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Public opinion not really wanted

I attended the “community engagement meetings” about the proposed rental housing licensing program. At the first meeting, attendees were asked how many people were in favour and against a proposed licensing program.

They also asked for feedback concerning why people were in favour or opposed to the proposed program. It was strongly encouraged that everyone return for the second meeting, which was alleged to involve more detailed feedback.

The second meeting involved filling out a form which asked what type of licensing program the attendees preferred. The meeting became disorderly when attendees who did not favor the program expressed concerns that checking boxes indicating licence program choices could be construed as indications that the attendees favoured the development of a licensing program.

A show of hands revealed that around 90 per cent of about 100 attendees were opposed to a licensing program. The coordinators of the meeting indicated that they were not requested to relay our opinion of whether we wanted a licensing program – they were specifically directed to collect information concerning what type of program we preferred.

Attendees asked why the program was being proposed, and a list of items was provided. None seemed relevant. For example, it was stated that high rates of student housing results in neighborhood destabilization and noise issues. It was pointed out that problems with students in recent years have reportedly been decreasing.

Coun. Leanne Piper has said that she thinks that there are some deplorable rental units. I pointed out to a city staff member that with the new highrise student housing complex approved for the corner of Gordon Street and Stone Road, there should be an excess of student housing available in a few years.  An excess of housing should result in more competition, with the deplorable units being left unchosen by tenants.

A licensing program is not required to address this.

My personal concern about the licensing program stems from my experience with the Guelph Transit changes implemented a couple years ago. I went to a feedback-information session before it was implemented. It was clear that they were not interested in comments which were not supportive of their plans.

Mayor Karen Farbridge gives inspiring speeches, but she does not seem to be interested in the opinions of the citizens of Guelph.  I hope Farbridge and Piper listen to the feedback from the ‘community engagement meetings.’ Otherwise, they do not deserve to be re-elected.

Brian Blackadar

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