top of page

The Long Rooming House Pilot Project

I had dozens of conversations about rooming houses this summer with residents, City staff, and my fellow Councillors. Some of you may remember I wrote about this topic in depth at the end of June, just before Council was set to vote on whether or not to make rooming houses legal city-wide. That item was deferred by the Mayor to allow Councillors and staff to make much-needed improvements to the proposal. Well, the time has come and Council will be voting on this item at our upcoming meeting. Let’s take another look at the history of this issue and the changes that have been made to the rooming house licensing proposal. Since the amalgamation of our six legacy cities over twenty years ago, we have been conducting a rooming house pilot. It’s called downtown. By that, I mean that multi-tenanted houses, or rooming houses as most of us know them, have long been licensed downtown and in small parts of Etobicoke and the legacy City of York. Over the past two decades, we’ve learned a lot.

Some buildings downtown have operated as licensed rooming houses for over two decades.

We know that if you license multi-tenant houses in one part of town, as we did downtown, it becomes an open invitation for people to operate outside the law elsewhere in the city. They race to buy properties knowing that Provincial power-of-entry regulations will keep municipal inspectors out. We know that where rooming houses are legal, licensing can be strictly enforced through municipal laws and regular inspections that are built into that law. The illegal housing options in these areas dry up and those who try to operate illegally get reported by the licensed operators. This is what has happened in the downtown core, where illegal rooming houses have been rooted out and only 350 licensed houses remain. We also know that there is serious demand for this type of independent, affordable housing all over Toronto. Wherever this type of housing is offered, whether lawfully or unlawfully, the rooms are occupied. They’re a huge draw to students and newly settled Canadians who need to be close to school or work and require short-term, affordable housing. The biggest thing we’ve learned from this massive pilot project called downtown is that licensing rooming houses creates a far better living situation for neighbouring properties and tenants. Licensing requires the property to be upgraded to meet the Fire Code, and it also makes it cleaner and better secured because the operators don’t have to hide what they’re doing. Regular inspections ensure that the building and property are up to snuff. Most importantly, the tenants become legitimate neighbours who can report their landlords for non-compliance and be protected by authorities. Proper inspection and regulation stabilizes the community. Downtown, Parkdale neighbours have actually created a land trust for licensed rooming houses. They want to keep their well-run, neighbouring rooming houses and ward off condo developers from assembling property. Starting the land trust was no easy feat. These residents persisted because they were certain that legitimate neighbours in gentle density preserved their community’s value.

The Parkdale Neighbourhood Land Trust works to preserve affordable housing, including licensed rooming houses, in their neighbourhood.

These real life scenarios in licensed parts of the city are almost unimaginable for us in North York, where multi-tenanted houses are illegal. Here, tenants are told by illegal landlords to keep their heads down and not talk to anyone about their housing situation or the house will be shut down. Property and building standards are ignored and tenants have no way to secure improvements. Bylaw officers face a great legal challenge in getting inside because they have no City ordinance for regular inspection, no easy power of entry. Even worse, when multiple illegal rooming houses have poor property standards, absentee homeowners in the neighbourhood tend to follow suit and do little to maintain their property. The only way to change this is to put more bylaw officers on the ground, equipped with a strong set of local bylaws they can enforce. This brings me to the new and improved Multi-Tenant Housing Licensing proposal. When this proposal first came to Council, I told you that I would only support it if it was substantially improved and properly resourced. When I took a bold stand like that, I knew I had to be ready to roll up my sleeves and work hard to get those improvements. When the Mayor deferred the decision to allow time to make those changes, I volunteered to sit on the sub-committee over the summer and get it done.

I attended several meetings over the summer with my fellow Councillors and City staff to iron out improvements to the multi-tenant housing proposal.

I want to give a shout out to the Mayor’s staff for pulling these meetings together, along with Municipal Licensing and Standards staff and my Councillor colleague, Jennifer McKelvie. Councillor McKelvie’s ward includes U of T’s Scarborough campus, so her challenges are very similar to what we face here in Don Valley North. The most crucial thing we had to address through this subcommittee was the inadequate funding originally proposed to support this new licensing framework. The budget has been adjusted to include 40 additional staff who will be mobilized for three years to work intensively in the areas that will be introducing licensed multi-tenant houses for the first time. This new staff complement will have a huge impact on our neighbourhoods. The additional bylaw officers on the ground will have a ripple effect in tackling other problems, like those we face with single-tenanted homes and Airbnbs. We’re finally going to get the attention we’ve needed for years, but that has never been funded. We also adjusted the proposal to allow for a maximum of six tenanted rooms per house. Rooms will have to be inspected and brought into full Fire Code compliance as a condition of the license. Parking limits will also be much more specific and be made a condition of the license.

It will continue to be possible to run multi-tenant houses as large as 12 to 25 rooms downtown, in areas zoned apartment/neighbourhood. This makes sense downtown, where apartment neighbourhood zones include large Victorian homes and sometimes large heritage hotels. In our suburban areas, apartment neighbourhoods are made up of high rises and surrounding townhouses which do not lend themselves to anything over six rooms. The proposal also now includes my motion to conduct a comprehensive review of this program at the end of the three year implementation period. This will include consulting with all stakeholders, including neighbours. This review is key. The goal of this entire initiative is to eliminate illegal forms of housing throughout the city. If, at the time of the review, we haven’t eliminated illegal rooming houses and brought compliance and fire safety to all neighbourhoods, then we’ll have to keep up the additional resources we’re allocating to this proposal. The question I’ve continued to receive from residents is, “Why not pilot this in just a couple of places?” This was proposed a few years ago, and Council rejected the idea based on answers from our staff and other experts. A pilot in one area would leave other areas vulnerable to a wave of illegal housing with no resources to fight it. As I mentioned at the outset of this article, that’s largely what’s been happening for the past twenty years. If you make multi-tenanted houses legal in one part of the city and not the others, illegal houses result. I have one goal: To eliminate unsafe and illegal forms of housing in North York. This improved proposal moves us towards that goal.

 

Planning & Growth Update


Growth Funding Tools The City is updating its Growth Funding Tools – the revenue tools that are collected from new development and used to pay for infrastructure and services to meet the needs of our growing population. As constituents, this is an exciting opportunity to learn about the growth funding tools, ask questions, and share your input. What you need to know With more than 3.65 million people calling Toronto home over the next thirty years, we need a plan to pay for our growth today, so our communities can thrive well into the future. This means that as we grow, we’re investing in roads, transit, water and wastewater infrastructure, community centres, parks, childcare and other municipal services. Recently, the Ontario Government enacted changes to how municipalities generate funding from development activity. The changes made through Bill 197 mean that the City must update three primary growth-related funding tools:

  • Development Charges

  • Alternative Parkland Dedication Rate

  • Community Benefits Charges (replaces Section 37 density bonusing)

Why is this project important? When new developments (or redevelopments) help pay for services and growth-related capital costs, this ensures we can create complete, livable and vibrant communities without placing the financial burden for new development on existing taxpayers. The funding collected from the above tools is used to help pay for building and improving the critical infrastructure and services that support residents and businesses like roads, sewers, childcare, libraries, parks, and emergency services. How you can learn more and have your say

  • Visit toronto.ca/growthfundingtools and register for an information session

  • Email the project team with your questions or feedback at: GFT@toronto.ca

I encourage you join a session and get involved as the City’s updates its growth funding tools.

 

City of Toronto #Vax25 Yesterday, the City announced the launch of #Vax25, a COVID-19 vaccination push to promote vaccine clinics in each of the City of Toronto’s 25 wards on Saturday, October 2. The campaign is focused on continuing Team Toronto’s success helping residents get vaccinated. More than 80% of eligible Toronto residents are now fully vaccinated and more than 85% of residents have at least their first dose. Our clinic in Don Valley north will be located at the Shoppers Drug Mart in Galati's Plaza (5899 Leslie St). I'll be stopping by in the afternoon, so please encourage your family and friends who have yet to receive their first or second dose to come by and get vaccinated!

Vaccine Passports Proof of vaccination is now in effect for select non-essential settings in Ontario. If you need to print or download your proof of immunization, you can do so by visiting covid19.ontariohealth.ca or calling the Provincial Vaccine Booking Line at 1-833-943-3900. For more information on the vaccine passport, visit the link below:

 

Correction: In last week's E-Blast, we included a photo of a lawn that was intended to depict overgrown weeds. Some of the plants pictured in the photo are goldenrod, which is in fact a highly beneficial native species for pollinators. Thank you to the residents who diligently pointed out this error.

 


Shelley Carroll

Councillor for Don Valley North

416-338-2650

100 Queen St. W, Suite A3


 

Community Events & Notices

National Day of Truth and Reconciliation

Today, we recognize and observe Orange Shirt Day, and the first National Day of Truth and Reconciliation. Today, and everyday, we need to recommit ourselves to unearthing truth and pursuing meaningful reconciliation with Indigenous peoples. In our own community, Indigenous place making is crucial to honour and create space for the original stewards and caretakers of the land. Ethennonnhawahstihnen’ Park is a first, but crucial, step towards ultimately achieving this goal. I encourage everyone to take some time today to observe the National Day of Truth and Reconciliation. Read the TRC’s 94 Calls to Action, read about Phyllis Webstad’s story, or learn more about your own neighbourhood.

 

New Stop Coming to 953 Steeles East Express Bus

I have exciting news to share. After a year of hard work, we have secured an additional stop for the 953 Steeles East Express Bus at Leslie St. This stop will be functional starting on November 21, 2021. A stop at Leslie St will serve many in the community, including staff who work at the Chartwell Gibson Long Term Care home and students who attend both the Chiropractic College and Zion Heights Middle School. This stop will also provide access to the East Don Parkland and Duncan Creek Trail, allowing more residents to take advantage of our beautiful green spaces here in Don Valley North. Thank you to the residents who raised this issue with me and to TTC staff for their work to be responsive to the needs of our community and create this new stop.

 

PollinateTO Community Grants

Grants of up to $5,000 are available to support community-led projects to create or expand pollinator habitat in Toronto. Projects eligible for funding through PollinateTO include those that:

  • create pollinator gardens and rain gardens on public and private lands, including residential streets, neighbourhoods and school yards

  • enhance or expand existing gardens with native pollinator-friendly plants

Native pollinators are under threat from climate change, habitat loss, and other stressors. You can help by creating a pollinator garden! Learn more and apply by November 1, 2021 at the link below:

 

TRCA October Events

The Toronto and Region Conservation Authority (TRCA) is hosting a number of events in October. These events cover everything from flooding on the Toronto Islands to workshops on transforming wool into cozy knitwear! Visit the link below to view TRCA's October event calendar:

 

Community Environment Days

Do your part to reduce the amount of waste going to landfill. Drop off items for reuse, recycling and safe disposal at Community Environment Days. The City of Toronto is hosting weekly events at Drop-Off Depots on Sundays until October 31. At the events, you will be to drive to different stations to drop off unwanted items for donation and to dispose of batteries, old paint and other household hazardous waste. Free bagged compost will be available with a limit of two bags per vehicle while supplies last. I also wanted to remind everyone that you are able to drop off household hazardous waste at the City's drop-off depots on days other than Community Environment Days. Check out the City's handy map of all drop-off depot locations and hours for more information. A list of event dates and more information about Community Environment Days is available at the link below:

 

MusiCounts Band Aid Progm

Toronto will again be hosting the JUNO Awards in May 2022. MusiCounts is the JUNOS' affiliated charity, focused on making music education inclusive, sustainable, and accessible for youth across Canada by providing musical instruments, equipment, and resources. One of MusiCounts' annual pillars is the Band Aid program, through which under-resourced schools can apply for grants of up to $15,000 that they can spend on musical instruments and equipment at their discretion (including "non-traditional" instruments and equipment used in contemporary genres). Applications are now open until November 25. For more information and to apply, visit the link below:

 

North York Arts: Mental Health Arts Program

North York Arts is currently partnering with Workman Arts on a new collaboration to bring arts programming to North York for participants who identify as having lived experience with mental illness and/or addiction. Arts programming will start in January 2022. They are looking for North York-based community organizations to gather input on your community's perspectives. Input is being gathered via a brief survey (5-10 min) and will be used to support program development. To participate in this survey, visit the link below:

 

Toronto Non-Profit Recognition Day

There are more than 14,000 nonprofits in Toronto—they are at the forefront of combatting COVID-19 and serving residents across the city. They are also essential to our recovery. On Tuesday, October 5, join the Toronto Nonprofit Network and the City of Toronto in marking the contributions of grassroots groups, collectives, and nonprofits for Toronto Nonprofit Recognition Day.

 

Catch Basin Clearing

During fall, many catch basins (also know as sewer grates) become clogged with leaves and other debris. City crews clear catch basins in expected problem locations as well as areas around bus stops, crosswalks and key intersections. Residents are asked to help by clearing debris from the catch basins in front of their homes to allow water to drain off the road. Clearing these catch basins can make all the difference in prevent flooding on your street during heavy rainfall. As you do your fall yard work, please take a moment to clear the catch basin in front of your home. If your street has ongoing issues with flooding and repeatedly clogged catch basins, you can contact 311 or get in touch with my office for support.

 

TTC: Upcoming Closures

Subway Closures:

  • Line 1 (Yonge-University) – St. Clair to King Stations (Both Ways) Early Nightly Closure – September 27 to September 30 (closes at 11:00 PM)

  • Line 1 (Yonge-University) – Sheppard-Yonge to Bloor-Yonge (Both Ways) Full Weekend Closure – October 2 and October 3

  • Line 2 (Bloor-Danforth) – Kipling to Islington (Both Ways) Full Weekend Closure – October 9 and October 10

For more information, visit the link below:



Comentarios


bottom of page