Homeowners near U of M back councillor's call for rooming house crackdown

Some Winnipeggers living near the University of Manitoba agree with their city councillor's call for a crackdown on houses being converted into rooming houses for students.

Coun. Janice Lukes says she's concerned some houses are a fire hazard

Some Winnipeggers living near the University of Manitoba agree with their city councillor's call for a crackdown on houses being converted into rooming houses for students.

St. Norbert Coun. Janice Lukes told CBC News this week that a number of houses that were zoned as family homes have been converted into what could only be recognized as rooming houses.

Both Lukes and area residents are worried that someone could be hurt or killed if a fire strikes a home that's crammed with students.

David Burton, who lives in the Fort Richmond neighbourhood, says it's easy to tell what his next-door neighbour is doing.

"He's running a rooming house, as far as I can tell," Burton said.

"The first clue is a total lack of maintenance and the second clue is hoards of students going in and out."

Burton said the house in question used to be a fraternity house with a lot of partying, but things improved after the city shut it down.

The students who live there now are quiet, but Burton said he's concerned about how many students are being stuffed into a house that was zoned as a single-family dwelling.

Enforce the bylaw, resident says

Burton said he isn't sure how many students live in the house next door, but he believes the city should at least be checking and ramping up bylaw enforcement to ensure conditions are safe.

"I think they should try to enforce the bylaw," he said.

"I gather that the enforcement officers, there's not that many of them, and I suppose they have a fixed budget. How many of these places they can get to in a reasonable time frame, I don't know."

Another Fort Richmond resident, Arthur Prystenski, said many of the students renting in his neighbourhood are excellent neighbours.

But while he said not all the students are being crammed into houses by the dozen, he believes there are issues.

"It's sort of non-monitored at this time and not regulated, so there are a few situations that are causing some problems in the neighbourhood," he said.

Councillors will get to review a report on student housing at the city's property and planning meeting on Friday.

A University of Manitoba spokesperson told CBC News that the 1,500 residence spaces on campus aren't enough.

There are plans to build more on-campus housing, but it's not yet known how many spaces will be created or when they'll be ready.

The spokesperson said there have been issues with off-campus housing, and the university is working with Lukes on solutions.

Comments

To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.