Opinion | The city council showed its contempt for Toronto tenants during the pension debate. Your inaction in a housing crisis is both insulting and cowardly

After the war, in the 1940s, my late great-aunt Esther moved to Toronto from Nova Scotia as part of a decades-long wave of migration from Atlantic Canada to Ontario. As he was telling the story, he got off the train at Union Station and found a kind of welcome desk that helped newcomers to town. They took her to a boarding house north of Queen and Bathurst streets.

There she rented a room to a woman whose husband was absent for work. She took in young women like my aunt. Later, Aunt Esther would rent another room in the house of a Polish family.

With little money and from a remote fishing village, these guesthouses are how she and many others were able to come to Toronto and Ontario, settle and share and contribute to their prosperity.

Yet to hear from some Toronto city councilors these days, people like Aunt Esther are scary.

For the second time in a few months, the city council decided to delay the legalization and regulation of pensions in Toronto. Also called “multi-tenant homes”, they are currently illegal in most of Toronto, except in the center of the city and some parts of the old city of York and Etobicoke.

During this week’s debate, a “silent majority” was mentioned in the council, referring to a population of Toronto residents who do not want these types of tenants living near them. During a housing crisis, it’s an outrageous opinion, especially since there are already illegal guesthouses operating throughout the city with no way to regulate standards and security for those precarious tenants.

Gary Crawford, Ward 20 Scarborough Southwest Councilman, said his residents felt “threatened” by the proposal to legalize pensions. Scarborough Southwest includes a large number of single-family neighborhoods, but the population of the neighborhood (as of the 2016 census) is 44 percent tenant. Not a majority, but close. Despite all these tenants, I never found this part of the city particularly threatening.

During the first legalization attempt in July, Ward 24 Scarborough-Guildwood Councilman Paul Ainsley also voted against it. Responding to someone on Twitter who said their first home in Toronto was a share house, the only way they could afford to live here, he smugly tweeted: “Congratulations. You have your place … not in the middle of a single-family residence.”

A curious statement given that the legal pensions that exist in Toronto today are located in, wait, single-family residential neighborhoods. Is there a fundamental difference between such similar neighborhoods in old Toronto or Etobicoke from those in Scarborough?

If so, perhaps the next time the councilman says that his residents deserve the same services or amenities as other parts of the city, the answer might be that those things have their place, but not in a single-family development. That would be very bad for 44 percent of District 24 residents who are tenants, mainly in apartments, of course.

On oppose legalizationDenzil Minnan-Wong, District 16 Councilman Don Valley East, said that “fundamentally what we have to talk about is what we don’t talk about enough in this council… the rights of homeowners. The people who invest in this city and who live in stable residential neighborhoods, the people who pay taxes in this city. ”

It is a despicable statement on several fronts. A true advocate for landlords’ rights would allow them to do whatever they want with their properties, but perpetuating the myth that renters don’t pay taxes is simply a lie. Property tax is included in everyone’s rent. Do you think landlords would pay it on behalf of their tenants, out of generosity? They certainly don’t do it for the majority of the 55 percent of Minnan-Wong voters who rent, The silent majority of Don Valley East. No neighborhood is stable either, and many are really losing population.

Despite all this, he is the deputy mayor chosen by Mayor John Tory. Tory, for all her talk about supporting legalization, did not use any of her vast political capital to force a vote in favor of legalization.

Alan Broadbent and Elizabeth McIsaac, chairman of the board and president of the Maytree Foundation anti-poverty charity, respectively, and two prominent members of Toronto’s civil society, issued a brutally worded letter this week. calling the mayor’s and council’s inaction on pensions an embarrassing leadership failure. What’s the use of being mayor or councilor if you don’t lead, they ask?

Why are other bigwigs so quiet? Take Maytree’s lead.

This leadership failure cannot be considered without recalling the violent camp evictions that cost $ 2 million and solved absolutely nothing except a “shock and awe” display of power. At this week’s council meeting in which legalization of the pension was postponed, the council voted overwhelmingly against a judicial investigation into the violence and evictions. If there is nothing to hide, why not investigate?

The pension vote is a cowardly policy, appealing to the loudest elements of Toronto, which is not in my backyard, insulting the 47 percent of Toronto residents who rent, and a prime example of the cowardly and unserious what is this advice. accommodation.


Leave a Comment