City council passes housing bylaw

On Monday May 9th, The City of Waterloo held yet another open city council meeting discussing an updated rental housing licensing program and city bylaw. However, rather than prolonging a final decision once again, after a three hour discussion the new city bylaw was passed.

Effective on April 1st, 2012 most homeowners will have a rental limit of three bedrooms per house. Though the bylaw does have exceptions enabling a four-bedroom limit, depending on the type of house, a landlords licensing class, namely Class A and B houses, and many other specifications detailed in the 63-page report.

This will also mean a rise in rental prices throughout Waterloo depending on the type and size of house a person or people may choose to live in.

Barbara Hall of the Ontario Human Rights Commission was present on Monday night and took her turn to voice her opinions. She began by saying that the city had taken many positive steps in altering the bylaw when human rights concerns were raised but that there were still ways in which it could be improved.

“If limiting the bedrooms to a three-room maximum was done because of safety, you would then also need to do this to other houses in the city. They deserve safety too. And what about large families choosing to rent in Waterloo?” She said. “The 2006 census stated that most households contained five or more people. Now you’re creating barriers to these families.”

She continued to say that, “The bedroom size limits proposed does not allow people to share a bedroom, and people should be able to do so without the city questioning them. They should be able to live without the city peeking through the keyhole.”

Hall also brought attention to the rumour that the bylaw was created to control the students from both local Universities. “Is the city trying to solve an alleged student problem? “ She asked. “Because doing so is a breach of the human rights code. We should be able to live, study, work and play without barriers.”

However, Waterloo mayor, Brenda Halloran also wanted to make clear to concerned students that, “the city looks forward to working with the students of both the University of Waterloo and Laurier to make this by-law the most effective.”

The full report, along with an FAQ, can be viewed on the city’s website.

Check back with or pick up our May 15th issue for more coverage and reaction to this new bylaw