen to clean out water supply pipes, in-unit plumbing and other fixtures.

Tenants were required to temporarily move to a nearby hotel in early February for a week.

Hotel bills and the cost of meals purchased with $100 gift cards were picked up by the university over the six days.

Grad student and co-chair of the tenants union at 10 Bay Connor Galloway told Global News on Tuesday he was “disappointed” to hear test samples are still coming back positive for coliform on some floors.

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“It’s just been very stressful to not know if we have clean drinking water, if the showers and things are still safe” Galloway said. “Especially as the school year is really kicking up.”

He says many students are still using the free water jugs and bottled water being offered by the university.

Admittedly, he says university management have been “generous” with recent rent reductions amid the ongoing inconvenience.

Hemsworth says the university hopes to share “more positive news” when another update is given to residents on Feb. 21.

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