October 22, 1999
To: Toronto Community Council
From: Executive Director/Chief Building Official, South District
Executive Director/Chief Planner
Executive Director, Municipal Licensing and Standards
General Manager, Shelter, Housing and Support Division
Subject: Parkdale Conflict Resolution Process
(Ward 19 - High Park)
The purpose of this report is to update Council on the status of the Parkdale conflict mediation process; to propose an
approach to resolving the bachelorette housing issues, and, to seek Council direction to convene a Public Meeting to
discuss the recommendations of this report.
Financial Implications and Impact Statement:
Since the establishment of the Parkdale Pilot Project Group would require the allocation of $410,000 per annum for two
years to fund the creation and operation of the Project, this report should be referred to the Commissioners of Urban
Planning and Development Services, and Community and Neighbourhood Services, the Chief Financial Officer and the
Budget Advisory Committee as per the "Financial Control Protocols within the Revised Council-Committee Structure"
which was adopted by Council.
It is recommended that Council:
1. approve, in principle, recommendations 1 to 18 in Section 4 of this report;
2. defer recommendation 19 in Section 4 of this report to the Toronto Community Council meeting of December 2, 1999,
pending the conclusion of on-going discussions with stakeholders;
3. authorize staff to convene a Public Meeting to present the recommended approach;
4. direct staff to report further on the detailed staffing and financial implications of implementing this approach; and,
5. refer this report to the Commissioners of Urban Planning and Development Services, Community and Neighbourhood
Services, and the Chief Financial Officer for consideration during the 2000 Operating Budget process.
At its meeting of October 14, 1998, Toronto Community Council convened a Public Meeting to consider a report from the
Commissioner of Urban Planning and Development Services that included the following recommendations:
(1) creation of a conflict resolution process to achieve consensus on the appropriate approach the City should take to the
existing bachelorettes and illegal rooming houses in South Parkdale;
(2) Zoning By-law 438-86, as amended, be further amended so as to limit the creation of units or rooms, through
conversion or new construction, to three per lot.
At the same time, the City Solicitor submitted a draft by-law to implement the latter recommendation.
A number of deputants spoke to Community Council, expressing concerns that the proposed zoning limited the future
development of affordable rental units but did not legalize the existing bachelorette units. Other deputants supported the
three-unit limit saying that much of the area had already been redeveloped to more than three units. They requested that the
bachelorettes not be legalized without meeting appropriate standards.
Council subsequently endorsed the creation of the conflict resolution process and the appointment of a facilitator
acceptable to all groups. At the request of the Ward Councillors, the proposed new zoning was not approved but was
included in the mandate of the conflict resolution process.
Mediators Comments and Tenant Participation
The groups and individuals involved in this process gave generously of their time because of their concern about the issues.
Hours of phone calls and weekend and evening meetings were spent learning about and exploring solutions for housing
issues in Parkdale. Unfortunately, a lack of administrative resources slowed the process and taxed the patience of the
The lack of resources highlighted the importance of providing appropriate funding and resources to implement the
recommendations. The groups involved feel strongly that adopting the recommendations without appropriate funding to
follow through could make the current situation in Parkdale worse.
The recommendations in this report carefully balance the needs of the groups involved. Changing or removing any of the
recommendations will damage the effectiveness of the report and disrupt the consensus that has emerged.
Council wanted this conflict resolution process to include the issue of existing illegal rooming houses in Parkdale. Due to
insufficient resource support the group was not able to properly address the issue of illegal rooming houses, though some
of the recommendations could be applied. This form of housing has been identified by City inspectors, tenants, service
providers, and residents' groups as a much more serious issue than the illegal bachelorettes. From the outset, we did not
have appropriate representation from the rooming house sector. The group is firm in its conviction that rooming houses
must be dealt with as a continuing part of this process, within a global City housing policy.
The perspectives of tenants were very important in this process. The Parkdale Tenants Association was represented in the
first half of the process and they made their perspective clear in writing when they chose to withdraw. Members of the
Bachelorette Tenants association attended all the meetings.
Parkdale is a dense, inner-city neighbourhood that contains many types of housing. The proliferation of illegally converted
small dwelling spaces has contributed to the decline of the health of the community. All of the participants in the conflict
resolution process supported a wide variety of housing forms for singles and families and, in particular, affordable housing.
As a result of the discussions, it became clear that there are a number of groups that care about the housing needs and
issues in Parkdale, but there is no on-going structure in place for those interests to be discussed.
As a result, there is no shared vision about housing in the community. When opportunities to develop new types of housing
emerge, or when a crisis arises (e.g. building fires or tenant evictions), there is often an element of mistrust and a
breakdown in communications. The complexity of the problems, and the lack of a consistent and co-ordinated approach by
the City, has contributed to the failure to develop a consensus and resolve long-standing issues. In some small way, the
conflict resolution process began to re-build these connections within the community; however, there is clearly a need for a
more permanent way to discuss and deal with housing issues within Parkdale and the city as a whole.
1. Conflict Resolution Process:
In response to Councils endorsement, City staff invited representatives from community organizations, residents and
tenants associations, and the bachelorette owners to participate in the conflict resolution process. The following
organizations were represented:
a) The community: the Bachelorette Tenants Association, Parkdale Tenants Association, the Parkdale Village Business
Improvement Area, Roncesvalles-MacDonell Residents Association (RMRA), Parkdale Village Residents Association
(PVRA), the Delivery of Government Services (DOGS) Working Group, the Joint Mental Health Committee, and the
Bachelorette Owners Association. During the course of the negotiation process, representation from the Parkdale Tenants
Association was withdrawn; however the stated position of that group was acknowledged throughout the process.
b) Community service agencies: St. Christopher House, Habitat, the Queen Street Mental Health Centre Joint
Neighbourhood Committee, Parkdale Activity and Recreation Centre (PARC); Parkdale Community Legal Services was
invited but chose not to attend throughout the process.
c) Initially, staff from Community Planning, Municipal Licensing and Standards, Buildings, Legal, Housing, Health and
Fire were asked to attend to observe and offer professional input to the discussions. Later, staff were requested to prepare a
report which included a summary of the participants' viewpoints and recommendations for Council's consideration.
Councillors Miller and Korwin-Kuczynski were also in attendance throughout the process.
John Schaffter of the Corporate Services Department led the mediation process. It evolved into a series of 12 evening and 3
all-day meetings in which issues were defined, the interests of the various participants were discussed and options for
dealing with those interests were explored. The group decided that all solutions and recommendations should be based on
consensus. At the end of the process, the group met for a number of extended sessions to discuss key issues.
2. Focal Points of the Mediation Process:
The current mediation process has focused on three broad categories of existing units:
a) In the late 1970's and early 1980's many of the large houses in South Parkdale that had been converted to rooming
houses were renovated to add culinary/kitchen facilities to the rooms to create self-contained units. Most of these units
were, prior to the addition of culinary facilities, in conformity with approved standards and Building Permit plans for
rooming house units. The conversion to small, self-contained units was frequently completed without a Building Permit
and, in many cases, the resulting buildings were unable to meet the Zoning By-law requirements for such things as
minimum unit size, parking and open space, and in some cases, Building Code requirements. The legal status of these
buildings has yet to be resolved and was a major part of the negotiation process.
b) The construction of new rooming houses was prohibited in South Parkdale in 1978. However, many single-family
buildings were subsequently converted to either rooming house or bachelorette units. A small proportion of these rooming
houses, which may have been created after 1978, were licensed by the Rooming House Licensing Tribunal due to
uncertainty about the date of their conversion. The Tribunal took considerable latitude for interpretation. Construction had
often been done without a Building Permit, and the lack of permit and proper inspection raised concerns that many of these
units did not meet current Building Code, Health or Fire standards. Although similar to converted rooming house units in
some respects, these units have no basis for claiming to be an approved rooming house prior to conversion to
c) The amendments and proposals resulting from the conflict resolution process could play a role in developing standards
for future affordable single-person occupancy units that may be developed in response to the recommendations of the
Mayors Homelessness Action Task Force.
3. Stakeholder Perspectives:
This report outlines an approach for regularizing small units which have existed for a number of years, and improving and
enforcing standards for safe, good quality housing in Parkdale. The issues this report deals with are symptoms of a much
larger problem - the loss of affordable family and single person units and the growth of illegal units across the city. The
groups felt strongly that this approach is only a small part of the action that is needed to deal with housing issues in
The recommendations in this report reinforce the directions of the Mayors Homelessness Action Task Force. The
stakeholders urge Council to develop strategies to meet affordable housing targets over the next 20 years throughout the
city, and provide opportunities for family and single person housing as-of-right in all parts of the city.
Each of the groups brought a unique perspective to the mediation process:
a) The Parkdale Village BIA also represented other business interests within the community. The BIA seeks improved
conditions within the bachelorette units, and, more broadly, within the community. It supports diversifying the mix of
residential units to include family housing, and believes that more diverse housing will enhance commercial opportunities
within South Parkdale.
b) The Roncesvalles-MacDonell Residents Association and the Parkdale Village Residents Association represent residents
within the larger community. RMRA and PVRA wish to improve the condition of existing units and ensure that future
units are regulated. They support a mix of units that will provide options for various household sizes. They would like to
stop the close to 30-year proliferation of illegal small unit housing, which they believe is abusive of tenants and detrimental
to the health of the community.
c) Community Service representation was from diverse backgrounds. The agencies provide continued support within the
community for people marginalized because of poverty or mental health issues. This group wants to improve living
conditions within the bachelorette units, and seeks a greater diversity of housing options for future residents.
d) The Bachelorette Tenants Group represents tenants within the bachelorette buildings. They wish to protect existing
housing alternatives for low-income households, and improve living conditions within existing and future units with no
loss of existing units.
e) The Parkdale Tenants Association withdrew from the mediation process, but made their views clear. They take the
position that zoning should not discriminate against certain types of housing. Areas that are zoned for residential use
should permit all forms of rental housing. They believe that housing standards should be based only upon standards such as
structural integrity, fire safety and public health; standards should not be used as a means of restricting housing forms.
Parkdale Tenants support licensing of rental housing, and increasing the number of inspectors to ensure that housing meets
standards. Parkdale Tenants believe that there should be no evictions, and that the City should do repairs as needed to
ensure safe living conditions and then bill or tax the property owner accordingly.
f) The Bachelorette Owners Association (BOA) represents 17 owners who own 27 of the 65 bachelorette buildings
currently known to the City. BOA takes the position that these buildings existed as rooming houses prior to 1978 and were
created with City Building Permits. Many of these buildings were designed and purpose built for rooming house units and
were previously licensed by the City. BOA does not believe that licensing of bachelorettes is necessary, since the
objectives sought through licensing can be achieved in other ways. BOA believes that their buildings should be legalized as
All of these groups were provided an opportunity to comment on the contents of this report. Comments are attached as
The group as a whole agreed that the essential issue was the creation and maintenance of high quality housing options,
suitable for a wide range of economic and household circumstances. This requires a new process of regulation, inspection
and licensing of existing and future units.
4. Recommended Strategy:
As discussed in more detail in the following sections, based upon the elements of consensus that emerged after extensive
discussions, staff recommends the following strategy for dealing with the bachelorette units:
1. Establishment of a Parkdale Housing Committee, with broad community representation, to consider housing issues in
South Parkdale and provide input to the recommended review process.
2. Creation of a dedicated and funded City Pilot Project Group to deal with housing issues in Parkdale (bounded by
Lakeshore Boulevard, Dufferin Street, the rail lines, Dundas Street and Roncesvalles Avenue) as a high priority.
3. Building owners to be provided an opportunity to prove that the existing units, save for the addition of culinary facilities,
were built in conformity with Building Permits issued before the 1978 by-law which outlawed rooming house units.
4. The Pilot Project Group to conduct the review to legalize the pre-1978 units as "self-contained rooming house units"
with input from the Housing Committee.
5. Those buildings that are not proven to be legal pre-1978 rooming houses (as defined in point 3), to be subject to a further
review against new criteria related to unit size, parking, landscaping and common space. The Pilot Project Group would
also conduct this review, with input from the Housing Committee.
6. If successful, those units defined in point 5, to be legalized through the building permit process and be subject to
rezoning and the licensing process set out below.
7. Both categories of approved units to be subject to a by-law that contains site-specific provisions. This rezoning process
would include the normal notification and public consultation process.
8. Buildings that were created after 1978 but before the Interim Control By-law (November 1996) to have the option of
applying to the Committee of Adjustment, or applying for a rezoning to regularize their units where they do not meet the
new standards. However, the City will vigorously defend its policy at any related Committee of Adjustment hearings.
9. Buildings that were converted after the introduction of the Interim Control By-law in 1996 to be considered to be illegal
conversions. These buildings should be subject to review, using the current by-law standards, and prosecution where
10. In order to minimize tenant relocation, successful owners to be provided an extended period of time within which to
complete renovations. When necessary, the City would continue to assist with tenant relocation, bearing in mind that the
goal is to avoid tenant relocation.
11. On-going maintenance to be ensured through licensing, including regular inspections. The inspection process should be
streamlined to include a co-ordinated single inspection of each property.
12. Where a high standard of maintenance has been consistently met, a property to qualify for less frequent inspections
unless special circumstances require otherwise.
13. In order to simplify on-going maintenance, each licensed building to be required to display visibly in the lobby
telephone numbers for a superintendent or staff contact, Fire Certificates and other required licenses as well as how to
contact Police, Fire etc.
14. Where buildings are not legalized through this process, and where they continue to operate in contravention of
Building, Fire or Health Code regulations, the City to seek to bring the units into compliance, including prosecution if
15. All of the buildings that meet the established standards and are licensed to be classified as rooming houses.
16. The conflict resolution process supports the Citys efforts to have rooming house units qualify for a reduced tax rate.
The City will vigorously advocate this position with the Province to resolve this issue. When the tax rate is adjusted, a
portion of the savings will be passed on to tenants.
17. Current zoning by-law standards, including the prohibition on rooming houses and the 65 m2 (695 sq. ft.) average unit
size and gross floor area standards to remain in place for future conversions and new units in South Parkdale. The City will
vigorously defend its policy at any related Committee of Adjustment or Ontario Municipal Board hearings. An exception to
this position could be made in the case of applications for other forms of affordable housing which have the support of the
18. The criteria developed to evaluate existing units to also provide input to the development of standards for single-person
housing units in other parts of the city.
19. Confirmation of the development standards that apply to additional units in pre-78 buildings respecting unit size,
parking standards, and amenity space to remain pending.
5. Specific Issues:
5.1 Parkdale Housing Committee
Throughout the negotiations, the community has proven to be a valuable source of knowledge about housing issues. During
the conflict resolution process, the BIA proposed a Parkdale Housing Committee. Its membership would include 4 tenants
of whom 2 are from local tenant groups, 2 owners (bachelorette and rooming house buildings), 1 BIA representative, 2
social service providers, and 2 representatives from residents associations.
The Parkdale Housing Committee was promoted as a means for the community to participate in the review of the status
and condition of bachelorette buildings. The Committee could also serve as a sounding board and assist Council with other
housing issues in Parkdale. Under existing legislation, Council cannot authorize members of the community to make
decisions on its behalf. However, it is appropriate to seek the communitys input on housing issues on a consistent basis.
Another goal of the Housing Committee is to preserve the stock of quality affordable housing in Parkdale. Monitoring
housing trends and the sale of specific buildings could allow the City and agencies to intervene if there was a loss of
quality affordable housing. The committee should work with the Pilot Group to find effective mechanisms for monitoring
the sale or change of use of buildings in Parkdale.
We recommend that a Housing Committee be established with a mandate to consider a broad range of housing issues
within the South Parkdale area. The Committee should meet regularly (perhaps once every four months). Additional
meetings could be scheduled to respond to more urgent issues. The mandate of the Committee should include:
- input to the Pilot Project Groups' consideration of the existing units for rezoning;
- input on property maintenance and licensing issues;
- considering opportunities for the creation of additional affordable housing within the community;
- acting as a clearing house for other housing issues as they arise;
- when providing input, the Committee should try to reach a consensus position that represents the community view.
However, it is acknowledged that this will not always be possible. Committee members may present alternative views
when appropriate; and
- the Parkdale Housing Committee should be added to the agenda mailing list for the Committee of Adjustment to enable
the Committee to comment where they believe it is appropriate.
The Shelter Housing and Support Division of the Community Services Department should be the lead Department to assist
in setting up the Committee and establishing its initial Terms of Reference including the type of decision-making process,
methods for assuring stability, and methods of accountability to the organizations and the City. These issues should be
resolved prior to beginning to process applications. Over a relatively short period of time, the Committee should begin to
operate independently. Meeting space should be arranged in the community, perhaps at one of the existing community
5.2 Pilot Project Group
The illegal housing issue has a long history in Parkdale. Solving the problem will require the City to commit staff and
financial resources to manage and implement the regularization process.
We recommend the establishment of a Pilot Project Group that is staffed by employees who are seconded to the team, and
whose only function is to complete this project. Staff should not have other duties that create conflicts that detract from the
timely completion of this significant project. The Group should develop and test new protocols for inter-departmental
co-operation so that they can act in a swift, integrated fashion to gain access and achieve compliance. Core staff should
include people who are familiar with current issues in Parkdale and the outcome of the conflict resolution process,
- One full time Director who will have overall responsibility for managing and co-ordinating the successful completion of
the project including regular reports to Council. This person will also have significant responsibility for communicating
with and co-ordinating all the community partners in this endeavour.
- One research clerk to search archives and collect information from various sources concerning the applications received.
- One clerical staff for documentation, correspondence and record keeping.
- One full time Tenant Landlord Liaison staff (could be later in the process if the need for tenant relocation is identified).
- One full-time Buildings inspector, and
- One full time Housing Standards inspector.
In addition to the foregoing full time staff, the team should have priority access to the following staff who are familiar with
housing issues in Parkdale. Staff should be assigned on a consistent basis in order to remain familiar with the specific
issues in Parkdale.
- Housing and tenant relocation,
- Licensing staff,
- Legal enforcement,
- Buildings and Legal for zoning interpretation, and
- Fire inspections.
The mandate of the Pilot Project Group would include:
- Making recommendations to Council about detailed strategies and costs for dealing with illegal rooming houses in
Parkdale based on the approaches in this report and the Rooming House Review.
- Developing an implementation program for regularization of bachelorette units in accordance with Councils direction.
- Advertising the program in the Community.
- Approaching all the known owners of illegal buildings and informing them of the opportunity for regularization and the
consequences if they do not come into compliance.
- Receiving and conducting an assessment of applications for regularization using information and documents available
from the City records and other sources including the Housing Committee.
- Inspecting properties to determine compliance with the regularization guidelines and with Building Code, Fire Code,
Housing Standards, Health and any other applicable standards.
- Determining what steps must be taken by an owner in order for the property to be regularized.
- Establishing a time frame for compliance.
- Clearing properties that have met regularization requirements for licensing.
- Ensuring that a housing and relocation service will be available for any tenants who may be displaced.
- Co-ordinating legal enforcement of standards where necessary.
The Pilot Project Group should operate out of the current West Inspections Office of the South District in order to ensure
easy access for the community. The cost of the team is estimated at $360,000 per annum for dedicated staff, and $50,000
for initial operating expenses for such items as advertising, dedicated telephone lines, and computers. Annual operational
requirements may dictate additional costs that should be determined by the Director.
We propose evaluations of the implementation of the recommendations after 6 months and 1 year. This is to ensure
accountability and credibility after this lengthy, time consuming conflict resolution process.
The evaluation(s) would include consultation with the community (tenants, bachelorette owners, residents' associations,
business association, and community agencies), appropriate City departments, and the Ward Councillors. The evaluation(s)
will need to be done by an independent, objective third party. The evaluation(s) will serve as a report card on how well
various stakeholders have implemented the agreement. We recommend that the evaluation results be communicated to the
Housing Committee and the community at a public meeting.
Among the issues which should be addressed are the following:
- Has there been "dehousing"? If so, how much, and why?
- Where did the "dehoused" tenants go?
- Have all the parties and departments fulfilled their commitments? If not, why not?
- Has the safety/quality of the housing improved?
- If so, has the safety of the neighbourhood improved?
This evaluation should complement on-going monitoring by the Housing Committee, who may also "fine tune" the issues
to be considered as the evaluation proceeds.
5.3 Development Standards for Pre-1978 Buildings
After considerable discussion, there was a general consensus around an approach to regularization of the existing
bachelorette units. The overall objective is to raise and maintain the quality of housing across Parkdale through the
introduction of appropriate standards, licensing, and continued inspections. This approach must preserve the existing range
of units and make them safe, while ensuring that future building operation and maintenance are subject to community
It is anticipated that this project could take 24 months to complete including 6 months for the initial applications, and
approximately 18 months for the subsequent verification process. It should be noted that current court cases related to
health and safety issues would continue during this period. After the 24-month period, enforcement proceedings should
commence against all "outstanding" buildings.
It is assumed that the pre-1978 units were based upon previously approved rooming house units, which did meet City
standards of the time. Since rooming houses were eliminated as a permitted use in South Parkdale in 1978, the group
believes that the post-1978 units should not be approved using the same criteria. This distinction led to discussion of a
two-tier (pre- or post-1978) approach to evaluating the existing units not in compliance.
The first stage requires an owner to demonstrate that the units legally existed in 1978, and that there are City authorized
plans and permits. This could take the form of an affidavit including reference to City records such as assessment files,
voters lists or Building Permit documentation; statements from residents, tenants and neighbours; records for work done on
the building, or similar evidence. This could be supplemented or confirmed by relevant information submitted by the
Parkdale Housing Committee, tenants and neighbours.
Once a building has been accepted as meeting the pre-1978 date, a comparison can be made between the layout of the
existing units and those permitted in 1978, subject to the following principles:
- Any amenities (i.e. laundry room, tenant storage common space) that appeared on the original plan must be replaced.
- Any units that were not on the original plan must be made safe or be removed.
- Any units that were not on the original plans must conform with the Building Code.
- There may be fewer units than on the original plans but there may be no more than 4 additional units.
- Each building must have an on-site superintendent.
- The original parking requirements are met and additional spaces are provided, if appropriate, for the new units.
- The building is Licensed.
There are two points that have not been tested and agreed to: standards for amenity space and unit size. These will be tested
and confirmed over the next month, and staff will report further to the Toronto Community Council meeting of December
To this end, staff of Urban Planning and Development Services and Legal have formed a review team which will review
approved and current plans for pre-1978 units and consider the impact of applying the above principles to any units that did
not appear on the approved plans to test the impact of the draft guidelines and unit size. This review is not intended to
indicate approval of particular plans, or dictate changes.
The review team will be mindful of the following: the safety of the unit must not be compromised; loss of units and tenant
disruption should be avoided; the quality of living space inside and outside the building should be maintained or improved;
and unnecessary costs should be avoided. The outcome of the review may be used to refine the principles and the standards
for amenity space minimum unit size.
5.4 Development Standards for Post-78 Buildings
Where the approach for pre-1978 buildings is permissive, the approach for post-1978 buildings is more prescriptive. In
principle, the group believes that these units are generally comparable to the Single Room Occupancy units (SRO)
proposed in the Mayors Task Force on Homelessness report. However, bachelorettes are generally smaller than SRO units,
and it is important to note that SROs also typically provide on-site supervision, additional amenity areas and tenant
The issue of unit size consumed considerable time during the discussions. In general, the owners and tenants supported
retaining the existing unit size, while the residents sought a larger minimum unit size and a mix of large and small units
capable of housing a range of tenants including families.
The emerging consensus is that the following standards should be applied to any illegal construction that happened
between 1978 and the adoption of the Interim Control Bylaw in 1996. However, this consensus must be confirmed. The
standards are consistent with the principles that have been applied to the Single Room Occupancy (SRO) pilot projects.
Adequate indoor and outdoor amenity space is required to offset the reduced unit sizes.
Buildings would be eligible for rezoning provided that it could be proven that they were converted between 1978 and the
adoption of the Interim Control Bylaw in 1996 and they meet the following standards:
- Average unit size of 20 m2 (220 sq. ft.)
- To ensure a mix of unit sizes within a building, when calculating the average unit size, a maximum of 20% of the units
could be less than 20 m2 (220 sq. ft.) or more than 46 m2 (500 sq. ft.)
- Minimum unit size 19 m2 (200 sq. ft.)
- If there are more than 6 units in the building, a minimum of 1 m2 (10 sq. ft.) of indoor amenity space, and 1 m2 (10 sq.
ft.) of outdoor amenity space for each unit, with a minimum of 10 m2 interior and 20 m2 exterior amenity space
- The building must meet all appropriate Building and Fire Codes
- The building would be considered a Rooming House and would require an operating license
- Relaxed parking standards would have to be met
- Street parking permits for the building would be limited to the number of complete spaces that span the width of the
We recommend that the continued economic viability of implementing these standards be monitored over time in order to
identify the need for other mechanisms to ensure affordability in the long term.
The licensing tribunal should also consider community comments about the exterior appearance and maintenance of the
building, landscaping and garbage storage area as conditions to issuing a license.
5.5 Site Specific By-law
Once each building has qualified as a pre-or post-1978 building, and demonstrated an ability to meet the appropriate
standards, staff would prepare a report recommending the adoption of a by-law. The by-law would identify the approved
buildings on a site by site basis. Given the wide range of buildings under review, and the varying length of time that may
be necessary to demonstrate conformity with the new standards, it is likely that there will be a number of by-laws coming
forward. As required by law these will be subject to the notification and approval processes currently followed by Council
including a Public Meeting. If there is an appeal to the Ontario Municipal Board, the City would support the rezoning.
The BOA did not support licensing of bachelorette units. It was their view that the Citys objectives could be secured and
implemented without licensing. The bachelorette tenant groups believed strongly that the inspection process was an
invasion of privacy, since inspectors could request access to the individual units.
However, the remaining parties, including Parkdale Tenants, believed that licensing and regular inspection makes it easier
to monitor the state of repair and safety of the approved buildings. It would give tenants, the Housing Committee and the
community an impartial and accountable body to call if a building is not properly maintained. It also provides the City with
an additional tool to ensure that tenants are provided with safe, quality housing through regular inspections and
enforcement of appropriate standards.
The current legislation permits licensing rooming houses within the former City of Toronto. It is our view that
bachelorettes can be licensed under the provisions of the Rooming House By-law which was passed pursuant to the City of
Toronto Act. However, minor technical amendments to the Rooming House By-law may be required to allow this to occur.
- Licensing for an initial period of 3 years.
- The initial fee should be modest so that it is not passed on to tenants. It should cover the administrative and inspection
costs. Subsequent fees for inspections related to infractions should be on a cost-recovery basis (e.g. $150 per visit).
- To minimize disturbance to tenants, make the most efficient use of staff and ensure the owner is given an integrated
compliance schedule, inspections should be co-ordinated so that all relevant departments attend at one time.
- The first annual inspection should cover the entire building. Subsequent yearly inspections should cover the common
spaces and a sample of the rooms. Inspections should focus on health and safety issues rather than cosmetic appearances.
Additional inspections can be requested by the tenants, the Housing Committee, or when the property ownership changes.
- Re-inspection every 3 years for license renewal. If the first 3-year license is completed without major deficiencies, yearly
inspections are no longer required.
- If there is a change of ownership, the initial inspection process repeats.
- To facilitate complaints, the license must be posted within the building along with telephone numbers for appropriate
staff of the Rooming House Licensing agency and the Building Division.
- The Parkdale Housing Committee should be notified of any license or renewal application.
The City should advocate to the Province a reassessment to reduce the level of taxation. A lower tax rate would provide a
further incentive for property owners to come forward and retain these buildings as a form of affordable housing.
Currently, rooming houses and bachelorettes are taxed differently as they are in different property classes. Rooming houses
have historically been assessed and valued as being similar to other residential houses, are included in the residential class,
and are taxed at the lower residential tax rate. They are assessed based on the market or sale value and not on the income
Bachelorettes are considered to be fully self-contained apartment units from an assessment policy point of view. As a
result, provincial assessors value them as income producing properties. If there are more than 6 units in the building, they
are included in the multi-residential class. Any property with 6 units or less is included in the residential class.
When the phasing provisions related to Market Value Assessment are removed, the tax rate will escalate further. The BOA
stated that the increase in taxes will probably be passed on to their tenants, reducing their ability to provide affordable
housing. They believe they should qualify for the residential rate that applies to rooming houses. Others argue that the
bachelorette buildings should not qualify for a reduced tax rate since they are essentially multiple unit buildings that
operate as a business.
The issue of whether bachelorettes should have a separate tax class requires further discussion with the Province. The
creation of a new property class for rooming houses and bachelorettes is possible under current legislation, but does require
the Minister to specify the new class in a Provincial regulation. Even if a separate class is supported, the tax rate applied is
not within the Citys jurisdiction to determine, but must fall within provincially defined ranges of fairness that were
introduced when CVA was implemented in 1998. Further review is required not only with respect to the applicable tax
rates, but also to the financial impact that the creation of a new class would have on the City. We therefore recommend that
Council pursue the lower tax rate.
Unless property owners understand that the City is serious about enforcing its by-laws, there is little motivation to comply.
This is particularly true where buildings have been operating in contravention of current standards for a number of years
with few consequences.
Staff have been requested to report to Council on the staffing in Municipal Licensing and Standards. We will be advising
that, within East York, North York, and Scarborough there is a pro-active programme for common areas of multi unit
buildings. Under this programme there is a schedule of inspections for all rental buildings, after an initial audit to
determine the current condition, and the maintenance history. The frequency of inspection can vary from once per six
months for a building in poor condition and with an unsatisfactory history to once per four years for buildings in good
condition where management has a history of prompt and adequate response to concerns.
This programme is consistent with what is being recommended for the Licensing regime for rooming houses and could be
cost effectively managed if a full pro-active programme is established.
Such a programme has the potential to create a more manageable work load, but there is an initial cost to carry out the
audit. We will be advising Council of the initial costs to carry out a full audit within the former municipalities of
Etobicoke, York, and Toronto. The benefits arise from building owners knowing that inspections will take place. There is
no reliance on tenant complaints which, in some cases, are not frequent because either the tenants are unaware of the
process or they may have concerns about future relationships with their landlord should they complain.
5.9 Minimizing the Impact of Tenant Disruption and Resettlement
During the mediation process a number of groups expressed concern that the normalization and enforcement processes not
lead to de-housing of existing tenants. The review and assessment process outlined above is intended to provide enough
latitude that work necessary to achieve compliance can be completed during the normal turnover of units.
Ideally, units would be vacated through natural turnover, and any displaced tenants would be resettled within the same
building. This assumption must be carefully monitored. Overall there must be a balance between improving the housing
quality of these units, and minimizing the impact on tenants in terms of loss of affordable housing. If a balance cannot be
maintained, there may be a need to provide financial assistance for capital rehabilitation costs and/or operational expenses
in order to maintain the affordability of the housing. Such assistance is best provided by senior levels of government,
however, the City needs to advocate for this assistance.
Every effort should be made to avoid the de-housing of tenants and the need to resettle them. The approach recommended
here would provide a long time period for reviewing and normalizing the existing units, in order to make it easier to free up
units through regular turnover of tenants. In addition, the City should take steps to ensure that disruption to tenants is
minimized as a result of renovation activity.
If the legalization of a bachelorette building results in the need to resettle tenants, the landlord has certain obligations as set
out in the Tenant Protection Act (1999). While the City can and should take certain steps to assist tenants and landlords, it
cannot remove or replace such obligations. Such obligations relate to disruptions resulting from renovation activity as well
as relocation that may be required as a result of units being removed through the legalization process.
The City should take steps to ensure that tenants and landlords are aware of their rights and obligations. For example, the
Tenant Protection Act (1999) requires that the landlord provide 120 days notice if vacant occupancy of a unit is required as
a result of a planned renovation. The tenant also has the first right of refusal to return to the renovated unit. However, if the
tenant does not wish to return to the unit, or the unit is being demolished, they are entitled to compensation or to the offer
of an alternative, acceptable unit by the landlord.
The review process may discover buildings that do not meet current health and safety or fire standards. In these cases, the
City has an obligation to ensure that these buildings are brought into compliance.
As in the past, the City will always take incremental steps to seek compliance. Before acting to shut down an illegal
building, staff will consult with the Housing Committee. When it becomes essential for the City to act to close a building,
Buildings Division and Shelter Housing and Support Division staff will act to provide support for the existing tenants.
The City needs to develop a relocation protocol to address the needs of tenants who are de-housed due to the closure of
unlicensed properties, properties where urgent hazards exist, or similar situations. Developing this response requires the
participation of a number of groups or agencies including tenant advocates, legal clinics, community based agencies, City
staff (Urban Development Services, Fire, Public Health, Shelter, Housing and Support, and Social Services), housing
providers (for-profit and non-profit groups), and Ward Councillors.
It is proposed that staff for the Pilot Project Office include a Tenant/Landlord Liaison who would co-ordinate the Citys
assistance. The first objective should be to work with the building owner to minimize disruption to tenants and to avoid
relocation. However, where relocation is deemed necessary, City assistance would help ensure that the bachelorette owners
will meet their obligations to tenants.
Suitable alternative housing or shelter options can come from a number of sources including temporary shelter, available
rooming house accommodation (e.g. Open Door Centre and Rooms Registry), Toronto Housing Company, the housing
workers personal contacts with landlords, non-profit providers with vacancies (e.g. Habitat Services, Supportive Housing
Coalition, Ecuhome, Keith Whitney Homes, etc.).
The resettlement protocol should also provide assistance with:
- conducting an initial assessment of tenant needs in buildings being considered for legalization;
- working with the landlord to determine the impact of proposed changes on tenants in each building;
- advising the landlord in the development of a communication/action plan for his/her tenants related to renovation,
temporary displacement and relocation (where necessary);
- having income supports transferred, or placed on hold;
- assistance with obtaining or replacing identification;
- storage of belongings and furnishings if need be (Chill Out, drop-in centres);
- where necessary, searching out available housing options in for-profit and not-for-profit housing;
- assistance with the physical move to new accommodations;
- assistance with pets where needed through the Humane Society;
- assistance with transportation to evaluate housing/shelter options (TTC tokens, accompaniment by housing worker);
- follow-up as required with tenants who have been relocated; and
- reporting on relocation issues as they arise and recommending strategies to support vulnerable tenants.
In the past, Rupert Community Residential Services of Toronto Inc. has received money through the Homeless Initiatives
fund to assist with emergency relocation of vulnerable roomers. Funds have been used, where necessary, to cover first
and/or last months rent, moving expenses, storage costs and limited furnishings. Buildings and Inspections, have also
allocated resources where closure was the result of a Court Order, and where the Court Order authorized that relocation,
expenses be placed on a property owners tax bill.
5.10 Zoning Standards
During the mediation process it became clear that many of the stakeholders believe that Parkdale is treated differently than
other areas of the city. This is due in part to the history of housing problems in the area and the fact that some different
residential zoning standards currently apply. The group felt that any solution to the current housing problems should not be
a Parkdale only solution, it should be applied consistently across the city.
At the same time, some stakeholders were concerned that any solution which relaxed the current prohibition on rooming
houses in Parkdale would open the floodgates to this type of building. Many people felt that Parkdale already has a
significant share of this type of housing, and that other parts of the city should be required to contribute as well.
Since Council has not yet dealt with the Mayors Homelessness Action Task Force recommendations related to rooming
houses, we believe it would be premature to make recommendations that may affect other parts of the city. Until this issue
is dealt with comprehensively, we recommend that the current zoning restriction on new rooming houses in Parkdale
remain in place. We also recommend that the current requirement of an average unit size of 65 m2 (695 sq. ft.), which is in
effect city wide, remain in effect.
The mediation process only began to consider the issue of affordability. All of the participants were concerned with the
protection of affordable housing within Parkdale. With the loss of rent control, the City does not have the ability to impose
affordability. However, a number of ideas were discussed which merit further consideration.
As each unit is considered for legalization, the current rents, the costs required to bring the units to standard, and the
potential impacts on rent should be considered. Ways of ensuring that improvements are made without affecting rents
should be investigated. These may include loans, grants, etc.
For example, any building that becomes legal and licensed could be eligible for RRAP loans to upgrade the building.
RRAP loans contain affordability conditions that apply for the duration of the loans. The licensed units could also be
candidates for any new incentive programmes including loans, operating grants or rent supplements which the City or
Province may introduce for this type of building in the future.
We have recommended approaching the Province to secure a reduced tax rate for bachelorette buildings which will further
The Parkdale Conflict Resolution Process has been under way since October 1998. There is general agreement on the
outlines of a process that would allow the legalization of existing units. Licensing is recommended, along with a process of
annual inspections to ensure continued compliance with health, fire safety and Building codes.
To oversee this process, we recommend the establishment of a dedicated staff Pilot Project Group, and a Citizens' Parkdale
Housing Committee. Initial staffing and costs are identified, however these will require further review once the process is
Housing issues have been a long-standing concern within South Parkdale. The process we recommend was developed with
extensive input from residents, tenants, property owners, agencies and the business community. It contains all the elements
of a durable solution. It recommends: standards to guide decisions; a process for dealing with the existing buildings; a
structure and process for continuing community involvement around housing issues; and, the resources required to improve
housing for residents and tenants.
The process will preserve a substantial number of affordable housing units within the community by resolving the current
legal status of the existing bachelorette units. Housing conditions will be improved by ensuring that these units meet
current Building and Fire Code requirements.
A public meeting is recommended in order to secure public input on the approach recommended in Section 4 of this report.
The City Solicitor has reviewed this report and supports its recommendations.
Manager, Community Planning, South
Telephone: (416) 392-1317
Fax: (416) 392-1330
Chief Building Official, South District,
Urban Planning and Development Services
Executive Director and Chief Planner,
Urban Planning and Development Services
Executive Director, Municipal Standards and Licensing,
Urban Planning and Development Services
General Manager, Shelter, Housing and Support Division
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List of Attachments
Letters from participants