Parts of Waterloo rental housing bylaw deemed 'discriminatory'

The Ontario Human Rights Commission is calling parts of the City of Waterloo's rental housing bylaw discriminatory.

The Ontario Human Rights Commission is calling parts of the City of Waterloo's rental housing bylaw discriminatory.

The commission takes issue with the language that regulates how much floor space is required per-person. The bylaw stipulates there must be at  least seven square metres of bedroom space per person. The OHRC says this is much more stringent than what is required in the Ontario building code.

"This makes it impossible for example for two children to share a room, or a couple to share a room that they would be able to share but for that requirement," said Barbara Hall, the OHRC's chief commissioner, on Monday.

The OHRC also disagrees with the rental housing bylaws restrictions detailing how far apart lodging homes must be from each other. While minimum spacing distances are not specified in the licencing bylaw, it does change the definition of what constitutes a lodging home. Homes that were previously not considered lodging houses now are.

"That limits the capacity of landlords to rent rooms in certain sized houses and reduces the amount of housing," Hall said.

"With respect to the per-person floor area requirement, it's our intention to initiate an application to the Human Rights Tribunal," she said, adding the application to the tribunal will be filed in the coming weeks.

"We had lots of agreements with Waterloo, and we're very pleased with many of the things they did, but we end up with a couple of disagreements which we consider to be serious and discriminatory."

City of Waterloo disagrees with commission

Jim Barry, Director of bylaw enforcement said the requirement to have seven square metres of bedroom space per person is in place to avoid overcrowding.

"We felt we built the bylaw in making it not discriminatory, so we would disagree with them," he said.

"We're going to take a look at this and continue to work with the human rights commission, and if we can resolve it before going to the tribunal, we'll certainly do that."