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Councillor: Front-yard parking visual symptom of ‘slumlords’

Landry-Altmann and Sizer hosting a community meeting at Cedar Park Playground on Thursday to address public concerns about unsightly properties
Tom Davis Square 1 (2018)
Tom Davies Square.

With unsightly properties a recurring concern in New Sudbury, two city council members have banded together to host a community meeting at Cedar Park on Thursday at 6:30 p.m.

Ward 12 Coun. Joscelyne Landry-Altmann raised the issue during last week’s planning committee meeting, which centered primarily on people parking vehicles on front lawns. 

She is hosting Thursday’s community meeting alongside Ward 8 Coun. Al Sizer, whose constituents in his neighbouring New Sudbury ward have reported similar concerns.

In conversation with Sudbury.com this week, Landry-Altmann clarified that improper parking is a visual symptom of the underlying issue brought about mainly by “slumlords” in the area.

“We’ve seen an influx of investors,” she said. “They are buying up properties – of course it’s a bidding war … and what’s happening is the cost is being shared by too many tenants.”

The city restricts rental units to one tenant, who can in turn rent out space within their unit to as many as two additional tenants. The same can apply to a secondary dwelling unit.

In some cases, there are far too many tenants in one unit, with Landry-Altmann reporting one case in which a “little R1 house” was being rented out to 13 people.

“They’re just stacking the people in there,” she said. “In the past we’ve had safety issues where people are making bedrooms in furnace rooms – that’s unsafe.”

With so many people taking residence in a single unit, she said there’s a strain on parking accommodations, which in some cases has led to people parking on lawns. 

Longstanding residents “feel disrespected, not only for the efforts they put into their property but also the look of the neighbourhood itself,” Landry-Altmann said. 

“The people that live there have lived there for a very long time, and the reason investors are buying there is because of that … and they’re benefitting from the permanent residents living there and keeping their homes in good condition.”

A similar meeting to the one being held on Thursday was also hosted at Cedar Park, at 47 Normandy Cres., in 2018. Landry-Altmann said the same format will be echoed this week. It will feature representatives from city bylaw, fire, planning and building services.

“This isn’t a new topic, it’s just manifesting itself in different ways,” she said, adding that the meeting will, in addition to allowing residents to share their grievances, allow staff the opportunity to clarify what the rules are and what is being done.

Last week, city Corporate Security and Bylaw Services manager Stefany Mussen clarified the numerous steps taken when city bylaws are violated.

It’s an education-first approach wherein notices are issued, which, if ignored, can be followed by a summons alongside the potential imposition of fines and conditions.

“We do know that just by someone receiving fines sometimes, or perhaps having to attend a court date may not always completely solve the issue.”

With bylaw enforcement an important piece of the equation, Landry-Atlmann led the charge during 2022 budget deliberations for the city to reinstate part-time bylaw enforcement hours.

The 2021 budget decision to remove 6,057 part-time hours from the city’s bylaw enforcement division at a savings of $281,000 was “an error,” Landry-Altmann said this week. 

“I’ll stand by that – it shouldn’t have happened, it did and it was an error and we brought it back.”

Thursday night’s meeting is open to anyone interested in weighing in or learning more about these issues.

Tyler Clarke covers city hall and political affairs for Sudbury.com.