A new report says the city’s compliance team is dealing with at least 100 problem properties housing issues. Only Coun. Scott McKeen thinks that’s just scratching the surface and the number of slum landlord properties is likely much higher than that.
McKeen, in an interview, said the city tends to be too lenient, and gives too many chances before bringing down the hammer. The councillor who represents downtown, and has several core neighborhoods in his riding, said it’s a philosophy that puts education in front of enforcement, and while that may work for snow clearing or other bylaws it doesn’t work with run down properties that put rooming house occupants lives’ in danger.
“I don’t think we’ve had a really good focus. The city in it’s enforcement philosophy tends to give people a warning. We have to change that.”
McKeen also said the problem is, with shortage of subsidized housing, even if the city cracked down on a slumlord, the result would be a dozen tenants would be homeless.
“If we have consistent enforcement that is fair but just, these guys will either have to clean up or they’ll be out of business. And we need to put this kind of business out of business.”
That’s where McKeen would like to see the province and feds step up with more social housing. He’d also like to see the province give the city the tools to make tougher laws, that stick, and the power of some one to enforce them, and who can also explain to city council why things are going wrong when they do.
“We need a Czar and I think we need to simplify some of the codes.”
“I don’t know what the specific laws are required to do this, I just know that we deal with so many pieces of legislation and involve different organizations in this, so you’ve got police, Alberta Health Services, you’ve got the building codes inspectors, you’ve got our own bylaw folks, it’s like you’ve got to send team out all who work for different agencies and I think that’s part of the issue.”
Vancouver keeps a registry of problem properties, however McKeen said he’s reluctant to go that route. “Let’s say that ‘community X’ was filled with buildings that said ‘don’t move here because of this’, to me that would stigmatize the community and I think the last thing some of our core neighborhoods need is to be further stigmatized. I think they’re actually a lot better than some of the media stories would suggest.”
Council’s executive committee will review the report Tuesday.
You can read the reports from Executive committee here They are items 6.3 and 6.4