Published on November 30, 2016 | by Aastha Shetty Photography by Shaee Martin3
Toronto councilor: illegal student houses are disrupting the peace in Rexdale
Students are renting illegal rooming houses to compete with a lack of alternatives according to one Toronto city councilor.
Some residents of the Etobicoke area have serious concerns regarding the increase in illegal rooming houses and blame the growing population of students.
The city of Toronto defines a rooming house as a building that is occupied by more than three unrelated people, with shared kitchen and sanitary facilities. Rooming houses are required to have a license to be able to operate legally.
“By large, students are great. It’s just a small group, I guess, but there are issues. I’ve had people call and tell me that they can’t sleep, that they’ve got young children and [they are] afraid to let them play outside,” Councilor Vincent Crisanti, who represents his area in Ward 1 (Etobicoke) said. “People say that allegedly, students are walking down the street, drinking beers and causing issues in the community.”
However, in an annual housing review by the city of Toronto, researchers found that the residents of Etobicoke “have expressed far less concern about illegal rooming houses.”
Regardless, Etobicoke resident Wanda Wloch said that rooming houses are a great problem in the area. She said she has seen students walking around drunk, and that they are notorious for disturbing the peace.
A student who requested to remain anonymous because he fears reprisals from the community doesn’t believe “the people disturbing the peace” are students.
“I live in an illegal house, where am I supposed to go if they kick us out?” he said.
Other students took to a Facebook page called Spotted at Humber, and said that they would like to see rooming houses regulated in another way.
“I really don’t see college students out late at night drunk, not unless they want to get mugged or stabbed,” Guelph-Humber student Taylor Clysdale wrote.
Humber student Taylor Renwick said that “having random police inspections for student housing sounds like [something from] 1984,” referring to the dystopian novel by George Orwell, that dabbles with the idea of the government scrutinizing human action as a “Big Brother.”
Renwick compared that to Crisanti’s suggestions for a new policy to “crack-down” on illegal rooming houses.
The councilor believed the college “has the land to make more residence space. If the college doesn’t take steps to acknowledge that they’re growing, then we need to do something about that.”
Crisanti said the solution is to do random checks on rooming houses in the Etobicoke area. He said that even though students may find it controversial, random police checks will ensure they have a safe environment to live in.