New city by-law to restrict student housing

On Wednesday March 11, the Mississauga City Council will vote on whether or not to accept a number of changes to zoning by-law 0225-2007, which includes altering the definition of a Lodging House or Unit. This move will significantly reduce the amount of available student housing in the city, according to University of Toronto Mississauga Student Union VP Joey Santiago, making off-campus residence an unaffordable option for many.

The [proposed] definition of a Lodging House means that a house in Mississauga cannot have more than three individuals renting in it, explained Santiago. Also, only a detached home can be a Lodging House, and furthermore all lodging houses must be 500 metres away from each other.

The Planning and Development Committee Report on these changes states that not more than four Lodging Units will be allowed in a single Lodging House, that they must be 120 meters (400 feet) away from one another, and that they should be detached in ideal circumstances.

The City of Mississauga is attempting to crack down on illegal and unsafe rooming houses in the city, as well as implement an Affordable Rental Housing Strategy (ARHS). As part of those efforts, several definitions need to be changed. A single-family detached is now simply referred to as detached, for example, and the defining features of each — in legal terms — will be altered as well. The need for definitions to be distinct from one another is important because unsafe housing is currently justified under vague and overlapping housing definitions, according to the report.

Any new Lodging Houses proposed within Mississauga will be forced to undergo a review by the city, in order to assess the appropriateness of each by how well they meet certain criteria, such as proximity to public transit. While the objective of the city in trying to improve tenant safety and liveability is admirable, the question of student housing costs and availability does not appear to have been adequately addressed or safeguarded.

According to Santiago, Ward 8 Councillor Katie Mahoney has been pushing for these changes since September, and students at UTM were completely left out of the loop.

Mayor Hazel McCallion sympathized with us [being left in the dark] and stresses that this is only a shortterm solution, promising a long-term solution in the future, added Santiago. Councillor Mahoney could not be reached by The Medium as of press time to confirm or deny this.

Caught in the middle, students themselves may be the ones to suffer if they are faced with housing problems in the short-term, and it is not clear what options will be available to them if there are fewer rentals available next year.

UTM currently does not have the capacity for any more housing if there is a shortage, residence at UTM always has an enrolment close to its capacity, warned Santiago. Furthermore, the financial difficulties that Mississauga is currently experiencing suggests that money for the ARHS may dry up if the economy continues to decline and the city continues to need more money for other priorities.