Canada cracks down on rooming houses, but the issue is raging nationwide

In the face of a major housing crisis, there are few more bizarre directions to head than regulating rooming houses. Toronto Mayor John Tory had hoped to speed up the process by enacting a…

Canada cracks down on rooming houses, but the issue is raging nationwide

In the face of a major housing crisis, there are few more bizarre directions to head than regulating rooming houses.

Toronto Mayor John Tory had hoped to speed up the process by enacting a policy on how to manage the controversial sector, long outlawed in Canada. But the measure became a political white knuckle in the face of fierce opposition.

The Downtown Toronto BIA, a key constituent of Tory’s so-called recovery team, has pressed for years to have rooming houses regulated to serve as a more affordable form of rental housing. Tory spoke at a Toronto International Film Festival conference on the issue in January and an executive order, issued on Friday, outlines a public consultation on housing modelation to examine the particulars of how rooming houses currently operate in the city.

To no one’s surprise, though, Tory was greeted with initial protest from real estate and Toronto’s powerful real estate sector. Rooming houses are frequently part of larger groups of houses, or considered to be basements or sub-divisions, which, as owner-occupiers, can result in rules of inclusion and lengthy security applications.

It took longer than any of us thought, but there are some million Canadians living in these houses John Tory

His plan, proposed as a six-page executive order, added a 653-page “draft consultation” document to the council agenda as part of a general hearing. By mid-day Friday, after multiple hours of argument and delay, it was passed by a record 98-61.

“To no one’s surprise, though, Tory was greeted with initial protest from real estate and Toronto’s powerful real estate sector,” said Chris Sands, a former councillor who studies Toronto city politics for the Hudson Institute in Washington. “Rooming houses are frequently part of larger groups of houses, or considered to be basements or sub-divisions, which, as owner-occupiers, can result in rules of inclusion and lengthy security applications.

“It took longer than any of us thought, but there are some million Canadians living in these houses, and that’s why it took such a long time,” he said.

Leave a Comment