Port Moody is going to reboot the city’s affordable housing task force to explore whether the city can mandate minimum standards of maintenance in rental buildings and enact an anti-renoviction bylaw.
At Tuesday’s meeting, Coun. Amy Lubik proposed council ask city staff to develop the maintenance standards by emulating bylaws developed in New Westminster and Victoria, and also look to New West and Port Coquitlam for guidance on an anti-renoviction bylaw.
But the rest of council decided on a different route.
Following a complaint from one tenant who approached her, she said, Lubik wrote a report noting tenants can be exposed to pests, mould, drafts and other health issues because units aren’t maintained. She said they often don’t complain because the lack of choice and affordability has “a silencing effect.”
Lubik suggested enforcement would likely require adding only a half-time employee.
But other councillors balked at burdening staff with developing regulations that already may be in place either provincially or in building codes.
Coun. Diana Dilworth said although Lubik’s proposal is “very solid on its good intentions” it may be more appropriate for tenants to go to the province’s Residential Tenancy Branch with their concerns.
“Quite frankly, the jurisdiction is in the bailiwick of the provincial government,” Dilworth said, asking, "Are we developing another level of government here?”
Dilworth said it would be difficult to balance the rights of tenants and property owners. She also pointed out Port Moody’s percentage of rental stock is much lower than those in New West or Victoria.
“It’s just very different,” said Dilworth. “It’s a lot more complex and it’s not going to be as simple as adopting another city’s [bylaws].”
Fire Chief Ron Coulson pointed out to council his department does annual fire and safety inspections of all rental buildings in Port Moody.
Coun. Meghan Lahti said she appreciated Lubik’s intent but couldn’t support asking staff to spend “an exorbitant amount of time” just because Lubik received one complaint from a renter.
“I just don’t believe this is a priority for this city right now. It is not pressing, and I don’t believe we should be sending staff out on developing a bylaw. I think there are plenty of places in the province that we can refer to,” said Lahti.
Lahti noted while the city’s affordable housing task force has not been disbanded, it hasn’t met since the municipal election last October. She proposed council appoint three new council members to the task force and have it meet to discuss both issues raised by Lubik separately, a motion supported by the rest of council.