Thursday 10 February 1994

Residents' Rights Act, 1993, Bill 120, Ms Gigantes / Loi de 1993 modifiant des lois en ce qui

concerne les immeubles d'habitation, projet de loi 120, Mme Gigantes

City of Scarborough

Joyce Trimmer, mayor

Association of Municipalities of Ontario

Michael Power, vice-president

Linda Dionne, board member

Keith Ward, board member

Ontario Home Builders' Association

Stephen Kaiser, president

Ward Campbell, first vice-president

Newmarket Heritage Neighbourhood Association

Tom Taylor, member

East Gwillimbury Heights Ratepayers Association

Marilyn Pontuck, member

Ontario March of Dimes

Terry Cooke, coordinator, independent living

Dr George Eaton, board member and member, government relations committee

Rooming House Action Group

Bart Poesiat, organizer

Doreen Boye, member

Paul Rodgers, member

Affordable Housing Action Association

Chris Krucker, staff member

Tess Moxham, member

Susan McGrath, president

Frank Henry Etruw, member

Rent Check Credit Bureau

Glenn Rumbell, president

Allistair Trent, manager, legal affairs

Jessie's Centre for Teenagers

Debra Phelps, representative

Rachel Garrick, client

Nadine Banton, client

Christine Johnson, client

Rob Hood


*Chair / Président: Brown, Michael A. (Algoma-Manitoulin L)

*Vice-Chair / Vice-Président: Daigeler, Hans (Nepean L)

Arnott, Ted (Wellington PC)

Dadamo, George (Windsor-Sandwich ND)

*Fletcher, Derek (Guelph ND)

Grandmaître, Bernard (Ottawa East/-Est L)

*Johnson, David (Don Mills PC)

*Mammoliti, George (Yorkview ND)

Morrow, Mark (Wentworth East/-Est ND)

Sorbara, Gregory S. (York Centre L)

Wessenger, Paul (Simcoe Centre ND)

White, Drummond (Durham Centre ND)

*In attendance / présents

Substitutions present/ Membres remplaçants présents:

Miclash, Frank (Kenora L) for Mr Sorbara

Mills, Gordon (Durham East/-Est ND) for Mr Morrow

Offer, Steven (Mississauga North/-Nord L) for Mr Grandmaître

Owens, Stephen (Scarborough Centre ND) for Mr Wessenger

Tilson, David (Dufferin-Peel PC) for Mr Arnott

Wilson, Gary, (Kingston and The Islands/Kingston et Les Iles ND) for Mr White

Also taking part / Autres participants et participantes:

Cordiano, Joseph (Lawrence L)

Marland, Margaret (Mississauga South/-Sud PC)

Clerk / Greffier: Carrozza, Franco

Staff / Personnel: Luski, Lorraine, research officer, Legislative Research Service

The committee met at 1007 in the Humber Room, Macdonald Block, Toronto.


Consideration of Bill 120, An Act to amend certain statutes concerning residential property / Projet de loi 120, Loi modifiant certaines lois en ce qui concerne les immeubles d'habitation.


The Chair (Mr Michael A. Brown): The business of the committee this morning is to listen to public deputations in regard to Bill 120. Our first presentation is from the city of Scarborough, Mayor Joyce Trimmer.

Mrs Joyce Trimmer: Good morning, Mr Chairman and members of the committee, and especially to those members of the committee whom I know from past meetings in Scarborough.

Mr Stephen Owens (Scarborough Centre): Scarborough, the finest city in this metropolitan area.

Mrs Trimmer: Oh, it's commercial time.

Mr Owens: Wouldn't you agree with that statement, your worship?

Mrs Trimmer: I certainly would. This is time for our commercials. Great stuff.

The Chair: Now that the commercials are done, I will tell you that you've been allocated one half-hour by the committee for your presentation. You may use that as you wish. For the purposes of our electronic Hansard, you should reintroduce yourself, and then you may begin.

Mrs Trimmer: I will not need to take half an hour, but I will be available for questions.

My name is Joyce Trimmer. I'm the mayor of the city of Scarborough. I am very pleased to have this opportunity to express the opinions, concerns and issues related to this topic from the council of the city of Scarborough. If you want to get into more technical details to which I may not know the answers, then I have along with me one of our staff members, principal planner Peter Moore. Our fire chief may or may not show up -- the traffic is bad today -- but I do know that he has already made a presentation before this committee.

I have been asked by my council to present Scarborough's position regarding Bill 120 and the proposal to permit apartments in houses. I trust the committee will find my comments of some value, given that they are based on extensive experience and a knowledge of this issue acquired over the last few years.

The city conducted its own study of second units or apartments in houses in 1990 and as part of that study held 14 community meetings attended by 750 residents and received 1,800 responses to an opinion survey. Many of my comments today are based on information obtained from Scarborough residents through the consultation process. We learned in our opinion survey that about two thirds of our residents support apartments in houses, conditional upon appropriate controls. Conversely, two thirds oppose them without those controls.

About 10% to 15% of Scarborough's houses have apartments in them, mainly in basements. The city and its staff have considerable experience in dealing with problems they cause and with the inherent difficulties of enforcing bylaws and regulations that deal with these problems.

I also want to emphasize that Scarborough has never closed the door on apartments in houses. It actually decided to legalize them in one part of the city as a pilot project before the province brought out Bill 90. But the city has always wanted to make sure it had the ability to ensure a high quality of life in a safe environment for the occupants of the units and their neighbours. In 1991, council adopted two resolutions asking the province to make a total of 16 changes to provincial legislation, regulations and programs which the city thought were needed to achieve those ends. I've included copies of these two resolutions as part of the written version of my presentation today. Council also suggested some changes to Bill 90 when it reviewed it last year.

In general, these are the basic issues I want to address here today, along with what Scarborough council believes to be reasonable suggestions to deal with them.

Safety and welfare of occupants: We all want to ensure that apartments in houses are safe and that our officials have the ability to make sure they are safe. The proposed building code regulations deal with the technical requirements for a safe unit, and I know that building officials, fire chiefs and property standards officers have given you lots of advice on those standards. In that regard, I endorse the position presented to you by Scarborough Fire Chief Tom Powell on January 26.

It would also be remiss of me if I did not mount my old hobby horse of aluminum wiring, which led a provincial royal commission in the 1970s and which identified serious problems related to the ability of aluminum wire to withstand increased loads through a series of connections. You should be aware that there are whole subdivisions across the province -- I happen to live in one -- with aluminum wire, which, in my opinion, would be totally inappropriate for use as secondary units without major electrical upgrading.

To give you an example of that concern, if you have a heavy load at the end of a series of connections through outlets, you don't have to have anything plugged into a particular outlet to create a fire; you can have a resistance buildup in that wiring in an outlet that has never, ever been used. If it happens to be next to a piece of soft furnishing -- a bed, which they frequently are, or a chesterfield -- then there is a grave danger of there being a short and it catching fire. There have been incidents of that. Just check that old study.

Another concern expressed by delegations to Scarborough council addressed the growing concern of radon gas accumulation in basements. Recent studies in Norway have shown that radon gas is linked to a greater incidence of lung cancer. In light of this information, the province should reassess the building code's current standards for radon -- which it has, but I understand that it doesn't specifically deal with basements -- specifically as it applies to basements in older units.

Scarborough council has also requested the province to provide zoning bylaw inspectors, property standards inspectors and building code inspectors with reasonable and effective rights of access to dwellings for purposes of inspection for compliance with the Ontario Building Code and municipal bylaws without undue delay or expense. The proposed legislation tries to make it easier to get a search warrant, but I don't think it goes far enough, because an officer requesting a warrant to enter a dwelling still has to convince a justice of the peace or a judge that there are reasonable grounds to believe there is a problem with the dwelling. Usually, that means the officer has to enter the dwelling to obtain such evidence, but he needs a warrant before he can get in. It can take many visits to a justice of the peace over a long period of time to get a search warrant. Recently, East York officials had to appear before a justice of the peace four times before they obtained a warrant.

We need to be able to get into units to make sure they are safe. That is why, when it reviewed Bill 90, Scarborough council asked the province to adopt regulations or guidelines setting out the kinds of evidence which may be used to satisfy a judge or justice of the peace with respect to the issuance of a search warrant under the municipal bylaws; for example, assessment roll data, telephone connections, cable TV connections, doorbells, letterboxes, real estate listings, car ownerships, voting lists and sworn affidavits from neighbours. Another approach may be to provide training or briefing sessions for judges or JPs so they are more familiar with the difficulties of enforcing bylaws that apply to private homes.

Even if officers can get in and identify problems, there's still a major concern in enforcing the standards or upgrading a unit. Landlords may decide to close a unit down instead of upgrading it, meaning that people may lose their home. A couple of well-reported examples of this could deter other tenants from complaining to the municipality if there are problems with their unit. I would remind the committee that one of the reasons the government wants to legalize these units is to enable occupants to complain about unsafe or substandard units without the threat that the unit may be closed down.

Scarborough council made some suggestions that would respond to the above concerns. It asked the province to amend the Landlord and Tenant Act and the City of Scarborough Act to provide that a landlord's refusal to comply with the building code, the fire code and municipal bylaws may result in the relocation of the tenant and/or the municipality undertaking needed repairs and maintenance with all costs being recovered as taxes.

The city of Toronto now has that ability to recover the cost of repairs and maintenance as taxes and we think it should be extended to the other municipalities in Ontario. The Rental Housing Protection Act requires that landlords pay for alternative accommodation for tenants if repairs or conversions require that a unit be vacated. That principle could easily be applied in the case of repairs needed to bring a unit up to standard.

Scarborough council also asked the province to amend the Municipal Act to permit municipalities to license apartments in houses. Again, the main reason for this was to have another mechanism to make sure they were safe. The government has said no to licensing. Perhaps I could suggest instead that the government provide assistance to set up a registry of units, as will be permitted for care units. This would also enable municipalities to help people find vacant units, if the landlord has decided to close a unit down rather than bring it up to standard.

Good neighbours: Scarborough council requested the province amend the Landlord and Tenant Act to provide the ability for a home owner to evict expeditiously an incompatible tenant from a second unit. That specific request, which was picked up by a number of municipalities, not the least North York, originated in Scarborough and it was an amendment that was made, quite frankly, by myself. Most tenants are good tenants, but a few tenants can make life miserable for the landlords. If they're living in the same house, it becomes absolutely unbearable.

I believe the act could be changed to help landlords in these cases without giving the landlord the ability to exploit or abuse the tenant. It would also mean you would get more units, because more home owners would rent out a unit in their house if they knew they could deal with "the tenant from hell" more easily than they can now.

I should tell you that I've had specific requests from senior citizens, particularly women on their own, who would like to do that, but they're terrified they'll get someone in whom they can't get out. A particularly outrageous example which received considerable media attention involved a woman in York, I believe it was, evicted from her own home while the tenant was allowed to remain. That woman, an elderly senior citizen who didn't understand the English language too well, was evicted from her own house and the tenant allowed to stay. The details of that are available and you can get those any time.

In Scarborough, we had a specific case -- and again, you can have the details, if you want them -- where tenants were systematically dismantling a house, including the removal of fixtures, fittings, interior piping and roofing, and the landlord wasn't able to stop them because of the time and process required to regain possession of his unit through the courts. His place was a mess. It was almost virtually destroyed before he could get back there, and guess who had to pay the freight on that? He did.

Effective enforcement: At our community meetings, people constantly told us of their frustration that we couldn't effectively enforce our bylaws against tenants and owners who didn't respect community standards. They were bad neighbours. I should tell you that every time we put the blame on you folks, they didn't believe us, because they thought we had the right to do the things that we didn't have the right to do.


Scarborough requests that the province enact the following measures that would help us enforce our bylaws more effectively:

-- Create a municipal bylaw court to deal with all bylaw infractions and building code violations. We envisage a municipal division of the provincial court. It would be staffed by judges who developed experience in and understood the implications and nuances of municipal bylaw issues.

-- Amend the Planning Act and the Municipal Act to provide that the cost of work carried out under municipal orders shall be recovered as taxes. This is already allowed under the Building Code Act, so we think it's reasonable that the same powers be extended to matters covered by the Planning Act.

-- Amend the court procedures to permit a prohibition order to be enforced by the same court granting such orders. There are problems when you go back to permit a prohibition order. You go back to a different authority and you've got to go through the whole process again. At least if you went back to the same one, they'd know what it was all about.

Fair taxation: At our community meetings, residents told us they wanted apartments in houses to pay their fair share of taxes for the services they were receiving from the city. That's why Scarborough requested that the province ensure that accessory units are assessed appropriately to reflect the increased market value of the converted property; in other words, to assess them for property taxes as duplexes in comparison with other duplexes under the Assessment Act.

Right now, the assessment rolls identify about 4,000 converted houses in Scarborough. We know there are over 10,000 apartments in houses in the city. So that's another 6,000 or so not paying their fair taxes. Again, I might remind you that the fair tax issue is a very, very sensitive one in Scarborough, where they are already acknowledged as being overassessed and overtaxed.

Facilitating units: Council also recognized that the province could assist us to make units safe and bring new units on to the market by reintroducing programs that would provide funding assistance to owners of units and to municipalities so they could expedite the processing of building permits. Again, I personally have been asked by senior citizens if funding assistance would be available, and they would be happy to use that.

Apartments in town housing: Bill 120 will allow apartments in all row houses, including row houses in cluster projects or condominium developments where a private driveway serves many units. Additional units in these projects will need a parking space, but there may not be room on the site for more parking spaces without taking over open space or recreational space. These areas are essential for children. They are especially important for day care centres that may want to set up in a town house project.

I think the province's aims for this legislation would be achieved if it didn't extend as-of-right permission to cover apartments in row houses in developments in which three or more row houses share common parking, outdoor amenities, driveways or private roads. Scarborough has about 13,000 such units, most of them on carefully planned sites with a specific limit on the number of units on the site. It has over 95,000 single detached, semi-detached and street town house units, which would still easily meet the need for apartments in houses in Scarborough. Those are a special type of housing where we're saying we don't think it's appropriate, because we don't want those areas to lose the space for children to play.

The zoning bylaw amendments process: Most municipalities will want to bring their bylaws into line with the changes brought about by Bill 120, so that their bylaws are current, clear and user-friendly for the public. Such changes will be little more than technical amendments to the bylaws, but none the less, the Planning Act requires that we hold fair hearings which will be expensive and which will give members of the public the impression that they can have an influence on whether or not apartments in houses are permitted. As you know and we know, that clearly would not be the case. They're being told this is what's going to happen; they're not being asked what their opinion is.

Scarborough council has asked the province, and so has Metro council by the way, to clearly identify to all municipalities the process required for amending the official plans and bylaws to conform to Bill 120. That really means a process that doesn't involve having to go through the farce of a fair hearing when we know that it won't be a fair hearing at all.

Regulations: Much of the real impact of Bill 120 will be realized through the regulations which implement it. My council asked the government to process the draft regulations in conjunction with the bill. I would urge you to adopt regulations which will make units safe, particularly the proposed fire code regulations for two-unit residential occupancy.

Scarborough made most of its requests to the province in 1991. Some of those requests have been adopted or recognized in Bill 120 and we thank you for that. Specifically, they are:

-- The Municipality of Metropolitan Toronto Act was amended to provide that fines payable upon conviction in court belong to the municipality that originated the prosecution.

-- Bill 120 proposes to permit garden suites through temporary-use bylaws and to allow municipalities to enter into agreements with the owners of garden suites. I might draw your attention to our further request, that such agreements be enforceable against any and all subsequent owners of the land. This provision applies to agreements permitted by other sections of the Planning Act -- for example, subdivisions and site plan control.

-- The Building Code Act, 1993, has been adopted.

In conclusion, let me reiterate my key concerns: the safety and welfare of the occupants of apartments in houses; the ability to effectively enforce bylaws; fair taxation; problems with apartments in row houses; the ability to deal expeditiously with bad tenants, and a reasonable process for amending our zoning bylaws.

I will also make one final comment with regard to a major concern that I'm sure is felt by all of the municipalities, that is, that we are required under the Planning Act to plan our communities. Scarborough, of course, being the newest of the area municipalities to develop to the extent that it has within Metropolitan Toronto, has had to conform to those requirements, to plan our communities and plan them well under your direction. We have been given that right, we have been given that responsibility to plan our communities.

It is exceedingly difficult for everyone to comprehend a situation, particularly the general public, when the province, having given us that responsibility, imposes something totally new and different, which will have some major impacts, right over the top of that without public consideration, as in this case the secondary units, once a community has been planned for a specific purpose, population or the services provided. It has been done before by this province in other areas, but it certainly makes it exceedingly difficult for everyone, including the community, to deal with those kinds of impositions after the fact, after a community has been well planned in accordance with your rules. Thank you.


Mr Joseph Cordiano (Lawrence): Thank you for your presentation today. I thought it was very helpful and pragmatic, and it will be very practical and of use to us.

I have specifically two questions. One is around the view emanating from your opinion survey that residents would be in favour, or at least two thirds of them were in favour, of accessory apartments with controls. Is it your view then that controls would be akin to the municipality being able to determine perhaps where accessory apartments are located, given a set of determinations that would be made by the municipality according to its various bylaws?

Mrs Trimmer: I think the results of that survey were aimed specifically at ensuring that they were safe and that in fact they did fit in with the community. The community was saying to us, "Yes, we agree, but there are conditions that need to be laid down and they need to be made very clear to all of us." In other words, they wanted to know precisely what the rules of the game were, as everybody does.

Mr Cordiano: I understand.

Mrs Trimmer: It's also very clear that there are some areas, and of course I indicated one, where it's inappropriate for a number of reasons, why secondary units should not be allowed in that particular area. The people who live in communities know that. That's their life. They live there and they're well aware of it. They also know what the problems are and they want them resolved. So they're not saying they're opposed to it, but they are saying they're opposed to it if those controls aren't in place.

Mr Cordiano: If accessory apartments were required to be registered with a municipality, would that go some measure in alleviating some of the concerns that you might have expressed in this report?

Mrs Trimmer: Yes, some registration. Whether it's by the municipality or whether it's by the province, it makes no difference.

Mr Cordiano: It would be at the municipal level.

Mrs Trimmer: It seems more appropriate perhaps that it be the municipality, but certainly if there was to be a registry, it would be very helpful in a number of ways.

Mr David Johnson (Don Mills): I thank you for a number of excellent points. In three minutes it's not going to be possible to touch on them all, but I think in particular you've expressed extremely well the fact that municipalities such as Scarborough have been given the responsibility to plan their communities with their citizens, and that's exactly what you've done. Now this power is being taken away from you and the other municipalities across the province of Ontario in a very important aspect of planning. I just hope the government is listening.

Mrs Trimmer: It's not so much taken away as that this level is imposing its own will over and above ours. They are impacting what we have done without their having to go to the community in the way we have and without conforming to their own rules under the Planning Act. So it's an imposition plopped right over the top.

Mr David Johnson: There was a suggestion that perhaps the provincial members of Parliament should conduct the fair hearings rather than the municipalities.

Mrs Trimmer: I think that would be wonderful.

Mr David Johnson: Would you endorse that?

Mrs Trimmer: I think that would be great.

Mr David Johnson: There was a suggestion from the minister herself that the official plans and the zoning bylaws needn't be changed. They wouldn't be in conformance but just leave them in non-conformance.

Mrs Trimmer: As long as the government makes it very clear that we may do that. We are required under those plans to make them conform, and to make them conform, we have to make them conform to Metro plan. And we are required to go through the fair hearing process, which I think in most instances is appropriate. But it becomes a total farce when the government says, "Okay, this is the way it's going to be, folks. Now you can come in and we'll listen to you," knowing full well that whatever they say won't make a bit of difference.

Mr David Johnson: I think you've taken the right approach, that the plan should be clear for the property owners.

Mrs Trimmer: That's right.

Mr David Johnson: You have to go through this farce, I guess, and it needs to be defined.

The final question I'll probably get in here is that it's an important point that you've made. You've done your own survey.

Mrs Trimmer: Yes.

Mr David Johnson: The government claims to have surveys that show that two thirds of the people are in favour, but it didn't get down into the details; it didn't get down into various conditions. Your survey shows that people only favour basement apartments or accessory apartments under certain conditions. Maybe you could tell me what you think those conditions are that people want, such as, I presume, a right of entry, such as the ability to evict the tenant from hell. Can you be specific as to what conditions people are expecting before they would support accessory apartments?

Mrs Trimmer: We'd be happy to send you copies of this. Let me see: controls are important; form of control; parking; appearance; no major change; spacing -- they didn't want too many on one street; owner-occupancy -- the home owner has to live in the house.

Mr David Johnson: I'm sure you'll send us a copy of that.

Mrs Trimmer: Yes. We can send you a number of copies of this.

The Chair: Just to be helpful, I'll ask the clerk. He will see that all members have it distributed to them.

Mrs Trimmer: Yes, certainly. Do you want them sent here, and they're distributed, or do you want them sent separately?

The Chair: If you just send them to the clerk, he can do that administrative work for you.

Mrs Trimmer: I'd be very pleased to do that.

Mr Gordon Mills (Durham East): Welcome, your worship. You and I had some public forum discussion on Bill 90 way back when, right?

Mrs Trimmer: I remember.

Mr Mills: I see that your plans and ideas haven't changed. To save time -- we've been bombarded with all kinds of points of view at this committee and one of the gentleman who came here was a well known planner, David Hulchanski. He's a professor at the University of Toronto.

Mrs Trimmer: Sorry, I've never heard of him.

Mr Mills: He gave us a paper.

Mrs Trimmer: He's so well known I haven't heard of him.

Mr Mills: He's very well known -- Housing for All.

Mrs Margaret Marland (Mississauga South): He's a real --

Mr Mills: He goes on to say -- it's my time, Mr Chair.

Mr George Mammoliti (Yorkview): Mr Chair, do we have to put up with this?

Mrs Marland: Yes, you do.

Mr Mills: It's my time.

The Chair: It was going fairly well.

Mrs Marland: That's why he's at university.

The Chair: Order.

Mr Mills: He told us about apartments in houses and he said, "Although the practice increasingly recognizes a problem, exclusionary planning is now entrenched and sophisticated." That's what the professor said.

I'm wrestling with what I'm going to do. Then some of your citizens came and appeared before this committee from the Scarborough Access to Permanent Housing Committee. They come here and said something that really shot me back on my heels. They said that at a meeting, in front of your council, a member of your council told them that he didn't feel certain people of African origin would fit into his community and that if basement apartments were legalized, his community would be overrun by such persons.

So they're all caught in a dilemma. The professor says it's exclusionary, your own people say it is and you're telling me that you say you never closed the door on apartments in houses.

Mrs Trimmer: Wait a moment.

Mr Mills: Okay. I'm waiting.

Mrs Trimmer: Let me deal with this very specifically. I don't know who the councillor was who made that comment. I can say very specifically that this comment was not made at a council meeting.

Mrs Marland: It was at the fair hearing.

Mrs Trimmer: It was not said at a fair hearing in a public forum. Whether it was said privately to one of those individuals, I don't know, but certainly that comment was not made at a public fair hearing.

Mr Mills: Another deputant at a Scarborough council meeting said he didn't want coloured people living next to him in a basement apartment and these people said you didn't challenge that.

Mrs Trimmer: At a fair hearing, let me make --

Mr Cordiano: Mr Chair --

Mr Mammoliti: We want to hear the response to this.

Mr Mills: Come on.

Mrs Trimmer: Let me make it very clear. This government has established the fair hearing process. The fair hearing process is to hear from everyone, not to interrupt them, not to challenge their specific point of view; it is for a fair hearing. We may, and you may not, and these people may not, like what is being said any more than other people may not like what they say, but it's not my job to tell people what they should say. That is not a fair hearing. The whole idea of a fair hearing is to hear what opponents have to say.

This professor says the process is exclusionary. Let me tell you that the way it has been set up by your government allows us to make it exclusionary and it allows us to do it. So if you don't want us to do it, withdraw that. On the other hand, for generations, this government has set the rules that says, "This is the way it can be done," and when we go out to the general public and some of them say, "We like that. That's what we want," then we are obligated under your rules to listen to them. We are supposed to provide a planned community in accordance with the general agreement of the people who are coming in to tell us what they want. This is what we try to do under your rules. If you don't like it, change your rules.

The Chair: Thank you, Mayor Trimmer.

Mr Mammoliti: You made a racist comment. You have a responsibility.


Mrs Trimmer: I made a racist comment? Wait a moment.

The Chair: Order.

Mrs Trimmer: I want him to say what racist comment I made.

Mr Mammoliti: I heard Mr Mills say that somebody had said some racist comments at your hearings.

The Chair: Order. You are out of order, Mr Mammoliti.

Mrs Trimmer: Are you responsible for everything that's said? Are you responsible? Is the Premier responsible for every comment that's made by you lot? Of course he's not. You've made some pretty outrageous comments, and some of the members of your party at times, and the Premier's not responsible for them any more than I am. If we have a fair hearing set up under your rules, we have to allow those people to express their point of view whether you agree with it or not. I made --


The Chair: Order.

Mrs Trimmer: I am saying to you that no racist comments were made in that meeting unless it was made privately to this woman.

The Chair: Thank you for your presentation, Mayor Trimmer.

I would remind all members, interjections are always out of order. They are not helpful to the committee process, they are certainly unhelpful to the electronic Hansard and, further, there should be and shall be no comments from the public galleries during this process. This is an extension of the Legislative Assembly. All comments are inappropriate, all reaction from people at these hearings is inappropriate and people should be helpful to the Chair and allow him to keep the decorum that we all need to conduct this committee business in a reasonable fashion.



Mr Michael Power: My name is Michael Power. I'm the mayor of the town of Geraldton in the great northwest of this province and I'm a vice-president of AMO. With me today I have Linda Dionne, a councillor from the region of Durham and a member of the board of directors of AMO, and Keith Ward, who's director of policy and development, non-profit housing, from the region of Peel and a member of the board of directors.

We don't intend, I don't think, to take the entire half-hour. We'd like to leave a bit of time for some interesting questions following the presentation. I'm going to just do a general overview and my colleagues are going to get into more of the specifics.

May I start by saying we agree that there is a problem, but we don't agree that this bill solves the problem. This is a uniquely important presentation from AMO; firstly, because it's the municipalities that are going to be charged with the implementation of much of this legislation, and it's the municipalities that are going to be on the firing line as a result of any of its failings, either those we see ahead of time or those that come as the legislation comes into force; secondly, as you have found out, because AMO represents the collective voice of municipalities. We know this committee has heard from many municipalities in the course of its hearings and I think you'll find that the views we're putting forward today are similar to the views that have been put forward by all of the other presenters.

We do have copies of our report that the clerk has made available. We don't intend to go over every one of our recommendations, or to go over every aspect of the legislation, because there isn't time today and we believe, in any event, that the members of the committee are perfectly able and capable of reading the report themselves.

May we just briefly have a look at the apartments-in-houses issue. We agree that the government must address the health and safety issues which are related to illegal accessory apartments, but we suggest to you that this is a problem, and it's a problem that must be recognized whether or not an accessory apartment is illegal or legal. It doesn't really matter much if you say the apartment is legal or illegal; it can still be a health and safety problem. You may ask us, how can this be? We say this to you, that there are significant factors which prevent municipalities from being able to ensure health and safety standards are met in all accessory apartments.

Firstly, as you're well aware, municipalities have limited right-of-entry powers. They cannot just enter into an accessory apartment to do an inspection. They must obtain warrants of entry etc, and that doesn't happen in the flip of a pen.

There's the time and the cost and the barriers of enforcing municipal work orders. I'm sure all members of this committee have been made aware of that and you have seen it over the years in the media.

There's the time and problems of going to court to prosecute. There's the difficulty of collecting fines, even when they are imposed. There's the landlord's inability to comply because of lack of resources, and the landlord can quite justifiably, and often does, put that forward and obtain delays.

There are, and this is most important for us, limited municipal resources for ongoing inspections on a very regular basis. There are many municipalities in the 800-and-some across this province that don't have the kinds of staff that are found perhaps in the region of Peel or in the other large urban areas. Even in those areas they don't have, at this point in time perhaps, all of the needed staff in order to fulfil the requirements.

There is also no record or registry of apartments, be they legal or illegal, and if you don't know they're there it's very difficult to inspect them. You have the difficulty of dealing with absentee owners and ensuring that the property standards are maintained.

We suggest to you that this legislation that has been proposed doesn't address these issues and it will not lead to improved living conditions for tenants in legal or illegal accessory units. So you say to us: "What do we propose? How do we make it better?" We would suggest the following to you, in a general overview.

The authority and powers to deal with regulatory issues related to accessory units should be granted to municipalities such as licensing, such as improved right-of-entry powers.

We need mechanisms to address the enforcement problems.

We need changes to the assessment of accessory units to better represent the additional costs of a residential unit. Creating an accessory apartment is not the same as just doing a rec room in your basement, and yet that often is how they are assessed.

We suggest to you that the authority to define local housing intensification policies is appropriate to our municipalities and should be left there; that's where the authority should belong.

The authority for zoning and a continuation of the trend towards greater provincial intrusion: What we see in general is a greater provincial intrusion on municipal responsibilities. Continually, you say, municipalities are not meeting their responsibilities. We say to you we are. We have come to you for some help in helping to meet these responsibilities in an even more responsive and responsible manner and we ask you for your help in that regard. I'll turn over to Linda.

Ms Linda Dionne: Thanks, Michael. I'd like to just give you a very brief background on what went into the preparation of the response by AMO, which I think you've all been circulated.

Since 1991, we've been involved in a very lengthy process, as have the members of this committee and this government, on the discussions of Bill 120, particularly those pertaining to apartments in houses. We've also received over the past two years broad support from our members for the positions we have taken on this issue. As Michael has told you, we're not going through all of those positions, but I think it's extremely important that they be examined by each of you at your own leisure and, of course, we would be more than willing to have further discussions on those particular recommendations.

It is important for me to highlight to you just how carefully thought out these recommendations were, because they certainly were not a knee-jerk reaction that has come from a sprinkling of reactionary municipalities. Probably, out of the 817 responses that we've had, over 700 are really impacted by this legislation and I think one must be cautious about how one reads surveys. I'm very concerned about the nature of a lot of surveys that have been done.

AMO appointed a housing task force in 1991 to deal with the land use planning for housing policy statement and a variety of other housing issues, and the task force has had regular liaison with Ministry of Housing staff, to the benefit of both groups.

The task force developed a position on Bill 90 over the course of several months based, in part, on ongoing dialogue with Ministry of Housing staff and the input of individual municipalities. That position was ultimately adopted by the board and became the main basis for our response to the accessory apartment provisions of Bill 120. The housing task force includes representation of large urban and midsize municipalities, upper- and lower-tier municipalities, university and college towns, and includes staff from legal, planning policy, housing policy, bylaw and other departments as well as a sprinkling of politicians -- the fewer the better, we have found, on our task force. I'm a politician, so I hope you can appreciate that. The board itself, of course, represents all sizes and types of municipalities. The unanimous endorsement of this response should send a very strong signal to your committee.

I'd be happy to answer questions about our response and Keith, at this point in time, will highlight our AMO response to you.


Mr Keith Ward: Thank you, Linda. Mr Chairman, we recognize your time limitations and we do want to leave time for questions. If you want to juggle your schedule, we'll be happy to cooperate, though. We've been at this for a couple of years and a few more hours isn't going to make any difference to us at this stage. I won't even attempt to skip through our formal response or even try to summarize it. The bill is too complex to try to gloss over that way. Rather, we'll just try to pick up some key themes here.

First, we do not believe the two different parts of this bill had sufficient commonality to warrant pulling them together in the one bill. We know you've heard that before, but you're not doing justice to either side of the bill.

Our most important recommendation is one of opposition to the blanket accessory apartment provisions of the Planning Act amendments. Naturally, as was mentioned, we resent the intrusion into what is properly municipal jurisdiction. We believe that this move is premature and that it's contrary to other provincial policy directions and that it is counterproductive to the broader goal of residential intensification which is being strongly supported by this government and was by the previous government.

Throughout the province, many initiatives which have been under development to support residential intensification have simply been put on hold in the face of this bill, which confronts municipalities with enormous uncertainties.

One of these uncertainties is the potential liability which we now face as municipalities. If everything is legal but we can't inspect or we can't effectively enforce standards, we suspect that we will be partially liable for injury or damage which might occur on properties. For sure we're going to be sued. We're a big target. No one in the provincial government has been able to provide any reassurance to us in this regard, and a number of our municipal solicitors are starting to raise the warning bells. These issues must be resolved before this legislation is enacted.

One of the reasons why inspections may not take place even if they're requested is that municipalities do not have the resources to deal with an increase in inspection workload, and this is hardly the environment where we can contemplate hiring new staff to take on this additional workload. Both sides of the bill, the accessory apartment side and the care home side, particularly through the Rental Housing Protection Act amendments, will impact on our administration.

The practicality of the RHPA amendments is dubious as well in other ways. The principle of equivalent treatment of tenants is certainly fine. We accept that principle, at least in broad brushstrokes. But supply considerations are different, and that's acknowledged in the bill itself. The kinds of information available and the conditions which might be used in an RHPA application, which is administered by a municipality, will be extremely difficult to define -- they're certainly not defined in this bill -- and they'll be impossible to administer, in our view.

I think we all agree that we do need more care facilities everywhere across the province. In no small measure that's because of provincial deinstitutionalization efforts without a commensurate increase in community-based care funding.

This bill will really mean, then, a prohibition on conversion or demolition of care facilities. It's going to be impossible to find any conditions which wouldn't result in the prohibition of conversions.

We need to encourage new operations, but anyone considering getting into the business now will look at the cost and the complexity of setting up shop, which are certainly more onerous than for conventional rental housing, and will look at the new controls over landlord-tenant relations and over their income, and they'll find that with the RHPA they can't even get gracefully out once they're in. So anyone logically would say, "Forget it," and that's what we're asking you to do about the RHPA in this bill: Forget it.

Finally, I want to mention what is glaring in its absence from the bill, and that's the regulations. We want to acknowledge and commend the efforts of Ministry of Housing staff -- at least one of them is here whom I recognize -- who have met with the task force repeatedly over the last couple of years. On Bill 90, we made good progress on the regulations together. But we need some formal comfort now. We don't see any piece of paper in front of us that spells out what these regulations are. Bad regulations will turn what is a flawed bill into a disaster.

In our report, we offer some specific recommendations on the regulations. We ask that you provide very clear direction on reasonable minimum expectations with regard to the recommendations before they're finalized. Really, we want to see a consultation process set up to settle on the regulations. It's going to take some time to hammer these out.

That concludes our presentation.

Mr David Tilson (Dufferin-Peel): The issue of regulations is one that's crept up in almost all kinds of legislation that come to this place. It's really difficult to consider legislation, as you know, without seeing the regulations and it's a point that's certainly noted, at least by the members on this side of the committee.

I have a question to Mr Power specifically. You were commenting on more powers, to use a play on words, to be granted to municipalities. One of the problems that keeps coming up from municipalities that have come to this committee is the issue of funding. Obviously, municipalities are taxed to the limit, and yet if you're asking for more responsibilities -- and I agree with you -- the question is, how are they going to get paid for?

Mr Power: What we're saying to you in this instance, Mr Tilson, in terms of powers is look at licensing, look at improved right of entry powers so we can go in to inspect with the staff that we have. We're not saying we're going to be able to do the whole thing. What we're suggesting to you is that the aims of the bill, while we support this concept, we believe strongly in the safety of people who live in legal or illegal units, in order to address this, we couldn't do it at the present moment even if we wanted to. That's some of the area we're coming to. Keith, I think you have a little more on that.

Ms Dionne: I have some on that too. What's really of concern to me is not the issue of who pays for what in this legislation but the integrity of the zoning bylaws of the municipalities. The fact that we have official plans which have been adopted by the majority of municipalities in this province is the protection that we as municipalities have always thought was necessary to protect both us and the residents, whom we all represent. The question of who pays is not the question of who pays in finances but who pays in the long term for what happens to our municipalities.

Mr Tilson: That's really what I'm getting at. Obviously, if the increased housing comes about, as is being predicted, the pressures on schools, on municipal services, on inspections alone -- I mean, we had someone from the fire marshal's department come and say that every one of these 100,000 illegal units, if that's the correct figure, must be inspected at least once, and that of course would be the responsibility of the municipalities. That's the sort of issue that I'm concerned about, and I would be interested in hearing your comments as to the effect on the property taxpayer.

Ms Dionne: It will definitely impact the infrastructure that we have, but to the degree that it would be very costly, I don't think so. The real concerns that AMO municipalities have with regard to what you're requesting is basically that we believe that as municipalities we can control those kinds of things, given the advance powers that have already been indicated through the bill as it's gone through this stage that do give us more powers with the building inspections and gives our building officials more power. The questions will be, is it going to be enough and do we still have the real right to go in? I think Keith has more on that one.

Mr Keith Ward: In the relative scheme of things, these costs are not a big part of municipal budgets, although, as Mr Power indicated, a lot of municipalities don't have any inspection capability at all. So it's certainly going to be an issue there. But in absolute terms, any increase in municipal budgets now -- and we see the debates all over the province -- is going to be a real problem. That then puts us into the liability question: What if somebody does ask us to inspect and we can't? That situation will arise.

Mr David Johnson: You've raised a number of good issues today, and the liability issue is one that I think deserves an extra look. There's one about the trust. I'd just quickly like your thoughts on this. Municipalities have planned their municipalities with the people, with the citizens, through a public hearings process over a number of years. This being sort of put upon them, what happens to the trust in the planning process? People buy into a community, they look at a community for certain amenities, they think they have the right to plan their future with their municipal councils. What happens to that trust through this process?


Ms Dionne: What trust? I don't mean to be flippant, but when you don't consult with people and you put out a statement that says that two thirds of the residents of the province of Ontario believe in accessory apartments, they also have a caveat to that, Mr Johnson, and that caveat is: "Not in my backyard. In somebody else's backyard maybe I'd support that, but don't ask me to support it in my neighbourhood."

The absolute essence of any process is to have that input from the members of the community, and not having gone to the community to listen to that, which this committee would probably be very wise to do -- if you want to, you can come to the city of Oshawa, and Gord Mills will tell you that out of the eight municipalities he and I both represent, we all have passed zoning bylaws. We all have passed official plans. We had such input into official plan status, and this province finally granted our official plan status a couple of months ago after a very lengthy process. Why did we go through that process when this legislation registers it as null and void? Why did we do this?

Mr Gary Wilson (Kingston and The Islands): Thank you very much for your presentation. As I say, it represents all of the views of a lot of municipalities and we're pleased to have it, although it has been pointed out there has been extensive consultation on this issue in the life of our government and even before it, because, as you know, in 1989 the housing policy statement required municipalities to take steps to legalize the many illegal apartments in the province.

Ms Dionne, when you speak of surveys, when all is said and done, the survey that matters is where steps have already been taken to do what people want to do. We've heard from many people in these hearings, both householders and tenants, that they want legalized apartments. In the absence of the provisions to make them legal, they have gone ahead and put in illegal apartments, which everybody recognizes is not a good situation. But, again, the housing policy statement asked municipalities to take the steps, and very few have done it in a way that has satisfied many people. So what we're trying to do is bring in reasonable standards for the legalization of apartments in houses, and to bring it into the open so we can have an orderly process about this so there can be accountability.

On your part, what is the reluctance from the municipalities? Why has there been so little action in this regard, in your view?

Ms Dionne: Well, I think that's a very subjective, municipality kind of response, and I'll give you one, if you want one from my municipality. My municipality believes very strongly in its housing statements. My municipality practises what it preaches. It provides housing to a great degree and follows the principles both of the previous government and of this government. What we have not done is needed a hammer over our heads to do it.

Mr Gary Wilson: All right. I see what you mean about subjective. So let's turn to some specific items, namely, the issue of liability.

The registry, which suggests that you can keep on top of apartments in houses if you have them registered: Why would apartments in houses be any different from any other residence in the community, or even anything else the municipality inspects? You seem to be suggesting that the municipality is liable to action if they didn't inspect something, or inspect it and didn't see something. Why would that be any different from any other place in the municipality?

Mr Keith Ward: They aren't, in a legal sense. The issue is that if a single-family house burns down that didn't have an accessory apartment in it, if that house had been constructed fairly recently, it would in fact have been inspected, and if municipal inspectors failed in their duties in that regard, they would be liable.

Mr Gary Wilson: I don't understand then. The way we're setting up with the accessory apartments, if they're built now, once the bill is passed, then they will be meeting the standards.

Mr Keith Ward: But as Mr Power says, the issue here is that you've got a combination of legal and illegal. You're going to continue to have illegal, both newly constructed illegal and a vast stock out there that continues to be illegal, or that would have been illegal until they're brought up to standards, but now you've made them legal from the municipal perspective, which they never were before, and so municipalities will have an obligation or care of duty to go in and inspect them.

Mr Gary Wilson: Just as it should be for any other residence in the community too, I would expect you would agree. We want safe accommodation regardless.

Mr Keith Ward: I agree. No question.

The Chair: But your question really was about the registry, Mr Wilson?

Mr Gary Wilson: Well, it was partly to do with the registry and the inspection, which occurred to me. I don't know why the municipality would be more concerned about apartments in houses.

Ms Dionne: I would think, Mr Wilson, that your government would be very concerned about a registry because you're the ones who are so worried about what's going to happen to the tenants. You'd like to know that they are safe. Wouldn't one think that is the whole process? That's what we're all going through this for, is it not, the protection of those tenants?

Mr Gary Wilson: That's right. We think the Landlord and Tenant Act and the Rent Control Act will give them the safeguards they need. I don't understand why you would expect people in accessory apartments to register when you don't expect home owners to register as well.

Ms Dionne: That is not an AMO position.

Mr Gary Wilson: All I'm saying is, why are you treating them differently?

Ms Dionne: We're not, because we register a lot of things.

Mr Keith Ward: A home is known. I mean, if you look at a house, it's there. It was built to some standards. You don't know if a basement apartment is there, and that's the issue from a safety perspective. Unless there's some kind of registry available, you simply don't know if it's there or not.

Mr Gary Wilson: Well --

The Chair: Thank you, Mr Wilson.

Mr Power: Something in my municipality, which is a very small, northern municipality -- and you may think that this is an issue that really is only an urban issue and doesn't affect the smaller ones --

Mr Gary Wilson: No, no, it's the other side that thinks that. We know it covers --

Mr Power: But it certainly does affect as well, and one of the things that we have found ourselves, in a small municipality, is that we have accessory apartments going into single-family dwellings that we're not aware about until someone tells us of them. I think what we've all been saying to you is that without some method, some ability of knowing about these accessory apartments, be they legal or illegal, we have no way of doing anything about it or enforcing it or inspecting them to ensure that they are safe. Surely this is the issue. We're looking at the safety of people in homes. Be it a single-family dwelling that's inspected under the housing act and under the building authority to ensure that it is safe for a family, surely we also want to ensure that accessory apartments are safe for the people who occupy them. If you don't know they're there, you can't find out if they're safe.

Mr Gary Wilson: And that's why we want to legalize them.

Mr Cordiano: Thank you very much for your presentation. I think the problem is that the government's been living below ground for too long. They've got their head buried in the sand.

Mr Mills: That's Chrétien's style.

Mr Cordiano: I'll leave you out of this, Mr Mills. It's really the minister's fault. She's been living in the sand.

The Chair: Let me go through this again. It's one member at a time and Mr Cordiano has the floor.

Mr Cordiano: Quite simply, it seems only logical, and this notion, just to follow up on this discussion earlier, of why should the municipality inspect an accessory apartment, quite simply the answer is that every other building's been inspected when it went up. I mean, when the building was built it had to have an inspection. At some point, an inspection is necessary. If you don't know that the accessory apartment exists, you're not going to be able to inspect it. That's the first point. You have to have a registration of these units to know that they exist. I cannot see why there shouldn't be an inspection, as there has to be for every other building that goes up in a municipality. I'm agreeing with you, but I think this, just to follow up on that discussion.

Mr Power: We thank you for agreeing with us.

Mr Cordiano: To me, the only right thing to do is to have a registration of these units, and obviously you want that accomplished by some method or mechanism. You've suggested now, and correct me if I'm wrong, that there be a licensing requirement, that the municipality license these units.

Mr Keith Ward: Licensing would automatically set up a registration. That's part of the licensing system, but licensing would also provide an ongoing ability to go back into the properties and make sure that if an order's been issued, for instance, that the order is complied with. So there's a built-in mechanism, through the Municipal Act, that is available to municipalities to control the situation on an ongoing basis.


Ms Dionne: The importance of having a registry is that it should be a local registry. Why the province would want to get into the business of registering apartments in houses at the provincial level is just another bureaucratic nightmare for those of us at a municipality who are going to attempt to make sure there is safety for the persons involved.

The registry is important to the degree that Mr Ward has indicated to you, but it should be a local responsibility. Basically, the thrust of the AMO presentation, which I think you all have, is to leave the responsibility of that kind of organizing of a registry to the municipalities. We're the ones who have to deal with it on a day-to-day basis. How many of you are going to come down and deal with an apartment in a house every time you get a call? I'll tell you, I don't think the residents are going to see very many of you too often, but us, we have to be there for that.

Mr Cordiano: We have enough problems in our constituency offices as it is.

Ms Dionne: I can truly believe that.

Mr Cordiano: I'd like our municipal counterparts to do a little more work as well.

Ms Dionne: Nice try, but if I gave you my job, I'll take yours tomorrow.

Mr Cordiano: That's precisely what I have in mind for you. If you had under this legislation the power to determine where these units might be located in a municipality, as you do now, would there be some way of doing that that's a middle ground; that is to say, that the municipality would still be given the right and the authority to determine, by its own zoning bylaws, where accessory apartments would be located in a municipality?

Ms Dionne: Yes, we believe that's the route to go. That is the compromise position and it should be addressed in the regulations, without question. It's too bad we don't have the regulations to deal with at this point in time as well, but we believe that is the compromise position, that we can accomplish the goals that both of us are setting out to do.

Mr Cordiano: I know Mr Daigeler wants to ask some questions, so I'm going to defer to him.

Mr Hans Daigeler (Nepean): Thanks for your presentation. We've had numerous groups, particularly legal aid clinics, come before us, and the main argument that they have made, in very strong words, is that this is a human rights issue. People have a right to live, essentially, where they want, in all parts of the municipalities. They have said -- I'm using here a quote, because it was said before the committee, applying to Scarborough, in this case, but I'm sure they meant other municipalities as well -- that the municipalities have tolerated zoning apartheid and therefore the provincial government has a responsibility to step in and enforce, as it were, human rights. I'm wondering what your reaction is to that.

Ms Dionne: I have a reaction to that. I sit on a human rights tribunal, so I'll give you a reaction to that. Under the Canadian Human Rights Acts we all are afforded the right to safe accommodation, safe and affordable accommodation, and I think that is a right we must protect. I don't think we're doing anything in opposition to that. I think what we're trying to do is make sure that those safeties, those mechanisms which make sure that safety is accomplished, protect those tenants. I think we all have the same goal. We're just going about it -- I was going to say something, but it's the other way around.

Interjection: Go ahead.

Mr Mills: They'll throw you out.

Ms Dionne: No, Gord tells me they throw you out when you use that kind of language around here.

The Chair: With that, I thank you very much for coming and appearing before us today. Your presentation has been helpful. We will take this bill up clause by clause during the week of March 6.


Mr Stephen Kaiser: My name is Stephen Kaiser. I am president of the Ontario Home Builders' Association and a builder in the Niagara area. With me is Ward Campbell. He is the first vice-president of OHBA and a builder in the Hamilton area.

The main focus of our remarks today will be on the accessory apartment component of Bill 120, but I want to begin with a more philosophical comment on the part of the bill dealing with care homes.

I should state at the outset that OHBA does not have a direct interest in the question of whether care homes are regulated. For the sake of argument, we are prepared to accept the findings of the Lightman report and the conclusion that some form of regulation is desirable.

The question that concerns us is what legislative instruments and what ministries should handle what issues. Unless we are missing something, we see no reason why the Ministry of Housing and the Rent Control Act and the Landlord and Tenant Act should deal with the sort of problems Dr Lightman described. If regulation of care homes is needed, why isn't the Ministry of Health or the Ministry of Community and Social Services preparing the appropriate legislation?

For several years now, the Ministry of Housing has been consolidating legislation that addresses construction standards and bringing it together in the building code. We support this sort of rationalization. We believe it makes sense for the industry and we believe it makes sense for the government. Bill 120 seems to be just the opposite of this rationalization, and we do not like the signal that it is sending.

With respect to the accessory apartment component of Bill 120, there are two concerns we want to address. One of these has to do with planning issues and the other focuses on construction standards. I am going to talk about construction standards and then I will turn things over to Ward to discuss the planning issues.

Just so there's no confusion, I want to say at the outset that there should be standards for accessory apartments. What those standards are is a matter that probably needs to be settled on a case-by-case basis. The design and layout of houses varies. The construction standards for existing houses vary. The location of apartments within homes varies. The number of people who will be in these apartments varies. All of these variables need to be taken into account by the home owner, a contractor and the local home building official when the design of an accessory apartment is being evaluated.

This is not to say that some general guidelines cannot be developed, and OHBA will be happy to work with the Ministry of Housing to develop these guidelines. I might add that this is an exercise that should be pursued regardless of the fate of Bill 120. The public should have information about what features ensure safety in accessory apartments.

When we raise the issue of construction standards, we are not talking about standards for apartments that are actually created in houses. What we are talking about is standards for all new houses that are being built, knowing that some of them may eventually contain accessory apartments. The buzzword for this, if you like, is "conversion readiness." Again, I do not want to be misunderstood. Bill 120 does not contain any amendments to the building code to make houses conversion-ready. But this is a trend that has already started and it is a trend that will accelerate if Bill 120 becomes law.


The most recent round of building code amendments included a very significant modification. This was to change the designation of "basement" from "storage space" to "living space." In turning the basement into living space, the ministry set minimum ceiling height requirements, substantially upgraded the insulation requirements and added new drainage requirements. Each of these new requirements came with a very hefty pricetag. The total cost of these first steps towards conversion readiness was several thousand dollars in each home.

Last month we heard an official from the Ministry of Housing describing some of the amendments that are being considered for the 1995 building code. Among the proposals were a couple of more steps towards conversion readiness. These were noise abatement and accessibility.

In her opening remarks to this committee, the Minister of Housing dismissed our concerns about the cost. She said the income potential from accessory apartments will actually help buyers enter the housing market. Let me suggest to you that this position is unacceptable and should be offensive to the people of Ontario. In effect, the government is forcing home owners to become landlords in making houses prohibitively expensive.

I want to turn to a point that I made earlier. We are not objecting to standards for accessory apartments. We are objecting to universal standards to make every newly built house in Ontario conversion-ready.

As a practical matter, conversion is not a new house construction issue. There are about 100,000 apartments already in existence. As well, most of the apartments that will be created in the foreseeable future will be created in homes that already exist.

As a matter of principle, if a home buyer wishes to derive income by building an accessory apartment in his or her home, that home owner should make the investment that is required to earn that income. It is a straightforward business proposition and should be treated as such. There is absolutely no reason why every new home buyer in Ontario should be saddled with the expenses connected with accessory apartments.

I will turn things over to Ward now to talk about planning issues that are connected with accessory apartments.

Mr Ward Campbell: As I am sure you are all aware, the government is in the midst of a comprehensive review of the planning and approvals process in Ontario.

This review started with the creation of the Commission on Planning and Development Reform in Ontario. The commission spent two years travelling around the province, listening to various stakeholders, reviewing research, writing discussion papers and finally releasing a comprehensive report that recommended sweeping changes to provincial policies and the planning process. In response to the commission, the government has already released provincial policy statements and has announced that it will table amendments to the Planning Act.

The provincial policy statements represent the culmination of two or three years of extensive discussion and interministerial review. I would like to direct your attention to the third statement in the housing policy, which says:

"Opportunities for small-scale residential intensification ( in houses...) will be provided in all areas permitting residential use, except where infrastructure is inadequate or there are significant physical constraints."

This gives rise to a curious situation. On November 23, the Minister of Housing tabled amendments to the Planning Act that would forbid official plans from containing provisions that prohibit accessory apartments. Then, on December 14, less than a month later, a new housing policy statement was released that would require official plans to provide opportunities for accessory apartments where infrastructure is adequate. Which is it?

The Minister of Municipal Affairs has said he wants to set out the government's expectations and requirements more clearly; he wants to increase the consistencies and predictability of the process. You can, I hope, sympathize with the industry's scepticism when ad hoc and apparently incompatible changes to the legislation are allowed to occur simultaneously with and outside of this systematic review.

The Ministry of Housing pre-emptively recanted its own policy statement. It should be noted that the commission explicitly addressed the issue of as-of-right zoning that would permit changes such as intensification. The commission rejected this, saying, "It is a matter of municipal choice."

We have met with ministry officials on several occasions to discuss the impact that accessory apartments might have on municipal infrastructure. By municipal infrastructure, I mean the whole gamut of services ranging from sewer and water, running to things like parking, libraries and recreation, and ending with social services.

In response, these ministry officials paint us a picture of a fluctuating population. Couples with no children move into a new subdivision. Then the children arrive and the population goes up. Then the children leave and the population goes down, and so on. The effect of accessory apartments, we are told, is to fill in these valleys. The population peak will not be exceeded, but the valleys will be eliminated.

This sounds fine in theory and it may even work for a street, but I have not heard anybody talk about the pressures of growth on the community as a whole. It is likely that it is just these valleys on individual streets and in subdivisions that take some of the pressure off other parts of the community that are growing. If people start travelling a couple of kilometres to use an underutilized park or library, this warns the municipality of shifting needs and provides an outlet while the community resources are reallocated. So if we assume that accessory apartments will not lead to an increase in peak population in individual developments, there are potential problems for the community as a whole.

Not everybody believes that accessory apartments will only fill in the valleys. We have been involved in a series of meetings to discuss parkland dedications, and it is very clear that many people believe accessory apartments will result in higher overall populations. These people are already asking for larger parkland dedications in response to Bill 120.

We are not questioning the merits of intensification. All we are saying is that it should not proceed without controls that can monitor its impact and, if necessary, impose restraints. In our opinion, legislation that removes or weakens these controls is not compatible with responsible planning.

Just to conclude, care homes are a unique type of accommodation and should be dealt with in appropriate legislation. The accessory apartment component of the legislation contradicts the ministry's own housing policy and in any event is fraught with unknowns. Bill 120 should not be passed.

Stephen and I will be happy to answer your questions.

Mr Gary Wilson: Thank you very much for your presentation. It covered both parts of Bill 120. I'd like to begin there because Mr Kaiser raised the issue first, and of course, Mr Campbell, you referred to it.

No doubt you know the Lightman commission's recommendations on which Bill 120 is based. It is very much a housing issue. In fact, where Lightman recommends that rest homes be subject to part IV of the Landlord and Tenant Act, which of course is a major part of the bill, he said that the importance of ensuring this goal -- that is, the goal that residents in rest homes, or care homes as we call them, have rights that other tenants have -- cannot be overstated. So certainly the right to protection and security of tenure as well as the protection of privacy and other rights that most tenants in our province have, they should be entitled to as well.

As far as the health issues that you raised, you're probably aware too that there are developments under way, and they're long-standing too -- I'm thinking of the long-term care redirection, for example, the provisions under things like the Advocacy Act, the Substitute Decisions Act, the Consent to Treatment Act -- that are dealing with the issues of the care part of the accommodation. So I think it's fair to say Housing has a responsibility in this area and it's very appropriate that it be part of Bill 120. Would you care to comment further on that?

Mr Kaiser: In regard to the Lightman report, we agree with the problems as outlined. What we are suggesting, though, is that those problems should be dealt with not within the confines of Bill 120 but by the Ministry of Health or by the Ministry of Community and Social Services.

Mr Gary Wilson: I'd like to turn to other parts that you raised in your presentation. Mr Campbell, you talked about the distribution of people in a community and how you handle that, the peaks and valleys I think you called it, and whether people move from one area of the community to where services are -- sorry, move on a temporary basis, say, by driving there or getting there some other way, as opposed to living in the area, which is what accessory apartments would allow, that the people would live near the services as the valley's population changes, as the demographics of a neighbourhood change. I guess this is what 120 is seeing, that there's a more balanced approach to providing the services people need, and this is what accessory apartments will allow.

Mr Campbell: For a particular street, you might be right: You're using the services on that street. What we're saying is I don't think anybody has studied the effects on the overall community. Where they have a valley in the one neighbourhood, you could have above a peak in another neighbourhood. What we're saying is that those services will go to help alleviate the problems in that neighbourhood.


It should be a municipal decision whether they want to allow intensification in a certain area, because they have the infrastructure to do it. If the infrastructure's not there, they shouldn't be allowed to put basement apartments in. It's just going to put a demand on services that are not available.

Mr Gary Wilson: Isn't the problem that people are making that decision whether the municipality allows them or not, and that's why we have so many illegal apartments in houses now? That is completely unregulated or unplanned. You don't know they are there, so you have no idea what the demands on the services are going to be.

Mr Campbell: All you're doing now, the way we look at it, is allowing them to do it anywhere they want, and it's just going to make the problem worse.

Mr Gary Wilson: That's not true.

Mr Campbell: If people are breaking the law now, we can't stop them. To make it legal for them doesn't necessarily solve the problem.

Mr Kaiser: Perhaps I could respond to that. Being involved in the planning process, I'm currently trying to get, for an example, a 48-unit town house project piece of property rezoned. It's taken four years to date in terms of meeting with the municipality, the neighbours and the community in regard to the impact of that proposal in that neighbourhood: parking, sewage allotment, water. All those issues have to be addressed, and that's for 48 housing units. All of a sudden, under this legislation, if this project was up, those units could be doubled. That's very, very dangerous in terms of the process.

Mr Cordiano: I found your perspective on this rather enlightening. As I was listening to you, I kept thinking that dealing with the Minister of Housing and the Minister of Municipal Affairs must be like dealing with the two-headed monster, because one is going one way and one is going the other, and they're both trying to eat each other up.

I think that what you're telling us is quite frankly that there are inherent contradictions in the planning process as set forward by the consultative group and the Ministry of Housing. Obviously, this perspective that you bring to us with the impact that may result on an entire community is not really something I've heard brought forward to the committee yet. I think it is rather interesting, because quite frankly what we've heard from most people is that infrastructure in almost all cases in all municipalities is there to accommodate the additional population. Your view is obviously that is not the case, given the peaks and valleys, as you described them, in population.

Mr Campbell: What we're saying is that it may not be the case in all situations. That's what we're objecting to, the fact that you're making this as-of-right anywhere. There are a lot of situations where the infrastructure is not going to be there. The Sewell commission recommended that it be where the municipality felt the infrastructure was there to carry it. So we support that. If there are opportunities for intensification, we support it. We don't think it should be as-of-right anywhere in Ontario, because there are a lot of cases it's going to happen where there isn't. There are areas where there will be no basement apartments; there will be areas where there will be 100% basement apartments. It has to be regulated.

Mr Cordiano: Really, what it comes down to is that the municipalities should be allowed to continue to do the job that they do now, and that is to determine to what extent capacity does exist and to what extent the zoning bylaws that are in place make any sense to this type of planning.

Mr Kaiser: That's correct, and I've got another example, if I could, to illustrate that. Another builder down in our area wanted to put in a small cul-de-sac with six semidetached units, so we'd have 12 housing units. MOE said there just wasn't the capacity in the system to accept any more units in that area; hence, the proposal was turned down. The builder was not allowed to build the semidetached units. That same trunk sewer line has hundreds and hundreds of homes on it right now that this legislation would allow basement apartments to be created in.

Mr Cordiano: I obviously have more time. Let me sneak one more in there. They're really intensely in conversation there.

Did the Ministry of Housing, or the Ministry of Municipal Affairs, for that matter, consult with you on Bill 120?

Mr Kaiser: We've been involved in the consultation process with the Ministry of Housing in regard to this for a number of years, yes. We have made our concerns known prior to it.

Mr Cordiano: But prior to the introduction of Bill 120 in the form in which you it see before us, in omnibus legislation, did the ministry make an effort to consult with you?

Mr Kaiser: Not in regard to this specific bill, no, but the issue --

Mr Cordiano: So they at no time told you that this bill would be combined with Dr Lightman's recommendations in an omnibus piece of legislation?

Mr Kaiser: That's correct.

Mr Cordiano: And obviously your view is that the two bills are not compatible and that they should be separate.

Mr Campbell: We feel they're separate issues.

Mr Cordiano: Okay, thank you.

Mr David Johnson: We think they should be separate issues as well, and I think your comments with regard to the planning are bang on. When we talk about the Sewell commission it's interesting that Sewell didn't suggest that the province get involved in the intricacies of municipal planning. Sewell said, and this is a report that the government seems to have a lot of faith in, that the province should set overall policies and then leave the planning to the municipalities, and here it's doing exactly the opposite.

Mr Campbell: It's confusing to the industry, there's no question.

Mr David Johnson: It's confusing to municipalities, your industry, everybody, I'm sure. It seems to me the main point here may be that there's some irony involved in that the government is apparently doing this to provide more affordable housing, and yet your message, from your experience, is clearly that in setting up for this what it's doing is making housing more expensive. The actions that they've already taken in terms of the ceiling height in the basements, I guess, in terms of the extra insulation, in terms of water --

Mr Campbell: Drainage.

Mr David Johnson: -- the drainage around the outside, and those kinds of things, and I guess your concern is water sprinkling in the future, as a compulsory, may be a very expensive component. So here they are, by putting these extra requirements on homes, forcing the price up and forcing the price of a home out of the reach of thousands of people who live in the province of Ontario. This is some irony.

Mr Kaiser: That's right. I heard the group before us say that they believe that Ontarians should have the right to decent and affordable housing. We certainly back that and that's part of our mission statement, that each and every Ontarian has the right to decent, affordable housing.

But as these changes are made to the building code for this conversion readiness which I spoke of, we're adding thousands of dollars to the cost of new housing within the province and yet only a small fraction of those units built will actually be utilized for conversion into basement apartments.

Mr David Johnson: So it should be those units that should pay for it, and not every one of them.

Mr Kaiser: It should be the owner of the building at the time he makes that decision on whether it is financially viable to sink $20,000, $25,000 into his basement and make it an apartment.

Mr Tilson: I have one question. I watch the way that you people must have your i's dotted and t's crossed when you have to prepare plans of subdivision and proceed in the manner of constructing houses, what with considering roads, sewage, water, aside from the cost of meeting building code requirements, but you're really put through the hoops and in fact I'm amazed that your report isn't more cynical than perhaps it could be.

The question that I have is that considering the hoops that you are put through in developing new housing, and I'm thinking specifically of residential housing, single-family, town houses etc, is the game going to be changed now, when municipalities have to look at sewage capacity and water capacity? Are there any rules now, or what are you going to do?

Mr Campbell: This is one of the questions that we've raised all along. Are the municipalities now going to say, "Each of these houses could have two units in them, so we have to have double the sewer capacity and double the size of the pipe and double the water capacity, again adding to the cost of all housing in Ontario when maybe 5% of the units will have an apartment in them"? They'll look at that, they will. They're already doing it with the parkland dedication. You know that the other services are coming next, and again, it'll raise the cost of housing in Ontario.


Mr Tilson: But I'm not looking at the cost of housing; I'm just talking about putting these things together. I know what you have to do to put it together now. I don't see how it can possibly be done, quite frankly. Cost is one issue. It's almost an impossible situation because conceivably every house -- let's say you had a development with single-family homes. Every one of those houses, which I doubt if that could happen -- Mr Mills I'm sure will jump on me for that -- but there's no question that you have to raise that possibility, particularly in university towns.

Mr Kaiser: You're absolutely right. Let's go back to the 48 town house units. An unscrupulous developer, within the act, as I see it, could negotiate for the 48 units, have parking for 48 units, sewage allotment for 48 units and convert that thing as soon as it's up and all of a sudden you've doubled the number of units and the rental income within the building.

The Chair: Thank you, gentlemen, for appearing today. We appreciated your presentation and your time.


Mr Tom Taylor: My name is Tom Taylor. I am a member of the Newmarket Heritage Neighbourhood Association. This is Marilyn Pontuck, a member of the East Gwillimbury Heights Ratepayers Association. We are both from the town of Newmarket and you've had a submission from the town of Newmarket to this committee on the 10th, I believe it was, of this month.

I've asked the gentleman just to pass around some pictures and also some reports. The reason I'm doing that is to give you an idea of the interest that the people in these areas have. We had a meeting approximately a year and a half ago and I guess close to 200 people came out to that meeting from the various areas involved. They were then asked to give their comments on what took place.

What you have before you, and I would ask that they be passed around, are four reports that individuals or couples within the associations took the time to do their homework on and to prepare back to our parent body. The content is very important to us as associations, but I think to yourselves it's important because I think it gives an indication to the extent that the people themselves are interested and wanted to in fact have input into it.

We're here today to explain to you the necessity to legalize and require registration for all units in multiple dwellings and give municipalities the power to inspect all multiple units on an as-of-right basis.

The East Gwillimbury Heights Ratepayers Association and the Newmarket Heritage Neighbourhood Association are made up of home owners and tenants who are interested in keeping and improving neighbourhoods they can enjoy and be proud of. To this end, submissions have been made to the Ministry of Housing, the Housing minister and on an ongoing basis to the town of Newmarket. This is done by people in these neighbourhoods on a totally volunteer basis, with no financial or other forms of help outside their own associations. These people have no political associations and do not have a political agenda, only a deep concern for their families and their homes.

Mr John Dowson has done a tremendous amount of work through research, meetings, letter writing and generally spearheading the work that has been done. He is the person who should be sitting here, but he is unable to be here because of a serious operation he just recently underwent.

We are familiar with the submission made to this committee by the town of Newmarket on January 20 and concur completely with its contents. Our purpose today is to put a different face on these concerns and enable you, the committee members, to see the situation with our eyes. Our eyes are the ones to see the conditions in our neighbourhoods. Your Bill 120 directly affects our daily lives.

The recommendations from you, the members of this committee, will affect the regulations that will govern the practical implementation of Bill 120. While we accept the principle of intensification, it is important that you understand the ramifications of its practical application.

I am a past president of the children's aid society, and I am also the past chairman of the affordable housing committee within the town of Newmarket, which was one of the first committees in the province of Ontario. It was very successful and it was used as a model by other municipalities as far away as Alberta and British Columbia. I'm also the past chairman of the social services for the region of York.

I mention this only because you've had submissions from various organizations such as the Scarborough Housing Work Group, the Inclusive Neighbourhoods Campaign and the children's aid society community forum, being very active in promoting passage of Bill 120. But in all of their literature, without exception, they refer to the safe and healthy conditions, and we totally agree with that. And the reason I mentioned my own background was because I can understand where they're coming from, but the application of Bill 120 I don't think is as simplistic as it's made to seem.

A letter dated April 28, 1993, a copy of which is in your package, from the Ministry of Housing to Mr John Dowson, stated that the average conversion rate to be expected would be 15%, although the rate in the city of Toronto is 20%. An average number like 15% does not seem to be a significant problem. However, this does not reflect the extent to which specific neighbourhoods will vary from this average. "Average" I think is a word which can be used in many ways. After all, a man standing with one foot in a bucket of boiling water and the other in a bucket of ice can be said to be, on average, comfortable.

In fact, in some areas, as has been documented for the town of Newmarket, the intensification increase is already between 30% and 50%. On some of the streets, where Marilyn and I live, that intensification already has been documented and it's running at 50%. This has already caused significant problems, and it is reasonable to expect that the Newmarket experience will occur across the province, causing serious neighbourhood and long-term social problems. What we'd like to do is just try to illustrate how it affects us on a day-to-day basis.

The water supply: Due to decreased water pressure, you can no longer bathe or shower yourselves or your children during the two daily peak consumption periods, and that is happening in the areas where the intensification has been the greatest. To get a feeling of that, I would ask committee members, tomorrow morning don't have a bath or shower and come here and see how you like it. You may not have too many people show up to your meetings in future.

The sewage line capacity: The size of a line on any street is based on specific population densities. If you add 30% to 50% to that density the inevitable will happen: The sewage backs up into the houses, and this is happening on our streets.

Parking: As can be seen from the photographs that you have seen, cars are parked on the front lawns, on the road, on the sidewalks and on the boulevards. With many streets having no sidewalks, or sidewalks on one side only, children cannot walk at the side of the road and are forced to compete with the traffic.

The safety element: To live in a basement apartment or in one on a second floor with access only through the existing dwelling, as is permitted in your Bill 120, is a setup for disaster, as Catherine and Tyler McNutt would tell you if they could. They died in their basement apartment when all the other occupants of the house got out safely on January 2 of this year.

Safety cannot be ensured unless you permit as-of-right access to the municipalities to enforce the statutes that are presently in existence.

Other issues such as schools, parks, the effect on local taxation by not allowing lot levies, even though you do allow them for granny flats: Long-term social costs could be elaborated on but time does not permit us to do so.

The recommendations I think are pretty simple and straightforward. Recognize that all the issues before this committee, except for the economic ones, can be solved by doing two things:

(1) Legalize and require registration for any existing and future residential units, as set forth in Bill 120 amendment to section 1 of the Planning Act; and

(2) Recognize the integrity of our municipalities by passing legislation to permit municipalities to inspect on an as-of-right basis and take any other actions needed to maintain healthy neighbourhoods.

I think it is essential that Bill 120 be amended to enable municipalities to ensure the safety of multiple units and to preserve the health and safety of our streets and neighbourhoods.

I would just like to stress -- I've sat here and listened to the last two presentations and I have received five other presentations that have been made to your committee -- that the face we're trying to put on it may be simplistic inasmuch as it affects things directly, but that is how it affects us on a day-to-day basis. I've heard the discussions about the average populations, the Planning Act and many other things, and what we were trying to do was relate to you how in fact it does affect us on a day-to-day basis. Do you have anything else to add, Marilyn?

Ms Marilyn Pontuck: No.


Mr David Johnson: Thank you very much for this deputation. I'm sure you've read through Bill 120 very carefully, so I certainly appreciate your comments on your second point, which is that we should respect the integrity of the municipalities and give them the authority and the power to inspect units on an as-of-right basis and take the actions that are needed to make them safe and healthy etc.

It's the government's claim that through Bill 120 they do give municipalities power to ensure the safety of apartments. I would like your views on that, since you've obviously delved into this quite deeply.

Mr Taylor: I guess the point being made, getting back to the beginning of it, is the integrity of our municipalities. Planning has been a municipal function for some 40 years now, and nobody knows the ins and outs of a municipality better than those people who are directly there.

Mr Wilson, earlier on, was talking about the averages on streets and so on. This bill obviously goes right across the province of Ontario, to small municipalities, to cities, to whatever, and the people who can best apply the Planning Act and the standards in the Planning Act are those people who are directly involved in it, not the people who are sitting here, who represents 20 or 25 municipalities in the entire province.

When I refer to the integrity of the municipalities, that is that the Planning Act has been in existence for an awful long time. They have built up a great deal of expertise in the official plans and in the zoning bylaws, and I think it is properly given to them to interpret and to apply the zoning standards.

I don't think there's a comment that you can make that would take away from the fact that on Marilyn's street or on the street around the corner from her, 50% of those homes have been converted. I don't know how you would possibly word Bill 120 to take into account those types of things which are happening.

Ms Pontuck: The effect on our neighbourhood is dramatic. Our neighbourhood is now commonly known as Dogpatch, to give you an idea of what our neighbourhood has turned into with this kind of intensification.

Mr David Johnson: I certainly appreciate your views on this. The municipalities are saying that the provincial government, through Bill 120, isn't respecting their integrity and isn't giving them powers to come to grips with some of the problems that, undoubtedly, you're facing. The concern is that we'll be encouraging more basement apartments, and municipalities will not have the right of entry. They certainly don't under this legislation; there's no question about that.

Mr Taylor: Bill 120 does not really affect the practical application of the job that the municipalities have to do.

Mr David Johnson: That's right, yes.

Mr Taylor: Under no circumstance.

Mr David Johnson: It would be equally as tough and the problem will be more pervasive.

Notwithstanding that, it seems to me, if I understand your position, it's a very generous one. You're saying give the municipalities the authority, which is a very commonsense sort of approach, and then go ahead and legalize all the apartments. You're not putting any other strings on it, I gather.

Mr Taylor: No. I think by doing those things you will find that an awful lot of -- in Marilyn's area, in the one street that we had canvassed, the amount of absentee landlords was unbelievable, and they were the worst situations.

Mr David Johnson: Absolutely.

Mr Taylor: They were just intolerable.

Mr Tilson: I have one question. The photos you passed around were interesting, particularly a couple of photographs that had piles of garbage and waste outside. It is interesting that from time to time municipalities get concerned in their planning process -- and it all does get back to the planning process. If you're going to do something, plan it. Just don't go in willy-nilly and come-what-may.

There is one municipality in my area that has a two-bag policy for garbage. There's always been the fear that Municipal Affairs will not allow plans of subdivision until municipalities have their waste under control. In other words, where are they going to put their waste?

So it is interesting. You've just drawn another issue, which I must confess I hadn't thought of, that is, the disposal of waste when you see more people in particular communities piling up waste on the sides of roads. In fact, those pictures are almost graphic. It's just a comment that I'd like; I don't know whether your group has thought about that. It's just the simple issue of disposal of waste.

Ms Pontuck: Well, there'd be no way you could limit the number of bags going out as long as you have the number of people, the intensification you have. People make garbage and the more people you have, the more garbage you have. If you're going to allow neighbourhoods like mine to intensify by 50%, you're going to get a lot of garbage.

Mr Tilson: It still boils down to the issue of planning. Municipalities must plan for schools, for water, for sewage and, yes, garbage. It's just another issue that I don't think the government has thought about in putting forward this legislation.

Ms Pontuck: And unless the municipalities have the power to register these apartments and see that they're being reasonably used, there's no way they can do that planning.

Mr Mills: Thank you for coming here. I listened to you and I looked at the photos too, and I can tell you that in Durham region where I live, we have some days when you can put out everything, and I could take photographs of every single-family dwelling in my neighbourhood with the same pile of garbage.

Ms Pontuck: This is common occurrence.

Mr Taylor: We didn't come here to try to deceive you, Mr Mills.

Mr Mills: I want to talk to you about the parking. You're showing me some photographs, and again I can tell you that parking in the riding I represent is as intense as that because there are four or five teenagers living at home. Right on the street where I live there are four or five cars. So to say that basement apartments create parking problems, I don't agree with you.

Ms Pontuck: We've got the teenagers living upstairs, and the additional tenants and their cars downstairs, and one-car driveways.

Mr Mills: Okay. I want to talk to you about safety. We had before this committee this week the acting fire marshal of Ontario. He knows fire stuff, right? His comments don't really jibe with what you're saying here about safety. He said there are absolutely no statistics available in the province of Ontario that suggest -- in fact just the opposite -- that there are more fires in basement apartments and more people die as a result of fires in them. So those statistics that you say there -- you say that a second floor is a setup for disaster, and the acting fire marshal of the province didn't agree with those statistics.

Ms Pontuck: If you were to come and look at the basement apartments in our neighbourhood, I think you might agree with us because --

Mr Mills: I listen to the fire marshal; that's what he told me.

Ms Pontuck: Has he come and looked at our neighbourhood?

Mr Mills: The guy is obviously an authority on fire and safety in the province, I would think, or else he wouldn't be in that position, and he said that as far as basement apartments in the province were concerned, he couldn't see that it presented any greater problem for safety and fire protection than in any single-family dwellings.

Ms Pontuck: Perhaps if they're built to standards that can be inspected, that would be true, but that doesn't appear to be the case right now.

Mr Mills: I think my colleague wants to speak.

Mr Taylor: Could I just comment to that? Mr Mills, the fire chief in the town of Newmarket, who I'm sure, recognizing what you were saying in terms of the fire marshal being very familiar with the province of Ontario, is probably more aware and more conversant with the town of Newmarket, and if you look at the submission by the town of Newmarket previously, he very strongly says that they are a disaster.

Mr Mills: The authority for the province is the fire marshal.

Mr Gary Wilson: Thank you very much for your presentation. I guess the thing that seems clear, though, is that the conditions you described have evolved under the provisions of planning that exists now, so I don't see why Bill 120 would affect that. They've developed there. What we're trying to do is to regulate it, and many of the things that you've raised, in fact, 120 is addressing.

Ms Pontuck: Or will legalize.

Mr Gary Wilson: In the first place, you can only put one apartment in one unit, a detached or a semi-detached, as it's laid out in the bill. As it is now, you don't know, because they're illegal. There's no process to monitor what's happening. So in some of the cases in your neighbourhood, it will help things.

Ms Pontuck: Yes, but Bill 120 will legalize these same units, and they're just as unsafe, the intensification is just as bad, the problems we're having with sewer and water.

Mr Gary Wilson: That's not true. There are conditions laid out that they can't be put in place without regard to whether services, for instance, can take the added units. It's the same as any new development, and this is one of the considerations. If a municipality turns down, say, an application for an apartment in a house but then grants development in the same area, there seems to be a contradiction there; that is, if they turned down the apartment because there are no services or you've reached the limit on services. The municipality still has that right to monitor its capacity. It only makes sense that you'd want to have orderly --

Mr Taylor: Mr Wilson, can I understand you? Are you saying that if I own a house on street A, and I want to put an apartment in my house on street A, if the line running down outside my house on street A is not adequate, I cannot do it? Is that what you're saying?

Mr Gary Wilson: That's right, if you apply it to the municipality. We're legalizing it so the municipality has those factors.

Mr Taylor: Where does it say that in Bill 120?

Mr Tilson: Bill 120 doesn't say that, my friend.

Mr Taylor: I can't find that anywhere. I heard you mention this before, and I'm at a loss.

Mr Gary Wilson: The legislation provides for standards. That's the whole purpose of the legislation.

Mr Taylor: Where are the standards, then? I'm sorry.

Mr Gary Wilson: They're going to be covered in the regulations.

Mr Taylor: So what you're saying is that this will be in the regulations? Is that what I'm understanding you to say?

Mr Gary Wilson: To allow municipalities to apply reasonable health and safety standards, as well as --

Mr Derek Fletcher (Guelph): And the fire code.

Mr Gary Wilson: The fire code will be there as part of the safety, but there's also a provision that, just like any other applications, the infrastructure has to be able to take it.

Ms Pontuck: What will happen to neighbourhoods like mine where these illegal apartments already exist well beyond the level they should?

Mr Gary Wilson: If that's true, they have to --

Mr Fletcher: Meet the standards.

Mr Gary Wilson: -- meet the standards, exactly. If they don't, if a house has two apartments, the bill doesn't legalize them. Only one would be legal.

Ms Pontuck: But we have a 50% intensification. The sewer lines, the entire infrastructure is unable to handle that. Will you say, "Okay, 35% of you current landlords have to stop renting"? Is that what you're saying?

Mr Gary Wilson: It's up to the municipality. After all, the municipality should have been looking after those issues now.

Ms Pontuck: But they can't because they're illegal; they have no right of entry.

Mr Fletcher: Yes, they do.

Mr Gary Wilson: No, they have a right of entry; of course they have.

Mr Taylor: How?

Mr Gary Wilson: Through a search warrant. If it's a legal apartment, after all, what could be more --

Mr Taylor: I'm sorry. Have you gentlemen tried to get a search warrant? Our municipality has tried time and time again, and you cannot get the search warrant.

Mr Gary Wilson: Well, the provisions are there. In any case, Bill 120 doesn't affect that, though. I don't understand why you would think that 120 is going to worsen that situation. It just regulates it.

Mr Taylor: We are in favour of regulations.

Mr Gary Wilson: Well, you'll get it.

Mr Fletcher: The fire marshal can enter any time without a warrant.

Mr Taylor: The fire marshal?

Mr Fletcher: Yes.

Mr Mills: Any time.

Mr Taylor: All right, the local fire department can't; the fire marshal can. You get a hold of the fire marshal's department and see what their backlog is. Our municipality tried it. Their backlog is six to eight months before they can appear in our municipality, so don't sit there and say the fire marshal can get you into an apartment. You've got to wait six months.

Mr Gary Wilson: Or his deputy, which is a fire chief, as I understand it.


Mr Gary Wilson: Some 100,000 illegal apartments isn't a nightmare?

Mr Taylor: Our fire department is not the fire marshal's office.

Mr Gary Wilson: Okay, so let the people live in illegal and unsafe conditions.

The Chair: We appreciated your presentation. The committee will be in recess till 2 o'clock this afternoon, when we will continue to hear public deputations.

The committee recessed from 1205 to 1402.

Mr Mills: I have a small motion I'd like to make in so far as the public hearings on Tuesday, February 15, in respect to Bill 21 are concerned. I understand there is time available, and my colleague Mr Wessenger, whose bill this is, and I would like to introduce three more witnesses in that time slot as per the list that you have in front of you. It doesn't extend the hearings; it just makes use of the time that's available.

The Chair: Mr Mills, would you like to read the names of those presenters in?

Mr Mills: Yes, sure.

The Chair: I think the most appropriate motion would be that they be heard. The clerk will try to accommodate them, but that's not necessarily the time they might get.

Mr Mills: I would move that Bill Williams of the Trenton Trailer Park, Joe Joy of RR 1, Niagara Falls, and Mark and Susan Young of Tall Trees Trailer Park, Barrie, Ontario, be added to the witness list in the time slots available on February 15 and 16, 1994. I think you have the reference there.

Mr Tilson: Is this for Bill 120?

Mr Mills: Bill 21.

The Chair: It deals with Mr Wessenger's private member's bill, Bill 21. Is there further discussion on Mr Mills's motion? All in favour? Carried.


Mr Terry Cooke: My name is Terry Cooke. I'm the independent living coordinator for the Ontario March of Dimes. I have responsibility for our housing and support service programs across the province. With me to make the presentation today is a volunteer with our government relations committee, Mr George Eaton.

Dr George Eaton: We are here to lend support to the legislation which is proposed. You have a brief, which is a fairly short document. Perhaps I could save some time merely by highlighting some of the points in it.

First of all, let me say a little about the March of Dimes, which was incorporated in 1951 to fund research to find a cure for polio. After the Salk vaccine, the mission of the Ontario March of Dimes began to evolve, and now it has responsibility to assist adults with physical disabilities to achieve meaningful and dignified lives.

At the present time the Ontario March of Dimes is active in over 100 communities across Ontario, both as partner with persons with disabilities and in the provision of services to these adults. It's with respect to one particular area of service, the independent living assistance activity of the March of Dimes, that we are really here today. There are other activities which are described on page 2. I don't think I need to take your time on that.

At the present time the Ontario March of Dimes provides what are called attendant services. This is the largest program of the organization at the present time. Right now the Ontario March of Dimes annually provides attendant services, which I'll describe a little later on, to over 600 disabled persons throughout 14 integrated apartment projects and 17 outreach projects across Ontario. Mr Cooke is the person responsible for the administration of these housing projects.

There's the housing side of it, and then the Ontario March of Dimes provides services to those who are in those housing schemes. The attendant service, as you see on page 3, is a non-medical, consumer-directed program that provides assistance in areas such as meal preparation, dressing, transferring and toileting. The March of Dimes' emphasis is really on the service to those who are within these housing schemes. We are both engaged then in a contractual relationship with other providers of housing to put the clients within these houses and then to provide them with the services. At the present time, as you will see on page 4, the Ontario March of Dimes is also going to get into the housing business itself. It has established a non-profit housing corporation and will be getting into the matter of providing affordable housing.

It's largely in our area of work, in what we call the independent living assistance, that we are here today to lend support to the legislation. Our concern is that the people for whom we provide attendant services are permanent residents or tenants in these houses, and we believe they should have the full protection of the Landlord and Tenant Act. This is true, we feel, irrespective of whether they are the beneficiaries of attendant services, subsidized services or whatever, such as is the case when the Ontario March of Dimes provides these services to them in the housing.

We feel the proposed amendments are helpful. It will give to disabled persons who are tenants the same rights as others. We feel that as tenants they should have the right to deal directly with their landlords and to enjoy the protections that you propose to give to them. The Ontario March of Dimes does not act as an intermediary in terms of the tenant and the landlord. We focus on the services made available to these disabled persons who are tenants.


We are very pleased to see that what is proposed for them is the protection of tenancy rights, because we feel as disabled persons they are particularly vulnerable in that they could lose an accessible apartment and be forced to live in less appropriate housing. For a disabled person who must have an accessible dwelling, we feel they are left particularly vulnerable. It could be a very serious and threatening problem for them. Therefore, that is why we feel the protection which is now proposed under the new legislation will in fact be a very, very positive step indeed.

Really what we are here to say is that the amendments proposed to the Landlord and Tenant Act, offering protection to disabled adults living in attendant service projects, are worthy of the support of both your committee and the provincial Legislature.

As I said, we are here really with a specific focus. I do not intend to take more time than is necessary for you to understand and very much appreciate that at this time we are here to give wholehearted support to the proposed legislation. We are happy to respond to any questions or clarification that you may need.

Mr Tilson: With respect to people who are providing care services, one of the concerns that has been put forward to this committee is the issue that these places will now be subject to rent control and all the various services you provide -- I don't mean you, I mean the type of institutions that perhaps you're involved with; some of them you are and some you aren't, I suppose -- whether it be food, laundry, grooming, crafts, entertainment, transportation, a whole range of fees that normally one doesn't expect in the landlord and tenant situation as a lot of us think of it.

One of the concerns is that because of the definition of all compensation being included in rent control, it's going to make it very difficult for these institutions or facilities to operate. Could you comment on whether you agree or disagree with that?

Mr Terry Cooke: I think the answer in a nutshell, we have found, over the past dozen or so years that we have operated as attendant service providers and worked in conjunction with non-profit and cooperative landlords, is clearly distinguishing between the services that we are contracted to provide and which are funded as a transfer payment through the provincial long-term care ministry and the landlord and tenant rights and responsibilities; that we're able to distinguish.

I suppose our feeling, if you will, is that what we're doing on a contractual basis shouldn't vary and the rights and obligations of the tenants shouldn't vary based upon whether or not we are on a 24-hour basis, located at and serving a particular building, any more so than if we're doing it through our outreach program which would just come to your home or your town house or your apartment.

What we're trying to say is, recognize that service and housing are distinct issues. We don't believe they should be tied together and we're suggesting that our experience tells us that eligibility for sports services shouldn't compromise basic protections under the Landlord and Tenant Act.

Mr Tilson: That's the problem. The legislation has a definition of rent that talks about "any consideration paid or given." In other words, it's the whole ball of wax, and that's the problem. It may well be that certain rents should remain -- because you're only allowed what, 3.2% every 12 months, and you may have increases of taxes or transportation services, or more capital expenditures are required.

It's a problem that has been expressed as well as the issue that these are health matters and that it might be more appropriate that the traditional landlord and tenant issues, which apply to granny flats, garden flats, accessory apartments, should be distinguished from the facilities that you represent.

Mr Terry Cooke: I would suggest that we don't consider the work that we're involved in as a facility. In fact, even where we have undertaken to serve as a landlord, we not only house and service disabled residents, but we believe in an integrated approach that has other able-bodied renters living in the building.

What we suggest is that those people who are renting as just average renters off the street and those who are disabled tenants who come to us because we provide an accessible accommodation and support services should be clearly treated by the same token or in the same fashion whether or not they happen to have a disability and happen to require some support services. If there needs to be clarification around the definitions, I would suggest that's the responsibility of the men and women on this committee.

Mr Tilson: I quite agree.

Mr Terry Cooke: How you would facilitate that clarification is your issue. I suppose our position in principle, though, is that we want the same protection provided that would prohibit or impede the ability of a landlord who might decide that because of eligibility or because of the status of someone's disability they somehow would have less rights under the act than they otherwise would.

Mr Tilson: I guess the problem is the issue of service. You don't want the services that are being offered to people with disabilities to deteriorate.

Mr Terry Cooke: That's correct.

Mr Tilson: That is the fear that's being expressed because everybody is being lumped in together, when some people require care services and others don't. But because they are being lumped in together, it's feared that for those with disabilities, whether it be because of age or mental incapacity or physical incapacity, those services will deteriorate. That is the fear and, quite frankly, I concur.

One of the other issues that is raised has to do with the issue of -- if there are problems in institutions, this word "fast-tracking" appears to have surfaced, although I don't know whether you've canvassed that with your people or whether anyone can even tell us what it means -- I know what fast-tracking means, but whether you have thought of a fairer process.

Mr Terry Cooke: To be honest, we don't have a response. We've been in consultation with groups like the Advocacy Resource Centre for the Handicapped, which I know was here presenting very recently. I think they have a firmer grasp of the technicalities of fast-tracking than we would.

I simply suggest that our position would be that if you find the need to fast-track for tenancies that become problematic, we believe the distinction between those who can be fast-tracked and those who can't, if you will, shouldn't be based upon disability or the support service they may or may not be contracting for. But I'm not sure I can provide any added clarification on that issue.

Mr Gary Wilson: Thanks very much for your presentation. It certainly is reassuring to hear such strong support for Bill 120, especially from somebody who has had the range of experience that your organization has had.

I want to, I guess, develop something that you seem to be suggesting, as someone who has provided in effect delinked services, that you've come in from the community to residents who have an arrangement with the landlord. You find that has worked well, from what you're saying.

We've heard from some presenters who seem concerned, where they provide care services and accommodation, that the provisions provided under both the Rent Control Act and the Landlord and Tenant Act with regard to rent increases, for instance, and evictions will inhibit their ability to provide services to the person or just to provide them a good place to stay. I'm wondering what your comment on that is.

Mr Terry Cooke: I think, in essence, we're not reading that into the legislation at this point. We have found that there are two basic streams by which we provide service. One is an outreach service that is portable and will go into anyone's home virtually anywhere in the province and provide them essential services. The other type that we're specifically talking about today is a service that is linked to a housing unit or a scattered group of housing units, an apartment building or a town house facility.

In our experience over the past dozen years, there are problematic tenancies and we would not be forthright to suggest to this committee that occasionally you don't find yourself in a position in which the service contract is terminated, the person intends to continue occupying the unit and then to some extent it creates some operational inconvenience.

We're just suggesting that those few instances, if you will, don't justify precluding a whole group of people in this province from basic protections. You don't penalize the larger group by virtue of a few difficulties with some selected individuals; I think you manage around those things. We've found on balance that while there are some inconveniences from time to time, they don't in any way merit a broad exclusion from basic protection.

Mr Gary Wilson: That's right. That does fit in with our hearings as well. People do suggest that, although the cases can be quite extreme and difficult to deal with, there's no question, as you say, they are relatively few and the number of evictions even have been rare, or small, I should say, and that most places have developed processes to deal with tenants who have problems.

Again, it's not to say that it's an easy issue to deal with but, as you suggest, for the relatively small number of cases that jeopardize the rights to security of tenure and privacy for the vast majority of tenants who are, let's say, very cooperative and are easy to live with, that's a very high price to be paying.


I'd like to also look at the issue of delinking because, as you know, that is one of the thrusts of the legislation which is in keeping with the movement in this area in a number of directions, I guess given the strongest push by the redirection of long-term care, so that we do have much more flexibility with providing people with the services they need from community-based groups.

There seems to be some confusion here as to whether that is part of the controlled cost of rent, for instance, and in the unlicensed or unregulated care homes that we're moving to protect, that they won't be part of the coverage under rent control. Do you see that as a feasible way? Because we have had some concern that, say, food costs should be included under rent control. I was wondering whether you've thought about that issue.

Mr Terry Cooke: Let me speak to both issues that you've raised. The first is to put into some context the number of how many difficult terminations of service might lead to problems associated with landlord and tenant rights. I can tell you that over the past 12 or 13 years we have operated, as we stated earlier, services that extend across the province.

In the case of 24-hour attendant service programs that are in at least 14 different communities in the province, relatively speaking, when you're serving over 600 individuals, I can tell you that the number of terminations and problem tenancies has been less than a handful. So again, to juxtapose that with the issue of the protection of the broader group of individuals we serve, we don't think it would justify precluding the basic protection.

The second issue, the delinking issue, we've worked very closely with the long-term care ministry and have been involved in the consultations. We support the concept. Even where we are contemplating being landlords as well as service providers, we are suggesting to our board and to our consumers that we clearly separate the rights and responsibilities involved in a service contract for some essential services from those things associated with their housing and basic tenancy protections.

That will be the case. It will be dealt with through two distinct corporations and two distinct service and housing providers, if you will. We want there to be a clear delineation there. We're not an all-service housing and support service provider; it is not a facility, it is a community-based accessible-housing project into which we happen to provide some essential support services in some of the selected units, not all.

Mr Daigeler: In your presentation you said, "Without the full protection of tenancy rights, persons with disabilities are placed in a vulnerable position in which they could lose their accessible apartment unit and be forced to live in less appropriate housing." But if I understand right, at the same time you said that you haven't experienced much of a problem.

Mr Terry Cooke: That's correct.

Mr Daigeler: Why do you think, then, that Bill 120 is needed if there hasn't been a problem so far?

Mr Terry Cooke: Can I suggest that in our case we've always recognized the rights of our tenants to full protection under the act and we have distinguished, where we've entered into partnerships with housing providers, that we have the exclusive right of referral for certain units within that building or that complex. The people then sign a full landlord and tenant agreement and we contract separately with them for services. Where we have found it --

Mr Daigeler: Could you explain that again? I didn't follow it.

Mr Terry Cooke: We play a couple of distinct roles in the 24-hour apartment projects. The standard course is that we would enter into a relationship with a housing provider, a local non-profit, for the exclusive right to refer 14 or 16 or 18 tenants into certain units. They would have special modification features in them and we would deliver into those units 24-hour support services.

Mr Daigeler: But that's not a lease or something; that's sort of different.

Mr Terry Cooke: It is a service contract with the March of Dimes and it is a landlord and tenant -- or a lease agreement with a non-profit or a cooperative landlord.

Mr Daigeler: So you do make a lease arrangement with the landlord.

Mr Terry Cooke: We have a working relationship that ensures us the exclusive right of referral for certain clients within the building, but they enjoy the full protection presently under the act because they sign a lease and we don't serve as intermediaries between them and their landlords. We're going in to provide 24-hour support service.

If, at the end of the day, our contract for support service breaks down, they have the right to remain in the unit and contract with another service provider or go elsewhere, as is their prerogative. But we don't see their eligibility for our support service as a basis to, in any way, limit their rights to protection under the Landlord and Tenant Act.

Dr Eaton: Perhaps I can clarify it a wee bit. What the March of Dimes does is negotiate for certain places and then it provides bodies for those places, but the bodies sign contracts with the landlords directly.

Mr Daigeler: As you say, it protects these individuals. They can stay there, even if they no longer provide, like, your care, as it were.

Dr Eaton: That's right.

Mr Terry Cooke: Your question is, if it's not creating a problem, then why do we care?

Mr Daigeler: Right.

Mr Terry Cooke: I think the answer would be that we have found, in instances with other community-based support service providers, where they do link the right of tenancy to the eligibility for care, there have been cases where people have been treated rather arbitrarily and have not had the full protection, because at present they are not protected. In other words, you're no longer eligible for support services, your needs have increased to the point where we can't provide for you, therefore, we're going to both withdraw services and move for eviction. We simply think that's unfair.

Mr Daigeler: However, don't you think it would be reasonable to expect that the landlord would be quite a bit more hesitant to offer their facilities if they no longer have that assurance that there will in fact be the attendant care service provided by people such as yourself?

Mr Terry Cooke: Again, I don't like to answer in two ways for the committee on every question, but we have found that we've been very forthright with landlords and we have gone in and said: "Look, here is the parameter of our coverage, here are your obligations. Your obligations to the people we service will be the same as to anybody else. The procedures for things like eviction will be the same as for anybody else."

There may occasionally be disagreements or eligibility problems in which people are going to be in that unit but have found themselves with a terminated service contract, in which case they'll have to go out and solicit an alternative service provider if they want to continue to live independently. But the landlord hasn't contracted to provide the services. He or she is just providing the basic --

Mr Daigeler: My next --

Mr Terry Cooke: Wait a minute; let me answer the second point. You suggested, wouldn't we take a different approach? I can tell you that we aren't --

Mr Daigeler: No, no, no, I don't think you understood my question. My question was, wouldn't there be fewer landlords willing to make facilities available if they no longer have the assurance that these tenants will be looked after by somebody such as yourself? If all of a sudden you no longer provide the attendant care, then they could be "stuck" with the tenant and with the health service aspects of that particular tenant.

Mr Terry Cooke: I think your ability to negotiate with landlords is based upon a credible and proven track record. If you do effective screening to ensure that the people who are moving into those units are appropriate and can manage in a self-directed program, history has demonstrated that it is very few and far between that in fact those relationships break down. We haven't had any difficulty in finding landlords who will work with us and negotiate the types of agreements we're talking about.


Furthermore, we've now incorporated our own non-profit housing corporation because in some communities we haven't had the vehicle to develop the specialized types of units we need, and our non-profit housing corporation will be operating on the same basis, hoping to provide a clear distinguishing between landlord and tenant rights and responsibilities and service contract rights and responsibilities. We don't think so, but I can't guarantee that.

The Chair: Thank you, Mr Daigeler. I just have one quick question of clarification. The tenancies you're talking about: Are they self-contained units?

Mr Terry Cooke: Yes.

The Chair: They're all self-contained units. They're not what you might call a group home situation.

Mr Terry Cooke: No, they are not, sir.

The Chair: Thank you very much for coming.


Mr Bart Poesiat: On behalf of the Rooming House Action Group, which is a grass-roots organization of people who live in rooming- and boarding-houses and people who have survived some pretty bad conditions in rooming- and boarding-houses, I'd like to introduce my co-presenters, who will speak first. In the middle is Doreen Boye. Actually, her husband was supposed to speak, but Jerry is kind of sick so Doreen will do the honours to start with. Then Paul Rodgers, on my far right, will take over, and I will say a few words as well. So at this point, Doreen.

Ms Doreen Boye: The rooming-house population: In our society's tenant population there exists a large group of people who for far too long have been forced to live in subhuman conditions. These people have had to bear beatings from ruthless landlords and superintendents and have sometimes been literally thrown into the streets in subzero weather and, if they're lucky, a bag of their meagre belongings tossed out after them. These tenants are fed food most of us wouldn't give our pets and sleep on mattresses and between sheets only fit for incineration. They barely exist and pay for this kind of existence in rent as high as $500 a month or more. Roomers and boarders range in all different ages, races and abilities, yet as tenants they have one thing in common: They are poor. Although rooming-house tenants finally won protection under the Landlord and Tenant Act, there still remain thousands of other tenants without such rights. Nor has this or any other law been effective in eliminating the squalor and disgusting living conditions many tenants still live and die in in today's society.

It is for these reasons that the Rooming House Action Group, RHAG, was formed in April 1993. A group of rooming-house tenants and two community workers gathered to begin to tackle problems that have been allowed to exist for far too long.

The main purpose of RHAG is to shut down or rehabilitate the worst rooming-houses in Toronto. The action plan consists of four main tasks, the first being the formation of a rating system for rooming-houses. Houses will be systematically exposed for their substandard, crummy conditions and rated accordingly. Secondly, houses that by our standards rate poorly will be pressured by our group and our supporters to be closed down or forced to rehabilitate. For amendments to the Planning Act, see further. Thirdly, we will ensure that tenants be relocated from unsafe and unsuitable rooming-houses to safe and suitable housing. Lastly, and most important, the action plan is to be tenant-driven.

These plans have risen out of a need to effectively address and resolve ongoing tragedies that are hidden behind the dark doors of inhumane property owners and have been all but forgotten by the municipal powers. We are tired of hearing the landlords blame the tenants. We are tired of hearing agencies and city officials tell us there is nowhere to put tenants, so they must stay in these houses and live in these terrible conditions. We think that there are solutions, that there are better ways for people to live, and we are motivated to act towards these ends.

Mr Paul Rodgers: Bill 120: What we support. The Rooming House Action Group supports the extension of security of tenure under part IV of the Landlord and Tenant Act to include care facilities. This includes any non-profit housing which provides facilitative management to actual services where the primary function of the establishment is to provide accommodation.

The Rooming House Action Group supports a very narrow definition of rehabilitation or therapeutic establishments as described in Bill 120, and we also support including care homes under the Rent Control Act.

A few words about the fast-track eviction, or temporary removals: The Rooming House Action Group emphatically opposes any amendment or change to the Landlord and Tenant Act or any other act which would allude to a fast-track eviction and/or fast-track removal, also termed temporary removal, for tenants living in shared accommodations. We are glad this has not been included and emphasize our total opposition to this idea.

The inclusion of fast-track removal and/or eviction would create a giant loophole within the act, serving only as a tool of discrimination against the most economically disadvantaged tenants. We reject the idea of stripping tenants of their legal rights under the Landlord and Tenant Act. We reject the undignified term "hardest-to-house" which many landlords and governments use to term whole sections of this province's population. The criteria for fast-track evictions would be subjective and difficult to arrive at, leaving one's tenants' rights at the whim and imaginative powers of the landlords.

Given the possibility that any form of fast-track eviction could be put in place within the LTA would affect the whole tenant population of the province and remove the level playing field the act originally intended to provide for both landlord and tenant. Landlords can utilize other remedies and pressure governments to provide more effective ones. The Mental Health Act, the Criminal Code and police reform come to mind.

Mr Poesiat: Having pointed out what we support, I guess it's my unfortunate task to list the things we oppose.

First of all, the Rooming House Action Group opposes the separation of meals and services from the rent in care homes. As other submissions have pointed out, so there's no point endlessly repeating ourselves, this is a disaster, because that creates a giant loophole. By separating out meals, landlords can raise the costs of meals and thus can raise the rents even though the rents stay stable. This could create economic or "constructive" evictions. Also, it doesn't really level the playing field. It could create a considerable leverage for landlords by raising meals against certain tenants.


The main problem RHAG has with this bill, though, is the question of residential intensification. Having gone as far as legalizing or proposing to legalize apartments in basements, one apartment in a house, there is a whole area out there and there is a whole class of tenants out there who are basically being left out in the cold. We're talking about people, for instance, who live in accommodation in lofts, in good accommodation which is not zoned properly in industrial areas and of course rooming- and boarding-houses that are in areas which are not zoned for rooming- and boarding-houses.

Also, we don't quite understand. If you legalize one apartment in a house, if you have a big house which a landlord might want to convert to a number of apartments, that should be allowed as well.

What we're saying is that by not extending the protection to tenants living in illegally zoned rooming- and boarding-houses, lofts and apartments in commercial areas, the government is discriminating against a whole group of tenants, and what is even worse is that by increasing the powers of municipal inspectors, which this bill does and which in principle is good, by keeping a whole segment outside of the law and illegal, the government is adding insult to injury by putting tenants in illegal units at even greater risk.

The Rooming House Action Group therefore calls upon this government to expand this legislation. They make the following recommendations:

First, permit any number of self-contained units in a house where permitted by existing structure and health and safety standards and minimum floor-space requirements under the Ontario Building Code.

We wouldn't want to see substandard housing, but we do want to see quality housing wherever permitted by residential use, because many times the zoning legislation is not on zoning, it's not on land use, it's against a certain class of people.

The other recommendation the Rooming House Action Group makes is to prohibit the exclusion, of course, of rooming- and boarding- and lodging-houses in all residential and mixed-use areas.

We would like to remind you that as far back as 1989, the Ministry of Housing's policy statement on Land Use Planning for Housing did include a recommendation that municipalities should include "zoning provisions to permit rooming-, boarding- and lodging-houses and accessory apartments as of right where there are permitted uses in the official plan."

This bill fails to legislate a large part of this policy, because it doesn't even touch upon the exclusionary zoning and municipal bylaws discriminating against people living in rooming- and boarding-houses. But Bill 120 strengthens the powers of inspection of the municipalities, and this makes the situation worse for tenants living in illegal rooming-houses where tenants have little protection under the Landlord and Tenant Act because of case law that has been established in the landlord and tenant court or in the Ontario court.

The effect of this "residents' rights" law will thus be to drive tenants further underground and create, in a sense, an illegal market of shady rooming-houses where tenants are afraid to complain and where tenants live in desperate conditions, because that sector will not be a legal sector.

Rooming-, boarding- and lodging-houses must be included to allow as-of-right conversion and construction where residential use is permitted and also where residential use is related to other uses by bylaw.

Coupled with the above recommendations, of course, it is obvious that the municipalities must be given effective powers to maintain buildings in compliance with property standards, powers which municipalities mostly lack today or they do have in some very urgent hazard types of situations.

If you don't open up a whole housing sector, which is not yet being opened up by this bill, then you need stronger powers of regulation. The effect of that would be that rather than shutting down living accommodations and dehousing tenants, those powers would enable the municipality to rehabilitate substandard rental housing and preserve affordable housing stock. Therefore, we make the following recommendations and we hope you seriously look at these.

The municipalities must have a mandatory obligation of municipal repair, and this can be done by changing the Planning Act. Bill 120 goes into the Planning Act anyway and it goes into the Municipal Act, so why not go all the way and take care and provide the most basic services to an excluded segment of the most destitute tenants of the population?

Municipalities must be forced to do repairs where urgent hazards are found and remove tenants from harm's way until the hazards are completely rectified and the municipalities recover costs through taxes or rents. That again would involve amending the Planning Act. It also may involve doing something about the Execution Act, the act that governs collection agencies, in order to collect the rent to pay for the costs for the municipalities.

The priority of housing over zoning infractions must be affirmed, because that has been overturned by case law in court and there is a whole series of cases. If a tenant now lives in an illegally zoned apartment or in a rooming-house, the tenant doesn't have any rights. So if a building is in good shape, it cannot be closed down.

The Landlord and Tenant Act should have precedence over the Planning Act if the bylaws are violated.

Finally, the municipalities should be made parties and become co-respondents in section 94 applications under the Landlord and Tenant Act. That's the section that says it is the obligation of a landlord to keep the premises in a good state of repair and fit for habitation. In this situation, where the municipality has greater powers, the municipality should also be obligated and does become a co-respondent where a tenant takes a landlord to court.

In conclusion, the members of the Rooming House Action Group believe that Bill 120 does not even begin to address the pressing needs of our most vulnerable tenant population. We hope that you seriously consider some of our suggestions to remedy that situation. Thank you.

Mr Fletcher: Thank you for your presentation. I'm just going to touch on one issue, and that's fast-track eviction. We've heard from a lot of groups and I'd say it's pretty well split whether or not to have fast-track eviction. What about the troublemaker, the person who is causing a disturbance for the other tenants in the accommodation facility? Get rid of them fast?

Mr Poesiat: The landlord and tenant legislation wasn't really designed to deal with that. I assume that you're referring to a situation where perhaps criminal acts are committed. The Criminal Code takes care of that.

Mr Fletcher: Not even criminal. I mean, you know, obstruction, anything like that. Just someone who's generally bugging you and making it so that people don't feel as if they're in a healthy situation.


Mr Poesiat: We feel the present remedies under the Landlord and Tenant Act are more than adequate in that respect. When a tenant interferes with the enjoyment of the premises of other tenants or the landlord, there is a process in place which does not take months. There is a brief warning period and if the tenant doesn't shape up, the tenant can be effectively evicted. That process is already there. By strengthening that, you basically skew the level playing field that has been created between the rights of the tenant and the rights of the landlord. The landlord would have much greater powers.

I feel horrified to think -- and I've seen situations. I should point out that I'm a community legal worker in a landlord and tenant group with Parkdale Legal Services. I'm working with the Rooming House Action Group as a resource, but I worked in landlord and tenant matters for many, many years as an organizer, and I can assure you that if some tenant begins to complain and if a tenant begins to organize a tenants' association, he's immediately labelled as a troublemaker.

Now the tenant has her or his day in court. Under the fast-track eviction, it would be a very fast process. The problem is, what happens with the criteria? They can be constructively recreated to fit situations where tenants are going to be victimized for reasons that aren't valid reasons at all. That's what we're afraid of.

Mr Daigeler: Thank you for your presentation. Just to be clear, for the group that you represent, you don't have clients where there's a care component, or do you? You are strictly a rooming-house advocacy group.

Mr Poesiat: No. First of all, the group is a grass-roots organization. It's not incorporated. Except for myself and Deb Phelps, as community workers who are resources -- we're not members; we're just basically organizers -- the members of the group are from various situations. Perhaps it's better for Doreen to answer.

Mr Daigeler: Just to make clear why I'm asking this question, I think one has to distinguish, and it's perhaps difficult if the people come from different environments, because different problems relate to different environments. We have had numerous people coming from what you may call rehab homes, institutions, whatever, and they have argued very strongly that in order to provide the rehab, there has to be a means to remove the people who are endangering the rehabilitation of the other people.

From what I understand from what you are talking about, however, they're simply tenants who on their own may have personally people who are caring for them, with a care perspective, but they are basically tenants. Frankly, in that regard I don't think anybody has argued that they shouldn't be included under the Landlord and Tenant Act. The problem is with the cases where there's that care element and where disruption makes it impossible to provide the care for the other people. That has been the problem. I was just wondering whether you wish to comment.

Mr Poesiat: In the brief, the Rooming House Action Group points out that basically we do support the position of the bill on that. That excludes the very strict care facilities that are more like hospital-type, institutional-type situations. That is already included in the bill. But there's a whole shady area out there, and again we should emphasize that we basically support the position of the bill there.

There's a whole area out there where the primary purpose of the establishment is living, with various types of facilitative management where a nurse may come in, whatever, but it really is a place to live. There, the Rooming House Action Group says a tenant is a tenant is a tenant. You cannot, just because people are psychiatric survivors -- and heaven knows how many psychiatric survivors live in total dumps in absolutely terrible situations. But no matter that people need some facilitative management, that people need support services, the type of thing that the Rupert Hotel Coalition's trying to work at; that doesn't mean that tenant shouldn't have a right, even though it makes it difficult.

I know of situations where there is lots of support. It's very difficult to give support, and people who come from the street and who are living there for a while and have all kinds of problems -- personal problems, addiction problems maybe -- end up back on the street. The Rooming House Action Group's position is that those organizations that want to go into that business have to deal with that, and not by taking away rights from a certain class of citizen that has already been stigmatized enough.

If you can't take the heat, get out of the kitchen. If an organization says, "We're going to provide housing for street people, for the homeless," and there are problems, we're saying just because they're off the street, that doesn't mean you can say, "Oh, we'll have some special kind of fast-track eviction because these are very difficult people." That is discrimination, and I don't think ultimately it would fly under the Ontario Human Rights Code, and it wouldn't fly under the Charter of Rights and Freedoms if that situation existed and anybody ever took that route.

But we're glad that it isn't in there. The reason RHAG decided to mention it is because there are quite a few organizations which make the point that fast-track evictions or some kind of temporary removal is really necessary. Of course, it was actually a little bit recommended in the Lightman report, although I understand that Dr Lightman is not advocating it any more.

Mr David Johnson: I'd like to thank you for your deputation. It's certainly my sense that the people you're speaking for are the people who have been the most abused of the people this bill encompasses, and although some other situations have been described to you in the questioning, they're probably the people who need the protection more than anybody else.

Let me ask you up front: In the rooming- and boarding-houses is your experience that the units are mostly self-contained or not self-contained?

Mr Poesiat: Most rooming- and boarding-houses have rooms but many don't have single occupancy. You can get into situations, and I think Doreen and Paul can say a few words about that, where you have four people, four beds, stacked in a room.

Mr David Johnson: Would you have a kitchen?

Mr Poesiat: The whole house shares one or two kitchens and maybe one or two bathrooms. There are situations in larger rooming-houses where a whole floor has one bathroom and one kitchen.

Mr David Johnson: We're unfortunately going to run out of time, but in East York, and I think in most municipalities, in a home you are already allowed, I think, five roomers or boarders.

Mr Poesiat: Shared accommodation, yes.

Mr David Johnson: Yes, shared accommodations. That's right, and the kind of accommodations you've just described to me are in a sense shared. So to a large degree what you're calling for here is already in existence, I would say.

Mr Poesiat: That's a whole interesting area. It's kind of stretching it, but you could take a large rooming-house, like the Rupert Hotel, which I think had about 74 rooms, and you could divide it up into little parcels where four or five people live in a shared accommodation type of situation. Then you could say, "These are all self-contained units with individual shared accommodation, like flat-type situations, so this is not really a rooming-house." Then you would kind of get around the confusing -- I'm talking city of Toronto. Then you would get around that. But it would still be a very shady area to do that.

Obviously, smaller situations where you have three people or four people sharing a house is what's meant by shared accommodation. We know of rooming-houses that have 54 units. It's very hard to stretch that point of shared accommodation in those places.

The Chair: Thank you very much for appearing before us today. We appreciate your presentation.



Mr Chris Krucker: I'm Chris Krucker. I work as staff with the Affordable Housing Action Association.

Ms Tess Moxham: My name is Tess Moxham. I'm a member of the Affordable Housing Action Association.

Ms Susan McGrath: I'm Susan McGrath. I'm president of the board of directors of AHAA.

Ms Moxham: Affordable Housing Action Association is a non-profit community-based organization that offers advocacy and housing development services to people in the region of Peel. AHAA was founded in 1988 and incorporated in 1991 as a non-share corporation and governed by the board of directors.

AHAA's mandate is therefore: (1) to give housing information to people who are looking for affordable housing and to advocate on behalf of individuals and families having difficulties within the housing system; (2) to organize the community of people looking for affordable rental and ownership housing, to both create more affordable housing and to work to improve the present delivery of housing; (3) to develop and to build affordable housing living communities, both the physical buildings as well as the community of people who live within these homes.

AHAA attempts to fulfil these mandates through two areas of service: community development and housing development. AHAA has a membership of 350 families, members primarily living in Peel. They are people who are concerned with the lack of affordable housing and are active in working to meet these needs. They represent a large community of Peel residents who are now in housing that is too expensive and inadequate.

Many of the Affordable Housing Action Association members have lived or currently do live in basement apartments. Over a period of a month, half of the members have been meeting on the issue of legalizing basement apartments. Each member has told their story of living in basement apartments and has made recommendations to the panel members. These stories have been documented and incorporated and written into the submission to the standing committee.

As I mentioned, my name is Tess Moxham and I was asked to speak here on my experiences of living in a basement apartment. I've had the so-called pleasure of living in two separate apartments and I'd like to explain both of these very briefly to you.

The first one was located in Brampton and it was the kind of basement apartment where you had to walk down a full flight of basement stairs. It was very poorly lit and ventilation was very poor. There were only two very small windows, located at the back of the house, which was my living room. Only one of these windows opened and it was so small that even my cat had a hard time getting in and out of it.

My son, who is an asthmatic, suffered from several attacks and was taken to a hospital five times in a period of six months. The last one was the worst, which ended with his being admitted into the hospital for three days. I knew at that time I had to get out and I began looking for a new place. However, being a single mother, my income was that of a low-tax bracket.

After searching for several weeks, I ended up finding my second basement apartment. It was a ground-level entrance, bright, clean, good ventilation and had lots of windows. My experience in this home was a very good one. My son and I became a part of the landlord's family and a part of our community. We were really happy living there. However, this ended in misfortune on December 17, when the house was overcome by flames and our home was destroyed.

My son and I have lost everything. However, we still have our lives. I was told by a fire marshal that had my son and I not been upstairs visiting the landlord's family, this story would have ended a very tragic one. Once again, I am faced with trying to find a home for my son and me. Because our needs are immediate, I have taken some time off work, and in doing so I have now also lost my job.

Affordable housing is very difficult to find, which is why I'm in favour of basement apartments. However, I do believe they should meet certain safety and building codes. Sometimes basement apartments are our only alternatives.

I thank you for taking the time to listen to my stories and I understand that you are faced with a very difficult decision. I praise you for listening to the public's opinion. I would only hope that you have listened to our opinions and that you're making your decisions accordingly. Once again, I thank you for taking the time.

Mr Frank Henry Etruw: My name is Frank Henry Etruw. I'm a member of the AHAA group. My experience is in a basement apartment. I lived in basement apartments for three years in North York or Toronto.

In this particular basement apartment, there was no adequate ventilation. I can put it simply: It was like a dungeon down there, because in my room, the particular room I rented, there were no windows in the room. The washroom was so enclosed you couldn't even turn when you were taking a shower. I had to fight day in and day out.

There were lots of combustible materials, such as paints, rags, old newspapers, and above all violation of my privacy. The landlord pops in any time he wants. I sometimes get scared, most often because of the danger of immediate fire. The escape route was nowhere to be found in case of fire. It made me sleep on my couch. For about a month or two months I had to sleep on my couch in case of fire; then I could escape very easily.

Once again, I rented out another basement apartment, this time in Mississauga. This basement apartment was infested with cockroaches. Several times I complained to the landlord, but they seemed to care less or didn't care at all. It looked like they just wanted their money but they didn't care about the welfare of the tenants.

I'm not recommending that basement apartments should be illegalized. I want them to be legalized, but at the same time I want them to be updated for every individual person to get access to live comfortably. Our poverty doesn't mean that we have to live in a slum or uncomfortable situations like those of the apartments I had lived in before.

I'm here to thank AHAA for their strength. They have of course strengthened me and comforted me in all angles. I hope that you will reach a good decision about the basement apartments so that everybody can enjoy, as regular apartment residents, this.

The Vice-Chair (Mr Ron Eddy): Thank you very much for your personal witness.

Ms McGrath: I'd just like to confirm that we estimate there are 10,000 basement apartments in Mississauga. They're an important source of affordable housing for people on low incomes. We strongly urge that this legislation, in terms of them being legalized, that conditions of safety are essential and that this source of affordable housing be not only legalized but standards set and maintained and available to more people in the community who need it.

Mr Steven Offer (Mississauga North): Thank you for your presentation. I'm somewhat aware of the work done by the association. I think you're just on the verge of opening up a very exciting type of new housing development in the city of Mississauga.

My question, I guess, to Tess, is, you've had experience in living in basement apartments, one of which was bad, the other good. Can you share with the committee whether in your opinion, or any of the others, there was a difference in terms of whether the owner occupied the home or not? Have you detected any difference?

Ms Moxham: In both the basement apartments I lived in, the owner lived upstairs.

Mr Offer: Has that been the experience of yourself?

Mr Etruw: Yes, the owner lives upstairs.

Mr Offer: One of the first presentations made to this committee was by Fire Chief Cyril Hare of Mississauga. He came with some specific recommendations as to the types of protections that are necessary and that are not either in this bill or part of the laws of this province. Could you share with us whether you support the recommendations for enhanced protection, as suggested by the fire chief?

Ms McGrath: I'm not totally aware of his position. The concerns that we have are issues around access that I think he was raising and rights of entry. I think the legislation as such provides for safety standards and that those should be and can be adequate in terms of providing a safe living environment around second exits, window size, these kinds of things that seem to meet the safety needs of families living in basement apartments.

The point here is that the empowerment goes to the tenant. Tenants under this legislation will have the right to assess in terms of what they think is safe or not and then can act on what their assessment is. Certainly we will be working with our membership in promoting, assuming this legislation gets passed, the standards so that people are aware of what they can expect in terms of safety standards.


Mr Offer: Municipalities have come before the committee and have indicated that the legislation, as it's now styled, really does put an impediment to them in terms of their zoning and their planning of the community and all the things that go with that. I'm wondering if you can share with the committee what your reaction is to the positions taken by the municipalities in terms of their responsibility for zoning.

Ms McGrath: We've had a full dialogue. Some of our staff met with Mayor McCallion and council yesterday morning and she showed up at our members' meeting last night. There has been a full sharing of the different perspectives around that. We still adhere to our position.

I think we have to look beyond the concerns that are being raised. The reality is that there are 10,000 units already. The second-unit housing exists; it's already there. In terms of suggesting that there are going to be horrendous changes, I think there's some phantom thinking going on here in terms of what people are expecting.

The municipality still retains full rights around zoning. They can control the noise bylaws. They can manage and apply the property standards and assessments. They still have that capacity. I think in terms of concerns, the implication seems to be somehow that people living downstairs in a house are going to be at some greater risk than people living upstairs. In most single-family homes, people often live downstairs now.

This right of an entry and intrusiveness I think is uncalled for. Informed tenants protected by the appropriate legislation can act on their own behalf and will be able to seek recourse if there are problems in their living accommodations.

Mr Offer: From your experience, is there any concern with there being no condition to the residence itself having to be owner-occupied?

Ms McGrath: I'm not aware of the research showing that there is any shift in terms of a higher incidence of rental housing. I could rent out my house today, if I chose to. If I did, I wouldn't live there, given the current zoning that exists. So if people can rent whole homes, they can rent part of homes. People can choose to be there or not.

To suggest that somehow this is going to become a greater problem than it is now, there's no research to justify this. I think they're taking anecdotal experiences and suggesting it's going to be greater than it is. The reality is that the 10,000 units are there now. We need to make them legal and deal with the issue as it is now.

Mr Offer: There are just a few moments left. I think that there are some provincial numbers that say it's not 10,000. As I also live in Mississauga, we all know that the incidence of people living in basement apartments in the city of Mississauga is much higher than any provincial government ministry report. The fact of the matter is that the realities are that the numbers that the ministry has are just wrong in this respect.

The question I have is in general protections, and I'm sure you've heard these questions before, protection as to the planning in the neighbourhoods, protection as to all of the things that have gone on with respect to this: What is your position with respect to this bill and that concern?

This is what these committee hearings are all about. That's what we've been hearing. I know some of the work that AHAA has done in the city and I'd like to get your reaction to those concerns that we've heard with respect to the parking, with the six cars in the backyard. What do you say to those people?

Ms McGrath: They exist. They're there now, and Mississauga hasn't fallen apart. We aren't having major problems other than the density issues that we already have experienced. In terms of parking, the research out of Metro does show that in fact people who are living in basement apartments tend not to have cars. I look around my neighbourhood. I've got a neighbour who has six cars parked on the lot. This is a single-family home. There are no limits.

They suggest that this is going to become a horrendous problem. Again, parking in Mississauga does not seem to be a horrendous problem at the moment. The units are already there. People are already living in them. So where is the parking problem? In Mississauga you're not even allowed to park on the streets at night; you have to have onsite parking and this legislation will provide for that. People will be parking their cars in the driveways.

Mr Tilson: Dealing with an issue that Mr Offer raised with respect to numbers of illegal apartments in Mississauga, you've mentioned 10,000 and Mr Offer thinks that may be substantially higher. Looking at what this legislation is going to do, the legislation will legalize the existence of not all of them but many of them.

However, then we start looking at standards, which gets to the issues that you're speaking of when you're speaking of the quality of living. Clearly there will be a large number that will be violating fire codes, property standards bylaws -- I'm not aware of Mississauga's property standards bylaws but I would imagine it has property standards bylaws.

Whatever figure we're using, 10,000 or more, how many of those, what percentage of those would you estimate, if you're able to estimate, would still be illegal because of violations of the fire code or because of violations of property standards or health requirements?

Ms McGrath: I'm not sure what you're suggesting, that they will continue to be illegal, that people are not going to try and upgrade their properties and you're trying to respond to these needs?

Mr Tilson: The issue that I'm raising is that this legislation, if it passes, will legalize all of these units or a large percentage of these units. What it won't do of course is it won't say you're still going to have to upgrade them. You may have to upgrade a certain number of them for different reasons. I've given fire, I've given property standards, I've given health and there may be others that I can't think of in which inspections will have to be made, fire requirements, changes. Some may not require any changes. Many of them were done makeshift by the property owners who weren't aware of electrical requirements or plumbing requirements or those sorts of things.

Are you able to give any estimate as to what percentage of those units will be illegal in violating those different standards?

Ms McGrath: I don't know. It's hard to tell. Tess and Frank have identified one experience each that has been a very bad experience. The expectation would be that the owner of those basement apartments would make some significant changes to improve them. That's what needs to happen. Whether people would choose to do that or not we can't tell.

Mr Tilson: But we're trying to solve a problem. We're trying to solve a living conditions problem. The difficulty is going to be that first of all inspections are going to have to be made. Either that or life just goes on; the life, as you've described, goes on. No one does anything about it, so someone's going to have to do something.

Unless the landlords do it voluntarily, and I don't imagine they would because, good heavens, there are all these illegal apartments, the tenant is going to have to take action, or someone's going to have to take action, because most municipalities simply don't have the staff to go and inspect every home or every dwelling in their municipality.


I'm really looking for a comment as to how this next stage is going to be realistically solved, because the next stage is going to be municipalities coming and saying, "We don't have the resources to inspect or to adjudicate, to take people to court to close places down," and, worse yet, it could result in that people who now have accommodation won't have any accommodation. I'm looking for your comment on the next step, assuming this legislation passes.

Ms McGrath: I think there are several points you're raising. My understanding of what the municipalities are proposing now is that it would already require a tremendous and intensive assessment. They want to examine, go in and license, so they are already anticipating a huge staffing cost that they haven't got in terms of what they seem to be proposing. They seem to think they're going to have some staffing resources.

Mr Tilson: For sure.

Ms McGrath: The onus here will be on the tenant. What our members have been talking about is that they're prepared to work with the landlord. Those who have good relationships with their landlords can work cooperatively, "How do you we make this work better?" It's in both their best interests to make it safe with not a huge cost increase, how they can best do this.

Bringing someone in to actually do an assessment, if you're going to bring the property standards officers in, that could be done by anybody at any time and they could then initiate that. I think the first step, though, they want to work with the landlords in terms of, "These are the standards." They will now have some standards, they will have a legal background if they aren't resolved and they would like to be able to work with that landlord in getting it resolved and cleaned up.

Mr Tilson: Some of the conditions that --

The Vice-Chair: Mr Tilson, I think Mr Johnson wanted to ask a question. Quickly, please.

Mr David Johnson: Just to follow up a little bit on that, the concern that municipalities have, again, is that they will not be able to get in to inspect. This morning we heard from the Association of Municipalities of Ontario, which represents some 700 municipalities on this particular issue, it says, of some 800-odd municipalities across Ontario.

Their brief is that they should be allowed to plan for accessory apartments in terms of what fits into their community. They will not have the right of entry, and consequently as a municipality they will not be able to guarantee the safety of the people living in that basement apartment or in that flat because they simply won't have the right of entry to get in to ensure that the apartment is safe.

You've talked about the empowerment of tenants.

The Vice-Chair: Could you make it quick, please.

Mr David Johnson: To wrap it up then, their experience has been that tenants don't come forward and they're speculating that even once this bill is passed, tenants won't come forward and this will still leave tenants at risk and it'll put municipalities in a very legally delicate position. I wonder what your comments would be on that.

Ms McGrath: The municipalities resent provincial intrusion into what they see as their area of business. That's a fundamental political issue that's never going to get satisfactorily resolved. They had their opportunity to provide affordable housing. They didn't take advantage of that opportunity. Clearly there needs to be provincial intervention in order to provide this. This is a strategy that can and will work. It's legalizing a situation that is already there.

I think the municipalities still have significant responsibility around management, around land use planning. They still have bylaws that are in place now that they can apply. If I'm disruptive in my neighbourhood, my neighbours can call. They have legislation which they can use. The assumption is that there's going to be a whole lot more disruption, which I don't think is at all founded, it has not been substantiated, and which I think is a phantom kind of proposal that municipalities are raising. Because it's a political football they don't like it.

Mr David Johnson: I bet you didn't convince Hazel.

Mr Mammoliti: It's a very good point that you raise when you say that the municipality had the option, when we talked about affordable housing, especially in Mississauga. I remember quite clearly the debate that took place two and a half years ago, I believe, between the minister and your mayor over this issue. I want to thank you for bringing that up and putting it on record.

Earlier I think both of you talked about a bad experience that you had in basement apartments. I can't remember what you said in terms of the landlord living onsite, or was it an absentee landlord? If you can answer that question first.

Mr Etruw: He was living onsite.

Ms Moxham: Both of which I lived in lived onsite.

Mr Mammoliti: Lived onsite, and they were still bad experiences, were they? The reason I ask this question is because mayors like the mayor of Mississauga and my own mayor of North York have come forward and have very clearly said that it's better if the landlords live onsite and that we should do something about the absentee landlords. In this particular case, actually two cases, I think they speak for themselves. I think the message is quite clear that even when the landlords live onsite there could be potential problems.

However, that doesn't mean we don't need to address the safety concerns that you're talking about. I'm not sure if you want to elaborate at all on what specific things you'd like to see addressed in terms of safety for basement apartments, but that's my second question. I'm sorry I had to take so long.

Ms Moxham: I personally would like to see some type of exit, whether it be two separate doors, a window that can pop out, whatever it is, but there have to be two exits. A lot of times your front entrance is up the stairway or beside the furnace room or whatever it is and that's what's going to go first and then you're left with nothing to get out.

Mr Owens: I'll make my comments quick.

Mr Etruw: I wanted to give an answer to that. I want to talk about something. Mr Johnson made a comment as to whether to empower the tenants to come forward to complain to the authorities. We met the Mississauga mayor last night and such a question was raised. She said the government has no right to go to the landlord just to go in to inspect the condition of the basement apartment. This was my question, if it was right to pose a threat or an obstacle in the way of the government officials to inspect the basement apartment when a human's life is at stake, because it is our experience. Who wants to answer?

Mr Owens: I just want to thank the group for their presentation. I represent a riding in southern Scarborough which is probably not too much different in terms of Mississauga with respect to its housing needs. People still need a warm place to live and rain not falling on them, whether they're in Scarborough or Mississauga.

Our experience has been similar. The province attempted to let the politicians do their thing. In Scarborough it has been 10 years, and now we're still being accused of imposing our will on the people. But I think what we're doing is legislating reality and giving tenants a means to a remedy if in fact they're living in substandard conditions, and I appreciate your comments today.

Mr Gary Wilson: Thank you very much for coming forward with your presentation. Especially the personal testimony is so useful in helping us draft the legislation to make sure it does meet the needs of the tenants. I want to say, contrary to a couple of things you've heard here, that in fact we are making it safer, making provisions in the legislation and through regulations to make sure that the problems having to do with fire safety are met.


We certainly have the testimony of the acting fire marshal that they've been part of the process that has looked at the draft regulations. In the presentation yesterday they said, "We believe the accessory apartment draft regulations will play a significant role in addressing the unacceptable fire losses in residential buildings in Ontario."

If these things are being worked on to make sure that the provisions are there, that tenants can come forward to say that their places aren't safe -- and they can work with the landlords, because we've also heard that many landlords have a stake in providing good housing as well. They not only are I think happy to see people housed affordably, but they also receive income, which suits their needs as well.

It isn't a question if it is going to be necessarily an adversarial relationship between tenants and landlords. Once they're made legal, that threat of action by the municipality is removed and you can work together to bring it up to standard, which can often be very inexpensive. Maybe a smoke alarm will do it. The fire separations are often inexpensive as well. It isn't as though we're looking at huge costs here to make it decent, affordable housing.

Again, I want to thank you. Have we got a moment for a response?

The Vice-Chair: Do you want to respond?

Mr Krucker: We've had some experience where landlords have come and enlisted our support in cases where the municipalities wanted to shut their unit down, and we've also had landlords and tenants come together wanting to figure out a way that they can have a legal apartment or have some security in that situation. We would like to see it be a working relationship, not an adversarial role, definitely.

The Vice-Chair: Unfortunately, we'll have to conclude your presentation. We thank you for being here, and certainly your comments will be taken into account as we look at clause-by-clause in two weeks.


Mr Glenn Rumbell: Thank you for seeing us today. My name is Glenn Rumbell. I'm president of the Rent Check Credit Bureau. To my right is Allistair Trent. Allistair works with our company, and he spends a lot of time representing landlords in Ontario courts. He's going to be speaking to you primarily today.

Mr Allistair Trent: As stated, my name is Allistair Trent. I'm from Rent Check Credit Bureau, a division of Communix Corp. Rent Check Credit Bureau is a 20-year-old organization that was originally founded by a lawyer, an accountant who had practices in the residential property management area.

We function as an association for landlords, and we also have two business or commercial functions. The first of those would be consumer reporting, and our function in that capacity is pursuant to a bulk file inspection contract with the Ministry of the Attorney General. We collect information from landlord and tenant court applications throughout Ontario and store them in a data bank. Landlords then access that data bank for the purposes of assessing whether a tenant has a habitual history of non-payment of rent or creating problems for other tenants or their landlords, drugs, violence or other eviction problems relating to their tenancy.

The bureau's position is that Bill 120's introduction at this time would be premature without looking at the entire legislative framework or the systemic realities and the practicalities of enforcing people's rights within that legislative framework.

Our position is that the existing laws were devised with the concept of envisioning a large corporate landlord and balancing the power of that landlord by providing tenants with a great deal of rights and systems and that when the large corporate landlord is substituted by the small landlord who is trying to finance a home, the balance of power shifts markedly to the tenant's favour.

Again, it's our concern that Bill 120 would encourage people to become small home owner landlords and would thereby bring them into a current system that is, first, overburdened by overload and incapacitated and is also ill equipped and designed to address the realities of the relationship between a home owner and a tenant living under the same roof.

In our presentation, the first page is a survey that we have conducted from our own data collection and then confirmed with the Ministry of the Attorney General of the number of court applications filed in Metro Toronto court under the Landlord and Tenant Act from the period of 1988 to 1993 inclusive.

It shows that in 1988, prior to the recession, there were 11,900 applications filed in total; as of 1992 that had ballooned to 18,516, or an almost 65% increase, and in 1993 dropped slightly to 17,716. However, this third quarter has remained unabated from the 1992 level.

In addition to this, under the social contract there has been reduced staffing at the court, which has caused further problems in processing applications. The delays that this results in have particularly destructive effects on landlords who would seek to become accessory apartment landlords, for a number of reasons. The delays, when they concern unpaid rent and evictions for non-payment of rent, affect small landlords far more greatly than large landlords, for obvious reasons.

If you are a small home owner trying to pay the mortgage, a $500-cash-flow-a-month impediment by the tenant not paying rent combined with the legal fees of having to evict the tenant is a considerable burden and in some cases has forced some of our clients to lose their homes; whereas for large landlords, obviously a corporate landlord is unaffected by the cash-flow problem of $500 a month from some tenant who isn't paying rent out of the hundreds that one would have.

The more pressing problem is that when people live in the same house together and become involved in litigation and landlord and tenant disputes, these disputes tend to become extremely exacerbated and ugly and expensive for the landlords. At the same time the landlord and tenant have to continue to cohabit while they're going to court and the landlord attempting to essentially evict the tenant or the tenant asserting some right against the landlord.

I've attached to my exhibits two cases that we had test-released to the media last year to see what public reaction would be. Both of them ended up on the front page of the Saturday paper. The first one concerns an illegal basement apartment in the borough of East York.

First of all, I'd like to dispel the myth that basement apartment tenants are not covered by the Landlord and Tenant Act. There is extensive authority to indicate the simple fact that the Planning Act does not vacate the tenants' rights under the Landlord and Tenant Act. In fact, this is a startling example of such a case.

In this particular case a tenant moved into the basement of a client of ours and immediately after moving in became late and eventually did not pay any rent. When the landlord attempted to collect the rent, the tenant phoned the police and erroneously said that the landlord had tried to break into her house for the purpose of collecting the rent. Those charges were dismissed without trial as being absolutely unfounded.

The landlord, after losing $1,300 of rent by the time they got to court, successfully did gain an eviction order against the tenant. The tenant then countersued the landlord for an abatement of rent on the basis of her apartment being illegal and that was dismissed as an abuse of the process of the court.

The fundamental problem with all this is that while the tenant may have been evicted, the landlady, who was renting out her basement to support her child in university, lost some $1,500 rent and also had $5,000 worth of legal fees in defending both the criminal and civil actions and prosecuting the eviction action to rid herself of the tenant. Of course, if the proposition that tenants had no protection in illegal basement apartments was correct, she could have literally put the tenant out on the street. However, that is not the case.

The following page directly gets to the point of our argument and it's entitled "So You Want To Be A Landlord." It warns people who would seek to become small landlords against doing so without having a full apprehension of the laws and regulations concerning landlord and tenant issues in their province.

In this instance, some tenants moved into commercial premises under the guise that they were going to use them for business purposes and, once there, immediately said they were residential tenants and that they weren't paying any rent and they were suing the landlord unless they got $10,000. Luckily, this landlord did have the money for a fight and he decided to evict the tenants. It took him a year and a half to do so; 17 days in various provincial and superior courts and a total of over $25,000 in legal fees.

Our position is not that there is this problem with the laws as they exist with relation to landlords and tenants or evicting tenants speedily. The current laws, as they exist, provide basically for a seven-day period to rectify offensive behaviour or a 15-day period to pay the rent. Four clear days after that, one may appear before court and obtain an eviction order.

The reality is with the amount of backlog in the system, four clear months would be a better estimate of the time it takes to evict somebody in the case of a contested matter. The proposition that someone can have a tenant out within a month or two, if they haven't paid the rent and the tenant puts up a fight, is simply not a reality from my view working within the court system.

Our primary suggestion as to how to go about improving that and to improve the access to justice for all landlords and tenants is basically to eliminate the duplication and the concurrence of jurisdiction within the courts themselves. The majority of contested matters that occur in the General Division, which is a superior court and is charged with matters such as eviction or severe states of disrepair and such, do not concern any serious issues and really concern tenants claiming some monetary damage as a result of their apartment being in disrepair after they've left, or issues that could be dealt with either in the inexpensive and informal forum set up by the Small Claims Court or in the Ministry of Housing.

For example, a $1,200 dispute in the Small Claims Court, which is less than a third of its jurisdiction, can be dealt with without the need of counsel, without the need of legal aid, at far less public expense by simply the tenant or the landlord filling out a form and submitting it and having a summary hearing in an equity court. However, when these disputes are tried in the General Division -- I have here one of the pleadings from a $1,200 dispute that didn't involve possession where the tenants had already moved out.

It's simply my submission that to try these cases in the General Division and to allow people to seek minor monetary relief that's available elsewhere ties up the court -- this case took four days to litigate -- and it prevents people from bringing forward their legitimate disputes and getting them adjudicated in an expedient manner.


Another example of how the current policy is unsuited to landlords is found on the last page of my exhibits, which is a procedures manual directive from the Human Rights Commission. This manual directive properly addresses the issue of discrimination, and we don't advocate discrimination by small landlords, or anyone else for that matter. However, the rough justice or the shotgun approach that is employed by this procedures manual deprives landlords, particularly small landlords, requisite information, important information that's not discriminatory when it's properly and responsibly used.

This procedures manual would seem to say the only acceptable criteria in electing whether to accept or reject tenants would be whether or not they could provide first and last months' rent and it would specifically exclude such criteria as minimum income rental history, credit rating and references and the use of the guarantor.

First of all, as I've already stated, the provision of one month's rent is not sufficient security in the case of a legal dispute erupting because, on balance, it takes a great deal longer than that, in the Toronto court system at any rate.

Secondly, I'd like to ask the committee, if they were in the position of a small landlord and Ms Nicholson, who was the East York tenant, applied to you as a tenant, would you not expect to have the right and want to know that Ms Nicholson, as appears from this article, has not paid rent in five years and has been evicted from every premises that she has ever lived in.

Thirdly, if you lived in a house with your children and you were contemplating taking on a tenant, would you not want to be apprised of the fact that the potential tenant you had might have been evicted for running a crack house or engaging in violent activity or a number of other problems that may seriously affect the relationship.

This policy directive and all the foregoing are examples of how the law doesn't protect people who would hope to benefit from this legislation. I've heard many submissions from advocates of basement apartments who submitted: Allow people who wish to buy a home to more easily afford one and to use the rental income to support it. But the harsh reality of the situation is that it's a very, very high stakes game of Russian roulette and that just -- not just as likely, but there's a very high possibility that you may expect $500 a month and end up with not one red cent and $2,000 worth of legal fees to evict a problem tenant.

Basically, our position is that the laws as they're currently formulated are very well designed to protect tenants against bad landlords. Bad landlords can't go anywhere. If a tenant is successful, the landlord owns the property and can look to it. They do nothing to protect landlords against tenants, such as the two examples I've cited here, who would seek to abuse their rights.

The primary purpose of our submission here is that we believe the court should be freed up to deal with serious issues, and then we don't need fast-track evictions, we don't need all this special legislation covering various groups. When people have rights, they can get to a court and enforce them and not be hindered by people tying up the court with frivolous matters and abuses of its process.

Mr Rumbell: I'd just like to reinforce that our central point is not that this legislation -- in effect, that it's legalizing the basement apartment -- isn't a needed piece of legislation. I think having them with their illegal status isn't a great state of affairs either. Rather dealing with that one issue without dealing with the other issue at the same time is not an effective way of properly resolving the problem.

What you would be doing is sending a signal to small home owners, people trying to buy a house, that it's all right to have a basement apartment. Many of those people either don't inform themselves about their obligations as landlords, or even if they do, they don't give proper weight to the consequences of being a landlord and then find themselves involved in a system which is set up to protect an impoverished tenant or a tenant without economic resources against a landlord that is a corporation and has tens of thousands of units and a legal action is simply a cost of doing business. That's what the legislation now is formulated to address. It's not formulated to address an individual home owner with very slight economic resources.

Mr Tilson: Thank you for your presentation. It certainly puts another slant on the problem, and I guess you're right: There are all kinds of problems in landlord and tenant law that have probably existed for a considerable period of time, probably through three different governments. I don't think the finger can be pointed at any one government, quite frankly.

You look at the issue of why there were no apartment buildings being built by private enterprise in the last four or five years, or few apartment buildings being constructed. Why are there no or few legal accessory units being constructed? One of the reasons is the story that you have just told us, that it's very difficult to be a landlord. You have just hammered that home, that if you get into the landlord business, you'd better know what you're doing or you could end up like Mrs Paleopanos, which is just a horror story. In fact, it's remarkable. I'd heard about this before you'd come to these hearings.

Is your message really that the whole issue should be reviewed? I mean, the whole issue of landlord and tenant law or the whole ball of wax should be reviewed, that this is not going to solve the problems of the conditions of tenants or the conditions of landlords?

Mr Trent: That would be exactly our position, that the whole landlord and tenant relationship was formulated at a time that's markedly different from now. The systems that have developed as a result of the relationship and social policy have also been developed totally in favour of the tenant.

For example, there are numerous legal aid clinics all over the city that help tenants and they provide full-service representation, the same as if they went to a law firm. There is one clinic funded by the legal aid plan for landlords. They will only help landlords who literally are on the verge of bankruptcy, and all they will do is give you a brochure for $25 that you can go in and represent yourself and take on legal aid lawyers with this type of documentation and hope for the best.

The bottom line is that small landlords, if they're going to be small landlords and brought into, as you admit, a tough situation of being a landlord, have to be given some type of equal access to the justice system and some type of system where they can inexpensively ascertain and assert their rights without being subjected to the same standard as the large corporate landlord with all his attendant resources.

Mr Tilson: We have had legal clinic after legal clinic come to these hearings and make presentations, and very few of them act for landlords, if any.

Mr Rumbell: None.

Mr Tilson: They're all for tenants. The question I have is, with this new legislation --

Mr Owens: Is that a startling discovery?

Mr Tilson: You're going to get your turn.

Mr Owens: Good.

Mr Tilson: The problem with this legislation is that we're now going to have a whole new class of landlords who won't be the big, bad landlords that the NDP has painted. They will be average people who are trying to pay their rent or like the woman who's trying to assist her daughter or son, whoever it was, going through university.

The question I have is, should a government provide equal assistance to the new breed of landlord, new legal assistance to stickhandle their way through the myriad rules that have been created by different governments?

Mr Trent: Yes, we believe they should with respect to the serious issues, such as standards of repair and safety and maintenance. We believe that with respect to minor disputes, it would be a saving to the public purse in respect of both the court system and the legal aid system to relegate those to the jurisdictions where the legislators set up a specific forum for people to go without counsel and inexpensively and quickly adjudicate their legal rights. When there's $300 at stake, I really don't see the need for four days in a superior court with counsel to adjudicate those type of concerns.


Mr Rumbell: Small Claims Court.

Mr Trent: Yes, Small Claims Court or the Ministry of Housing.

Mr Tilson: How this legislation all got started, of course, was the sexist term of "granny flats." We're now going to have senior citizens who are going to be trying to sustain their house because of the cost of living. It cries out for what you're speaking for.

Mr Owens: I want to thank you for your presentation. It was crisp and to the point. I appreciate your comments with respect to not necessarily needing a fast-track eviction process. Now, we may have different reasons for agreeing that fast-track evictions are not on, but I appreciate the point that we do have a process now and what we should be taking a look at is how to resource that process. In terms of looking at alternative dispute resolution methods rather than, as you say, attending at court for four days, I think it is a reasonable request.

We've seen the tenants from hell. We know that there are landlords from hell, and I recall this case quite clearly. In terms of the --

Mr Daigeler: This is getting pretty devilish.

Mr Owens: And there are also MPPs who come from hell.

Mr Daigeler: Speak for yourself.

Mr Owens: The question I've been asking groups on a repeated basis is, how do we have this kind of conjoint educational effort so it's not just the tenants who are being informed of their rights? I subscribe to the view that not all landlords are out there trying to gouge, kill and screw their tenants, so we need to have a conjoint process to educate both parties as to what their rights and their responsibilities are. This doesn't mean there's no responsibility.

Mr Rumbell: I think our point is that education is not just the answer to the landlord, because even if you inform a small landlord going in that there is a Landlord and Tenant Act and have him read it, that's not really getting at the problem.

The problem is the fact that the courts are enormously backlogged and that people can literally lose four or five months worth of rental income, possibly thousands of dollars, while they're enforcing their rights that you're asking them to be aware of. That's really the problem that we see existing and that this legislation, if it passes, will only exacerbate, because it's encouraging more people to take on these apartments.

Mr Owens: On the other hand, you can't make legislation based on worst-case scenarios. This person definitely was a problem, to say the least, and it caused a lot of discomfort to the family that was involved. But in terms of the protection of the greater group, I think I would want to have those kinds of processes in place.

Mr Rumbell: But they're already in place. The tenant in an illegal apartment currently would have access to the courts under the Landlord and Tenant Act.

Mr Owens: Right.

Mr Rumbell: It's rather the signal that is being sent to other people to invite them into the system, which is a big concern. You're sending that out at a time when the whole system is overloaded.

Mr Trent: I would also like to respond to that by saying, when you speak of education, the current education system in place for tenants is legal clinics. Legal clinics are run by lawyers, and this --

Mr Owens: But there are landlord self-help organizations out there as well.

Mr Trent: There is one in Ontario, and it has no staff lawyer. The way that tenants are educated are within the adversarial system. That's the way the courts work. There is no effort to try to mete things out or educate people and work out a deal. If you go and ask for assistance, you get a trial and you go to court and fight it out between the two of you.

Mr Owens: I'm not sure that legal clinics are always wanting to encourage litigation. The clinics that I've been involved with clearly are more into the settlement mode. It doesn't help the system by forcing people into court, and if there's a way to discuss with the tenant or the landlord to come to a mutually agreeable resolution, then they play that role as well. I don't think they're just out there forcing people into court. It doesn't do their workloads any good either.

Mr Rumbell: No, I don't think we're saying the legal clinics are necessarily out there just trying to bash the landlords and fill the courts with dockets. That's not what we're saying. But the reality is that for a tenant to go to a legal aid clinic, if the lawyer perceives a triable issue, that issue will be pursued at no cost to the tenant. The landlord may be in a similar cash-flow crunch, and just responding to the tenant will incur thousands of dollars.

I can tell you, every week in our office we see instances where something will be appealed, where the process will be used, and the landlord is saying: "I just can't afford this any more. Why can't I have access to legal aid? Why can the tenant proceed in this matter?"

Mr Daigeler: I certainly appreciate your presentation, because frankly, even though we've had four weeks of hearings, this is a new perspective that you've brought to these procedures and I appreciate what you're saying. Nevertheless, I'm wondering whether you have any specific comments on basement apartments and making them legal. In view of your experience with landlords, is it going to be a big problem for the landlords that you've been dealing with if we have this Bill 120, or is it not? Do you have any kind of comment on that?

Mr Trent: As I say, the applicable legislation in our view, and we've upheld in the courts, is that it does apply to illegal basement apartments that are already in existence. One cannot say that the apartment's illegal and that makes the entire contract void. That's an antiquated view of contract law, in our view and in the view of the courts.

From the current perspective, the tenants who are there already do have the protection of the Landlord and Tenant Act, and I can certainly say, from having probably one of the biggest practices in Toronto in landlord and tenant, that there is no shortage of tenants who live in illegal basement apartments who come forward to try and assert their rights.

Mr Daigeler: Are they successful?

Mr Trent: Oh, by all means. The Paleopanos case that everyone refers to was in respect to an illegally zoned basement apartment. Theoretically if I had adopted the position it was illegal, I simply would have gone and pleaded that the contract was void and she had no rights and I could put her out on the street. However, that's not a correct view of the law as it currently exists. Basement apartment tenants cannot be put out on the street; they cannot be forced into uninhabitable conditions.

They are fearful of calling the zoning department to enforce the repair and maintenance standards because the municipal departments will say it's an illegal apartment and make the landlord close it down. But the courts aren't the people who are doing that, and their rights under the Landlord and Tenant Act aren't vacated and their rights as they relate to their landlord are unaffected. It's the rights as they relate between them and the municipality that are the problem.

Mr Daigeler: Again, because you seem to have such extensive experience with landlords, do you think that most of the landlords who presently have illegal apartments because of zoning restrictions are going to convert to legal status, make the necessary safety and health adjustments?

Mr Trent: A great many of the people who have illegal basement apartments literally do not know that it's illegal to do so. The ones who do, I would imagine, would convert. Maybe it's because our organization isn't attractive to these types of people, but I have yet to see any of these landlords I've heard about who have just horrible, squalid living conditions with six people living in their basement or anything like that. Frankly, the clients that I've dealt with on illegal basement apartments in fact would like to make them legal.

The Chair: Thank you for coming, gentlemen.



The Chair: Good afternoon. Welcome to the committee. The committee has allocated 15 minutes for your presentation. You can use that as you wish. You should begin by introducing yourself and your colleagues for the purposes of our electronic Hansard recording.

Ms Debra Phelps: My name is Debra Phelps. I am here to use my time to introduce to you Maureen Callaghan, a housing coordinator from Jessie's, and three teenagers who use Jessie's services. They are, to my right, Nadine, Rachel and Christine. I'm going to hand the portion of my time over to these people who are going to talk about their experiences in basement apartments and apartments in houses.

Ms Rachel Garrick: My name is Rachel Garrick and I'm 15 years old. I arrived in Toronto two years ago with my family. My family then moved to Vancouver and I stayed with my boyfriend and his family. I'm presently living in Massey Centre, which is a maternity home, and my baby is due on February 25.

Because of my age, I'm not eligible for welfare right now, but my boyfriend is eligible for student welfare. When we began our search for housing, we found that most of the places available to us were apartments in houses.

I plan to move out of Massey Centre when my baby is born and I'd like to know that if there was something wrong, like the heat wasn't working, I could call an inspector to fix that, because I feel housing is a right and not a privilege.

Ms Nadine Banton: I'm not quite a teenager. I'm 22 years old. I have been on my own since I was 16 years old. I was in high school at the time when I moved out on my own and I have lived in basement apartments. I do know what it's like to look for other apartments than basement apartments, but at the time, because of my financial situation -- I was on student assistance -- I couldn't afford a condominium or anything else, so I ended up having to go for what's best in terms of my income.

I've found subsidized housing now. I've only been in subsidized housing for three years now. Before that it's all been basement apartments. I have two kids. I don't see why basement apartments shouldn't be legalized. Sometimes when I was in a basement apartment, I didn't feel I had a right to complain, because if I do, I would be kicked out, and if I don't, I would have to put up with certain things that are not covered under the bill of rights. I do think, like she says, that housing is a right and it's not a privilege. Thank you.

Ms Christine Johnson: My name is Christine Johnson. I'm a young mother of a six-month-old son. This is my son, Jamal. I am presently living in a basement apartment with my son and my common-law husband, Mohammed. The apartment I'm living in is a basement apartment. It's a two-bedroom. The apartment I'm living in isn't completely underground; the windows are on ground level. The apartment itself is self-contained. I have two exits, a laundry room and a front lawn. I pay $800 rent plus hydro. I am presently on a very low income. I and my husband are on welfare assistance.

I have lived in a total of five apartments since I have been on my own, four of which have been basement apartments. I have never been in a really high income bracket considering I have never had a whole lot of education, so I've never had a really good job.

I think basement apartments should be legalized. There are too many low-income families being taken advantage of. There are illegal basement apartments right now, some of which do not have adequate heating or insulation etc, being rented to unsuspecting low-income families who have no other place to go and who can't afford to move. These people are not being protected by our government.

As long as basement apartments are maintained, we need the apartments. Even though we are on a low income, we deserve to live in any part of the city we want, not just an area designated to us, such as Toronto minus Rosedale, without being discriminated against. We should be protected. Thank you.

Mr Owens: I'd like to thank you for your presentation this afternoon. While the advocacy groups have worked quite hard in terms of their level of support for the bill, I think it's always impressive for the committee to see the consumers, the tenants who are living in basement apartments, and to hear about the real-life concerns of tenants, especially tenants such as young moms and families who need a place that's safe and comfortable. I appreciate your taking the time to come here today and I certainly hope we can speed this stuff through for your families. Thank you.

Mr Fletcher: Thank you for your presentation. I'm just wondering, if Bill 120 goes through as is, do you feel that the requirements as far as building codes, fire safety regulations, which are going to be in the regs and everything, are going to take a weight off your mind when it comes to the safety of living in a apartment in a house?

Ms Garrick: Definitely, yes.

Mr Fletcher: We have heard from other groups about something called fast-track eviction, the right to evict people fast if they're a problem. How do you feel about that? That's for anyone.

Ms Garrick: That's really unfair, and I don't think that landlords have the right to do that. That's why if I was going to rent an apartment, I'd like to know that it's legal so that I was protected against that.

Ms Banton: In terms of renting a basement apartment or any other for that matter, I don't feel that they should have less right being in a basement apartment than any other apartment, a condominium or anywhere else for that matter. If they are in a basement apartment and they're not covered, I don't think somebody else who's in a flat or anything else should be covered more than the person who's in a basement apartment. When people rent basement apartments, it's usually because they can't afford the one above them or the one above that. I would think in terms of rights and privileges, I think all the way they should get it.

Mr Mills: Thank you for coming. I was interested in your remark that you pay $800 for a basement apartment with hydro.

Ms Christine Johnson: Yes, I do.

Mr Mills: I've been looking for an apartment myself for the last couple of weeks, and I can tell you that around here I've run into a lot of them at less than that. Are you trying to tell me that folks who've got these apartments with lesser rent discriminate against you because you're a young mother with a child? Is that fitted into it?

Ms Christine Johnson: Yes. We're designated to live outside of Toronto. We cannot live in downtown Toronto.

Mr Mills: Why not?

Ms Christine Johnson: Because of the fact that basement apartments are only legalized in certain areas.

Mr Mills: No, no. There are regular apartments available.

Ms Christine Johnson: I understand that, but I mean Rosedale, they're not legal there. Why? I'm not saying I'm paying a low amount of rent, I'm not, but I have a very huge apartment. Just to let you know, I have a very large apartment. I have two very large bedrooms, where I fit a very large bed as well as a crib in my room.

Mr Offer: Thank you for your presentation. I think it's important to hear the experiences of many people in this area. I have a question based on your personal experience as to whether there is a difference in the basement apartment if the owner does or does not live in the other portion of the house.

Ms Banton: Your question is if it's different?

Mr Offer: Owner-occupied.

Ms Banton: If the person lives there, if it's different?

Mr Offer: Yes.

Ms Banton: I would think not. It doesn't matter if the person lives there or not. Basically if it's a house, which it usually is if it's a basement, the whole house would usually be rented, the top, the middle and the basement. You're living there and it's an apartment, just like a regular apartment building. Owners don't live there, there's only a landlord and superintendent. So it shouldn't make a difference whether or not they live there.

Mr Offer: The next question that I'd like to ask you on this matter is -- it's not on the fast-track eviction. I think that's going to be for another day. I'd like to get your reaction to this: Many people, primarily municipalities, have come and said the legalization of basement apartments takes away from municipalities the opportunity for them to control their neighbourhoods in terms of the amount of people, in terms of the amount of cars, and a whole variety of other things. I'd like to get your response to that position.


Ms Christine Johnson: Why should they be able to control who lives where? This is a free country. We should be able to live wherever we want. I don't think it's fair for municipalities to say where we can and cannot live because we are low-income, because we can't afford regular apartments. Like I said, I do pay a very high rent in a basement apartment, but most apartments are lower than other apartments in buildings or houses or whatever. I don't think it's fair for municipalities to be able to say who lives where.

Mr Mammoliti: Hear, hear.

Mr Offer: I understand that. I think I know what the municipalities would say to that.

I want to thank you very much for your presentation and for the response to the question. As you know, through the committee process, we receive an awful lot of different positions and it is important I think for us as committee members to ask what is your response to another's position. It allows us to better appreciate the bill and what it actually means. So I thank you for those responses.

Mr Tilson: Thank you for coming and telling us your personal stories. I'd like you to tell me a little bit about the types of basement apartments that you live in.

One of the purposes of the legislation is not only to provide more housing accommodation but also to provide better accommodation. We've had different people from fire departments and municipalities come and talk about what's going to be required.

For example, units must be separated by types of walls for fire separation; there must be smoke alarm systems or sprinkler systems; means of egress to the outside -- in other words, if there's a fire, there's a clear exit to the exterior, particularly from basement apartments. A lot of basement apartments have been built or constructed in a makeshift fashion and there may be inadequate electrical construction or inadequate plumbing construction.

Looking at the various units that you've stayed in or lived in, can you tell us about the quality of the type of basement apartments that you're in or have been in?

Ms Banton: Mr Tilson, my experience of being in a basement apartment is that, like I said, I was young and couldn't afford much. People are living in basement apartments and they are not covered under regular rights. Therefore, if they do speak up on these issues, like you said, a fire hazard or whatever the case might be, electrical problems or whatever, the point that I'm trying to make is, people are living in there whether they're legal or not.

If these people were to get them legalized, I don't see a problem with the owner finding funding to better suit these apartments to rent them in the first place, instead of people being forced to be in them because they can't afford much or they're not covered. Say they're living in a basement apartment and bring the landlord to court or whatever because there's not an exit or door or it's a fire hazard, they're not covered under the bill of rights.

Mr Tilson: I understand all that. What I'm trying to determine is the quality of existing illegal basement apartments. I now have before me three people who have lived in or are living in basement apartments. What I'm trying to find out is, what is the quality of existing basement apartments, legal or illegal, in the province of Ontario?

Ms Banton: They're very good quality as far as I'm concerned.

Mr Tilson: All of you can say that?

Ms Christine Johnson: I live in a basement apartment. In my hallway, I have two exits, as I said. Both exits are exits for everybody. We have sprinkler systems.

Mr Tilson: Exits for everybody?

Ms Christine Johnson: There are three apartments in the building. It's a semibuilding, semihouse, but like I said, it is a basement. There are two exits for every apartment.

Mr Tilson: Each apartment has an exit for the outside?

Ms Christine Johnson: Each apartment. We have the same main exit, but we all have doors on the front and on the side. The house is separated. It's just completely detached. I have smoke detectors in every one of my bedrooms, every one of my rooms, in my kitchen. The walls are fire-resistant; they're very hard walls. I think if they are legalized, if they rent them out, they're obligated to do this, they're obligated to make them. I think that's the point she was trying to make, that they're obligated to make them like that.

Mr Tilson: Thank you very much for coming and telling us your story.

The Chair: Thank you. We appreciated your coming before the committee today.


The Chair: The next presentation will come from Mr Hood. Mr Hood, please come to the table.

Mr Daigeler: Is it proper? I would like to move a motion. Do you want to do that?

The Chair: Perhaps it would be more appropriate to wait till Mr Hood is finished his presentation. He has 15 minutes and then we could deal with it. I have no way of turning down the motion, but I think it would be more appropriate that you make it later.

Good afternoon, Mr Hood. We appreciate your taking the time to come down and see us. The committee has allocated 15 minutes for your presentation. You should begin by reintroducing yourself for the purposes of Hansard and then you may begin.

Mr Rob Hood: Good afternoon. Thank you for inviting me. My name's Rob Hood. I live in a house in the east end of the city which is managed by Ecuhome Corp. As you probably know, Ecuhome strives to provide affordable, safe and secure accommodation.

I first came in contact with Ecuhome about two years ago when, after a period of illness, I was unable to work for some time and was very much in need of affordable and safe housing. I was interviewed by the current residents in the home and was accepted as a member of the household.

Initially, things went well and we lived cooperatively and comfortably. However, it came to my attention that one of the other residents was a recovering alcoholic and periodically he went on binges. When that happened, he caused great distress to the other members of the household when he would come home late at night and cause upset and noise and, on a couple of occasions, destruction of property in the house, and generally made a real nuisance of himself. From time to time he'd be accompanied by other people and in the morning there would be a great mess: beer bottles, cigarette butts, general disruption in the home.

The other residents and myself approached him and suggested that he give some concern to the needs of other people in the house. He gave us assurances that his behaviour would change, but it didn't really have any lasting effect because very quickly he returned to the same kind of behaviour.

At that point we asked the Ecuhome staff to get involved and they spoke with him and gave him a verbal warning that if this behaviour continued he would face some consequences. One evening he came home, was particularly disruptive and got into a fight with one of the other residents. The police were called, but they were really unable to do very much because the other resident was unable or unwilling to press any charges.

He received a further warning at that point from the Ecuhome staff. The final straw was when he, I guess, exhausted all his available funds and stole a VCR, which was my property in the house and was there to be shared with the others. He sold it to obtain funds to buy more alcohol.

At that point, Ecuhome stepped in and terminated his residency with the complete support and encouragement of the other residents in the house. It had become intolerable, the violence, the threats of violence, the disruption to the safety and security of the others. We simply could not continue to live with it.


My point on this is that to restrict the right of Ecuhome to remove someone for violent or threatening behaviour would violate one of the basic principles of the organization, which is to provide safe and secure housing. If he had been allowed to remain, the other residents become the victims. He can simply sit there and we can do absolutely nothing about it.

The normal disciplinary approach that is followed is one of progressive discipline, of verbal warnings followed by a written warning which may lead to termination of residency. It's not an arbitrary process and it's applied only with just cause. Residents are well aware of this process when they come into the home and they know the consequences of behaviour which repeatedly violates the terms of residency. Further, even after a decision to terminate a residency is made, the resident has the right of appeal to an independent committee.

If Ecuhome were to come under the provisions of the Landlord and Tenant Act, I would strongly encourage you to find some way to permit them to still move ahead with a prompt termination of a residency where the behaviour clearly warrants it. To do otherwise would place the remaining residents in an untenable position. That's all I have to say.

The Chair: Thank you for coming. We have questions, I'm sure, beginning with the official opposition.

Mr Daigeler: I think that's fine. I think it's pretty clear what you said.

The Chair: Then the third party, as they say.

Mr David Johnson: It certainly is very clear and we have heard this message before. It's one that I hope we're all listening to because obviously programs such as the one at Ecuhome are very valuable programs and we shouldn't be putting in place mechanisms that make it more difficult to have those kinds of programs. I guess having that one disruptive person -- as you've indicated, you went through a progressive series of stages involving the other residents there.

Mr Hood: The residents get together and discuss the problem and then approach the offending resident to try and resolve the problem within the home. If we are unable to do so, we ask for assistance from the staff.

Mr David Johnson: So as you've said, this is not an arbitrary process.

Mr Hood: I don't believe so.

Mr David Johnson: But somehow you have to deal with these kinds of problems. I wasn't quite clear. There have been various suggestions as to how to deal with it. One is an exemption from the Landlord and Tenant Act. Second would be a fast track, I guess. A third may be a temporary relocation; I'm not sure if that's partly to do with a fast track or not. What is your view on what would be the appropriate mechanism?

Mr Hood: I'm not completely familiar with those options, but I think it has to be something which provides immediate action and not something which allows the resident simply to sit in the house to wait for due process.

Mr David Johnson: The Landlord and Tenant Act, as we've heard earlier this afternoon, where it's contested can take a good four months, and I've heard longer periods than that. I suppose a process that takes four months would put many of the other residents under a lot of duress.

Mr Hood: It would be extremely difficult.

Mr David Johnson: We've heard that in other situations sometimes the other residents actually leave, and that's the unfortunate outcome. The fast-track mechanism would speed up the Landlord and Tenant Act. One deputant I think indicated that perhaps in the vicinity of two weeks might be workable.

Mr Hood: That could certainly respond to most situations.

Mr Tilson: Just a brief question on the existing process: Is it working? Are people who perhaps shouldn't be here accepting that or are they demanding that their rights are being violated?

Mr Hood: To the best of my knowledge the vast majority are accepting of the process. As I mentioned, if they feel they have been unfairly dealt with, they do have the right of appeal to an independent committee.

Mr Tilson: So, to date, it has worked.

Mr Hood: I believe so.

Mr Gary Wilson: We often hear this theme about listening and they suggested that we all want to be listening to this. I think it's showing that Mr Tilson is listening because he did raise a question of how often does this happen and whether the process is working. You seem to think it doesn't happen all that often, and when it does the process works, for the most part. So really Bill 120, which brings in provisions of the Landlord and Tenant Act to provide protection, wouldn't affect very many people. Would you agree with that?

Mr Hood: Yes. I don't think it would affect very many people but it could have a very damaging effect on those who do require removal and those who are forced to remain in the house while that process is under way.

Mr Gary Wilson: That's right. But the other thing is, though, what we're hearing from other people who get nervous about fast-track evictions is the lack of an objective appeal process. Of course it can be abused, and you probably recognize that as well, especially for vulnerable people who have problems of many sorts, and to add to them the risk of losing their tenancy or even just having their privacy violated is not a good situation.

Mr Hood: Yes.

Mr Gary Wilson: Another thing about the fast-track eviction, it's very hard to come up with a process that really does respond in a way that is much better than what is there now, because there is of course the possibility, especially in a home like Ecuhome, where somebody is there to receive help, that they would recognize it's not working and would agree to leave.

Mr Hood: That happens also, yes.

Mr Gary Wilson: So this is what we're grappling with, of course, and I really appreciate your coming forward to give us this view. I think, from your submission and your answers to the questions, you are aware too of all the implications that we're looking at here: the need to balance the rights of the group with those of the individual.

Mr Hood: Yes, I think the protection needs to be there for those who require it but, as was mentioned earlier, it would be a shame to impede a program that is already working quite well.

Mr Gary Wilson: What about where problems do arise, addiction problems, say? If there were more community support, are you satisfied with the amount of community support you could turn to when emergencies arise?

Mr Hood: I think the programs are there. I know that Ecuhome staff would be more than willing to provide referrals for individuals who require that type of help. So I'm not sure that providing more community support is what's really needed. I think protection for those who require it is what is needed.

The Chair: Thank you, Mr Hood, for coming to see us today. We appreciated your taking the time to come down and talk to the members about this issue.

Mr Hood: Thank you for the opportunity.

Mr Daigeler: I'd like to move a motion. In view of the fact that we have not heard from the Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Community and Social Services, at least I understand you have not heard from them in response to your letter, and since there have been many, many questions raised with regard to the views of the Ministry of Health on the impact of Bill 120 on rehab, for lack of a better word, houses or homes --

The Chair: Mr Daigeler, before you make the argument maybe I could understand what the motion is.

Mr Daigeler: Okay, I'll put the motion then. In view of all of what I've just said, I move that the committee meet on Monday, March 7, in the afternoon, for the purpose of hearing from the Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Community and Social Services regarding the impact of Bill 120.

The Chair: Mr Daigeler has made a motion. Do you wish to speak to your motion, Mr Daigeler?

Mr Daigeler: I think I started giving the rationale for the motion. I think it would be proper on that Monday afternoon at least to give an opportunity to officials from the Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Community and Social Services to come before the committee and speak to us about their view, how the provisions of Bill 120 will impact on their clients and the groups that they're funding and in particular on the rehab programs that they're funding.

The Chair: Thank you. Mr Fletcher and Mr Mammoliti.

Mr Mammoliti: Thank you, Mr Chair --

Mr Fletcher: He said "Mr Fletcher."

Mr Mammoliti: No, he said "Mammoliti."

The Chair: I said Mr Fletcher and then Mr Mammoliti.

Mr Mammoliti: Oh, I'm sorry.

Mr Fletcher: May I hear that motion, please? I didn't quite catch the gist of it.

The Chair: It says, "I move that the committee meet on Monday, March 7, in the afternoon, for the purposes of hearing from the Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Community and Social Services."

Mr Fletcher: Oh, what for?

Interjection: He's put the question.

Mr Fletcher: I'm asking the mover a question. I just want a response.

Mr Daigeler: I explained it already. In fact in my oral comments I did say for the purpose of hearing on Bill 120. But if it's not clear enough to you --

Mr Fletcher: Okay. It's ministry people?

The Chair: That's what it says.

Mr Fletcher: It sounds okay.

Mr Mammoliti: I'm wondering whether we can make a friendly amendment to that and perhaps add a time: early in the afternoon, 1 o'clock. Would that be okay?

The Chair: Mr Mammoliti is just suggesting that you put a time on it, Mr Daigeler.

Mr Daigeler: To start at 1 o'clock instead of 2. Is that what you're saying?

Mr Mammoliti: We can hear from them in the early afternoon. From what I can see of the motion, it just says "the afternoon of." If we can be a little more specific and perhaps say 1 o'clock.

Mr Daigeler: Starting at 1 o'clock? I have no problem starting at 1 o'clock.

The Chair: I'll take that as a friendly amendment.

Mr Daigeler: But most likely we'll take the whole afternoon.

Mr Mammoliti: It most likely won't?

Mr Daigeler: It most likely will, but I'm not here to say that.

Mr Offer: Can I have a copy of this Hansard?

The Chair: I would like one too, Mr Offer.

Mr Mammoliti: No, we don't see any problem with it. We're okay with it.

The Chair: Mr Owens also indicated he wished to speak. Mr Owens: I was just going to say simply that I gather the consensus is that it's not an issue but let's have the folks in early or start a little bit early and get whatever answers are eluding the members opposite, get them on the table and then let's move into clause-by-clause.

Mr Fletcher: It sounds good to me.

The Chair: Further discussion? If not, shall Mr Daigeler's motion carry? Carried.

Before everyone runs, I have a couple of announcements. We would appreciate, and the committee clerk especially would appreciate, amendments with regard to Bill 120 to be in the clerk's office March 1, if that's possible. That provides all parties with an opportunity to peruse the amendments.

I would remind members that public hearings on Bill 95, Mr Mammoliti's private member's bill, commence next Monday at 1.

The committee adjourned at 1633.