Property Standards, Bylaw Enforcement, Dominate Ward 2 Meeting

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The fifth of 10 City of Windsor Ward Meetings is in the books.

More than 100 residents packed the Church of Ascension on University Ave. Thursday night to hear what's going on in Ward 2. Councillor Fabio Costante kicked off the meeting with a top 10 list of what matters in his ward, headlined by: affordable housing, bylaw enforcement road work, heritage and development, parks, property standards, and speeding and traffic.

Costante took time to outline millions of dollars in parks and road improvements, but when the question period got underway complaints on bylaw enforcement and property standards dominated the conversation.

Several residents brought up what Costante says is historical problem in Ward 2 with the University of Windsor nearby, overcrowded boarding houses.

Costante says when four or more people sign an individual lease within the same property the city can enforce a boarding house bylaw, but landlords know a loophole that he says council is looking to close.

"That presents a huge challenge for us, because a lot of the landlords know how to get around it, they're signing one lease with a group of five or six students," he says. "I'm sure this will be debated at some point in the future at council and that allows for a similar type of enforcement mechanism if we pass this registry for better access for properties to be inspected."

Airbnbs were a hot topic during the Ward 3 meeting Tuesday, and that continued in Ward 2.

Residents, some of which have lived in their neighbourhood for more than 50-years, say Airbnbs come with loud parties, property damage, and parking issues.

Costante says Airbnbs are sprouting up everywhere, and the lack of regulation can't last forever.

"At the end of the day these are businesses and they should be licenced and registered as such in my view," says Costante. "There's actually a court case right now from an Airbnb in Toronto, depending on the outcome of that court case, it will give us the green light to impose some form of frame work for regulation around Airbnb's." 

Costante says property standards are a huge issue in Ward 2, especially with such a high renter population in the area.

Residents asked for active enforcement by the complaint based bylaw inspectors; a city service Costante says is stretched thin.

"It extracts a lot of resources and there have been times where we've been able to do some blitzes when resources were freed up," he says. "One of the things that I'll be pushing for, and it may require council investment, but looking at additional resources to do proactive blitzes as well."

Community benefits from the Gordie Howe International Bridge construction and the future Ambassador Bridge project were also part of Costante's top 10 Thursday night.

Ward 10 Councillor Jim Morrison's meeting is next. He'll be at the Fogolar Furlan Club on Thursday Oct. 17.