Cape Breton Post: ‘This isn’t just a problem of tenants’

Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now planning rally

SYDNEY — An association targeting slum landlords in the Cape Breton Regional Municipality is planning a demonstration Wednesday to rally support for the cause.

Evan Coole, organizing committee member for Cape Breton Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now, said the event grew out of the response the group has been getting on the doorstep as they attempt to raise awareness of the problem of substandard housing in the region.

“This isn’t just a problem of tenants, it’s a community problem and it requires a community response,” he said.

Coole said the group was disappointed in a recent meeting they had with CBRM Mayor John Morgan.

“He took it almost personally that we were raising issue with the CBRM and deflected attention to the province,” he said. 

 

Morgan said the CBRM adopted a minimum standards bylaw for residential housing a number of years ago, at a time when there was nothing else comparable within the province, and it is based on the strongest standards in place at other municipalities across Canada when it comes to protecting tenant rights. He added the CBRM has always acknowledged that poor quality rental housing is a serious issue locally.

“I think there is perhaps a representation that we don’t think this is an issue. I think this is an issue, I thought this was an issue long before that group was formed,” Morgan said.

Coole said the association wants to form a committee that includes its members, municipal officials and landlords to discuss how the minimum standards bylaw can be better enforced with the existing resources.

“The problem isn’t with the bylaw, it’s that it’s not being enforced,” Coole said. “The issue is not a lot of people know about the minimum standards bylaw and the CBRM isn’t making any steps to let people know what their rights are.”

Morgan said he’s seen no evidence to indicate CBRM staff isn’t acting when complaints are received, and if there are suggestions as to how the system can be improved, they are open to them. He added they try to make residents aware of the requirements under its bylaws.

There is a demand in the region for more publicly funded housing, Morgan said, which is a provincial program . He also said funding for the housing services division was reduced in the recent budget. He noted that once a complaint is investigated and repairs are required, the tenant must move out, making the lack of alternate public housing an even bigger problem.

“There’s a role for municipal government, and we have played that role and will continue to do so,” Morgan said.

Coole said the association will collect complaints from tenants at http://acorncanada.org/cape-breton.

People wanting to take part in Wednesday’s rally are asked to gather outside the CBRM Civic Centre at noon.

Original article available at: http://www.capebretonpost.com/News/Local/2012-04-09/article-2950739/%26lsquoThis-isn%26rsquot-just-a-problem-of-tenants%26rsquo/1