Mississauga adopted proposed changes to the planning and development by-laws in the city last Wednesday, which means that UTM students will face increasing difficulty when looking for affordable housing close to school in the near future.
Spearheaded by Ward 8 Councillor Katie Mahoney at the Planning and Development Committee meeting on March 2, the proposed changes deemed necessary in order to facilitate the citys new Affordable Rental Housing Strategy, as well as to prevent condo-type townhouse units from being converted into multi-unit lodging houses.
UTM is a major asset to the city and community, and we have an obligation to provide safe and affordable housing, she said in an interview with The Medium. The student population has increased dramatically in recent years, which has led to unsafe lodging houses in the area. Although students are not the only ones guilty of bad behaviour, these areas tend to attract various negative social elements.
That area (Sir John Homestead) is a real problem; the community has real issues with some of the people who live there, Mahoney bluntly stated. She cited examples of latenight parties, vandalism, graffiti and litter, as well as drug activity occurring there and how it is impacting other families in the neighbourhood in a negative way.
She was quick to say not every student is a problem, but there have been real issues with some of the students there, stressing that the University and its students are a valuable asset to the community. However, she seemed to remain steadfast in her belief that at least some students were responsible for complaints by the community.
When asked about VP Joey Santiago’s remarks in last weeks issue of The Medium regarding students being left out of the consultation process, Councillor Mahoney pointed out that “letters were sent out to every residence, there was advertising, and Dean Mark Overton was involved from the first meeting.” She added that the UTMSU was notified of the by-law changes, but “did not seem very interested at the time.”
Speaking about the Affordable Rental Housing Strategy (ARHS) that is being implemented with these changes, Mahoney assured The Medium that there is some money already set aside in the 2009 budget to fund ARHS, and that the city is committed to making sure that students can find accommodations. “There are two parts of this process, the zoning and planning changes, and the new licensing system,” she explained.”We are currently doing a study to look at options [for housing].”
Some existing rental units will be grandfathered, or allowed to continue operating according to old rules for a time period, but these will eventually be forced to comply with the new licensing that is being reviewed by the city right now.
There will be a meeting on Wednesday April 1 to deal with the licensing, and Mahoney has invited UTMSU and all UTM students who are interested to attend. “I am sure that we can work together to air the issues and find solutions, she added.
Revised bylaw extract Lodging House” means a dwelling unit containing more than three (3) lodging units each designed or intended for the lodging of persons in return for remu neration.
A lodging house shall only be permitted in a detached dwelling and no lodging unit shall be con tained in a basement.
A maximum of four (4) lodging units shall be per mitted within a lodging house and each lodging unit shall be occupied by a maximum of one (1) per son.
A maximum of 40% of the Gross Floor Area — Residential of a Lodging House shall contain Lodging Units.