Lodging Houses

I am opening a new blog heading about Lodging Houses.  There has been a lot of discussion on this topic lately in Ward 5.  Let’s open the dialogue….

But first, here is some background on why, how and where we have Lodging Houses:

http://guelph.ca/living.cfm?smocid=1886

To start the discussion, here is a post added to the W5 blog this morning (followed by my response).

From Walter:

Lodging House Issue Ward 5

Quick question…..why will Ward 5 Councillors not take a position on the Ward 5 Lodging House issue currently facing the City of Guelph – as per the meeting at City Hall March 11th, 2009?

It would seem Ward 5 Councillors either need to support the residents of Ward 5 or disapprove of their actions.

My response:

Hi Walter – that’s a fair question. I hope the answer below helps to set the record straight.

Your question is really two questions:

1) Do I support the neighbourhood in their opposition of the case-specific 29 Hands Drive application?
2) Do I support the neighbourhood in amending the by-laws of the city to protect and preserve quality of life in residential neighbourhoods?

The first question is one I cannot, will not and should not answer. It’s not that I don’t want to — I just can’t and won’t — sorry about that. It is a case-specific dispute related to two applicants and the legal interpretation of the Lodging House certification process. A councillor should never take a public position on a matter of potential litigation between two property owners. It would be inappropriate and unwise. It compromises the city and city staff. I have no authority (and neither does Council) to negate a staff decision on a matter within their delegated jurisdiction.

The second question I am quite comfortable to answer. I absolutely support the neighbourhood in recommending changes to any and all city by-laws that will further enhance the protection of quality of life in our residential neighbourhoods. I have stated this publicly on several occasions.

I am currently working directly with the Rickson Ridge neighbourhood group and city staff to recommend improvement in the enforcement of noise, parking and property standards by-laws. This small working group has come up with some very constructive ideas to make some positive changes.

I also believe that (as a result of the current Hands Drive situation) we have identified several potential deficiencies in the implementation of our Lodging House certification process and the wording of our Shared Rental Housing policies. These need to be addressed. I support the neighbourhood in this action and will follow through with my commitment at the March 11th meeting to bring this matter to Council through the appropriate political and administrative process. This does not mean that I support throwing out the by-law. Well-run, well-maintained, well-spaced, legal, certified, lodging houses have a place in our city.

I do understand the sentiments in your neighbourhood. My initiation into municipal politics was as a neighbourhood activist dealing with a rezoning application for a high density off-campus student residence. I have four lodging houses within two blocks of my house, where my husband and I are raising a family. I know what a good lodging house and a bad lodging house look like and what impact they can have on a neighbourhood — good and bad.

On a related note, I have serious concerns about the proliferation of “four-up-two-down” houses that can legally exist on a whole street,without any separation distance. We, as a Council, need to look at this concurrently with potential amendments to the Lodging House certification process.

I hope this answers your question(s). I am happy to continue the dialogue with you and your neighbourhood and look forward to some positive solutions.

Leanne