Torontonians will go to the polls to select the city’s new mayor on October 27. In this highly competitive municipal election, the issue of student expenses has been desperately absent from the headlines and hardly discussed by the mayoral candidates.
Toronto has a massive growth of student population and they are generally the major stakeholders in this election. Students and young people will mostly show up to the polls and vote for the candidate that they believe is the best to solve the issues that matter to them. Among the electoral concerns for students are the needs to improve the city’s transit, increasing employment opportunities and of course, developing affordable housing for students.
Student expenses may vary depending on the lifestyle and level of enrollment. However, from all the expenses, student housing is becoming the major issue, as student cannot control the price range and most of the student housing taken control by landlords. Most of the landlords charge their tenants based on the land taxes.
“At first, I charge my tenants based on my land taxes, but land taxes keep raising over the years and I couldn’t raise the price of rent as most of my tenants are students and I know they already pay enough money for their school,” said Joanne Sparrow, a homestay owner. “I’ve been a homestay owner for more than eight years now and I’m hoping that whichever of the major candidates that winning will create plans in order to improve these issues.”
Homestay is form of tourism or study abroad that allows visitor to rent a room from a local family.
Affordable housing for students should be among the first priorities for the elected mayor. Every year, Toronto’s students struggle to find a place to live near campus.
“I used to travel for two hours long from my home-stay to college because I couldn’t really find a place to stay near campus and that’s really bothered as I have some morning classes,” said Gabrielle Locanawan, a Humber student. “I couldn’t find the place simply because either there’s no room or the price is to high for me to pay.”
Where do the candidates stand regarding this issue? Mayoral candidate, John Tory, plans to allow developers to build affordable housing at below-market rates on unused Toronto Community Housing Corp. (TCHC) land or on city-owned parking lots. While other candidate, Doug Ford, has yet to articulate a viewpoint on the development of affordable housing. In addition, Olivia Chow expressed an interest in fast-tracking development on existing tower sites, as well as introducing a new initiative to bring senior’s housing administration under the control of a new stakeholder government corporation rather than TCHC. She proposed an appealing “pay us later” plan to defer development charges on affordable housing for at least a decade to provoke construction.
“I feel that the cost of living in the city and mostly near campus is becoming illogical for student,” said a Humber student, Jeane Olivia. “I really hope that the next mayor will have plan to solve the issues that students has and especially the student housing.”
Toronto needs a mayor who will not only address the city’s current housing crisis, but also who will work to create long-term development plans to make sure that it remains financially affordable for students.