July 13, 2012
Toronto city council has adopted a motion that could help apartment dwellers who are uncomfortably hot in the spring because of a current bylaw that requires landlords to keep the heat on during this time.
Councillor Josh Matlow says he is not trying to require landlords to install air conditioners.
The motion, introduced by councillor Josh Matlow, asks staff to consider an earlier date by which landlords can stop heating rental units in the spring, and to consider a maximum temperature so homes won’t overheat.
Mr. Matlow, ward 22 councillor for the St. Paul’s neighbourhood, said the motion came about after at least a dozen tenants complained to him about the heat still being on in their homes during heat waves. Their landlords had advised them their hands were tied because of the Municipal Code chapter 497 which states that the heat must be on from Sept. 15 to June 1 to maintain a minimum temperature of 21 C.
“What I think is just ridiculous is to demand that a landlord keeps the heat on when it’s boiling outside when we have a heat wave,” said Mr. Matlow.
“The 21 number is arbitrary. There needs to be some recognition for the weather outside.”
Contrary to published reports, Mr. Matlow insisted he is not trying to require landlords to install air conditioners. He wouldn’t say what maximum temperature he hopes will be enforced, but suggests it can be achieved in a number of ways like just turning the heat off and opening up windows.
“My motion doesn’t suggest ACs, it asks for a review,” he tweeted.
He advocates indoor temperature being regulated by the temperature outside rather than by date.
When the councillor reached out to other community members in his ward, he found that overheated homes is a general concern as many complained of “enormous discomfort” and voiced concerns over health issues.
Mr. Matlow said indoor heat can be hazardous to the many seniors in his ward who have mobility issues.
City staff said May has seen temperatures over 28 C in 16 of the past 20 years. In the last two years, five days in May have been hotter than 30 C.
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