A Windsor city councillor is looking for a comprehensive affordable housing strategy to develop more student housing to handle the increase in the student population at the University of Windsor and St. Clair College.
Ward 2 Coun. Fabio Costante asked the council question Monday, requesting the city to take a look at incentives and partnerships with the university and college to create more on-campus housing options.
Costante also wants to know if the city has any legislative authority that would require the post-secondary institutions to provide safe and affordable student housing.
“It changes the quality of life for permanent residents that live there. Things like dirty yards become more common. Parking become much more common,” said Costante Monday after the council meeting. “It also puts pressure in a lot of cases on adherence to property standards.”
The rookie councillor would also like to bring back the discussion around residential rental licensing -- with a pilot project in the west end. The concept was quashed by the previous council.
Costante says his intent is to create more housing options for students -- while limiting the intrusion on established residential neighbourhoods.
“I think there just needs to be a balanced approach and I think that balance hasn’t existed in a lot of neighbourhoods in the west end,” he said, noting a number the developments "aren’t consistent with the fabric of our residential neighbourhoods."
The council question was accompanied by a petition signed by residents – who oppose a development and rezoning application brought forward Monday night by R.C. Flood Grain Ltd at 3112 Wyandotte St. W. The landlord and developer, Kevin Flood, said the intention is to build student housing at this location, which will feature 16-units.
But neighbours don't believe the development fits the neighbourhood.
“If you’re bringing in more and more international students, that’s about money,” said resident Bernie Levasseur. “Then maybe the university should be part of this, as part of the city that we should do more on our part because they’re benefitting from the students.”
"Unfortunately this is a train that just keeps moving and it’s going to run us over,” said Chris Siefker, a Ward 2 resident who lives next door to the proposed student dwellings. Siefker says he has nothing against Flood or students, but worries about what will happen if other landlords take over the housing, or start renting out nearby homes. He’s also concerned about living in the shadow of a 10-metre tall house.
“When you have 85 per cent of the community saying no and you have a council who turns around and ignores the will of the people who live here who are saying no, they’re moving forward for what reason?” Siefker asked. “Why couldn’t we defer this? Why couldn’t we do the study they’re asking for?"
Administration will report back on Coun. Costante's question.