Editors note: A correction to this story was published in the Feb. 6, 2002 issue of The Eyeopener. You can read that here.
By Erika Tustin
Three Ryerson architecture students may become the latest casualties in a war to clean up Toronto’s rooming houses.
Zachary Kong and her two housemates’ apartment at 299 George St. is operating under a temporary rooming house license after it was suspended for not meeting a property management by-law last December.
If the owners of the George Street Apartments don’t renew their license this week, Kong will be given 30 days and three months rent to find a new home.
Police said they have received 65 calls from the George Street area in the last year, and 39 of those were in direct relation to 299 George Street.
“299 George is a drain on police resources,” says Staff Sergeant Tom Kelly of 51 division. “There are 31 rooming houses in the area and only six others generate more police calls.”
Charlotte Grad purchased the rooming house and its four surrounding properties in September 2000 after city officials shut down the property twice for illegal activity and appalling living conditions a year earlier.
Grad says she had no idea what she was getting into when she purchased the properties but believes the community is acting unfairly.
“I was really anxious to purchase the property downtown and I didn’t look into the backgrounds as much as I should,” she says.
In hopes of saving the properties, Grad has discussed the possibilities of converting all five of the buildings to Ryerson student residences.
Liza Nassim, Ryerson’s manager of student housing, met with Grad in April 1999. Nassim says owners are usually unaware of the costs of a student residence.
“Typically they find they can’t make it work financially,” she says. “Usually older buildings need to be fixed up and this could mean huge costs for the landowners.”