Regina city council reforms "rooming house" bylaw, though critics press for further reform

By Marco Vigliotti, Metro News October 16, 2013 - Mayor Michael Fougere says a new bylaw requiring homeowners who rent out rooms for less than 30 days to apply for a permit – like a bed and breakfast- strikes the right balance on safety and parking concerns, though critics want the city to take a harder line. “We see this as a balance between very much different interests and (council) is trying to take into account everyone’s concerns,” Fougere said Tuesday after council passed new changes to the city’s zoning bylaw that would allow boarding houses renting on a monthly and yearly basis to continue operating without a permit.

Council also voted to remove the “rooming house” classification from the zoning bylaw.

Some concerned residents urged council to opt for a full-licensing system for these sorts of boarding houses to ensure they conform to safety and housing standards.

“The adoption of no regulation and no useable land use definition will have serious negative consequences for the protection of tenants, the condition of housing stock and our neighbourhoods,” said Hillsdale resident Brian Black.

Taking the podium for the public hearing, Black charged that the rise of these rooming houses in his neighbhourhood has made finding available parking difficult, while luring owners to haphazardly divide their houses into multiple self-contained rooms.

Fougere said the city would ramp up enforcement to cut down on these abuses.

“What I foresee is that we will have enforcement of parking and enforcement by the rest our staff that will talk about the health and safety of the building(s),” he said.

Black, however, remained unconvinced that the city had the authority to clamp down on these sort of in-home safety violations.

“Why is there a focus on the enforcement of existing by-laws,” he added, “when by the city’s own admission, it can not gain access to rooming house properties to determine whether any by-laws have been violated.”

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