London Votes: What mayoral candidates are saying on student housing

Creating safer, more affordable student housing can mean increasing police presences in areas like Thurman Circle.

As per the City of London's website, students are allowed to vote in both their home municipality and the municipality where they are attending school, so long as they are over 18 years of age and Canadian citizens. If there is one incentive for non-London students to take part in this year's municipal election, it's to select a candidate who will prioritize safe, affordable living conditions while they study. Here's what a number of mayoral candidates had to tell the Interrobang about their thoughts on the issue.

Jordan Minter:

“Step up foot patrol. That's paramount.”

Minter said he would work to increase security and patrols around London campuses, and invest in building more on-campus student housing with controlled entries.

Paul Cheng:

“Accommodation is crucial. Clean, safe accommodation. I understand that, so I would encourage more. But there has to be co-operation between private industry, city zoning, and the Fanshawe governing body.”

Cheng said that development fees are an ongoing issue in London that he would tackle to bring down, thereby reducing the overall cost of new housing projects and rent.

Dan Lenart:

“The London community has a problem with housing in general and I can see how that applies to students.”

Lenart pointed out that both students and people with low incomes are vulnerable to paying lower rates for substandard housing. He would make more bylaws to prevent landlords from taking advantage of this demographic, and work with developers to build quality properties for lower development fees in higher market areas of the city to create more mixed neighbourhoods.

Ed Holder:

“[Safety] ties into a number of issues around poverty, homelessness, drug addiction, mental health. And those are serious issues in the city and on the campus everywhere. One of the things that I think we have to do is put a real focus on the safety of citizens by dealing with those that are less able. My Cape Breton mom used to say that a community is measured by how well we teak care of people who are less able to take care of themselves.”

Holder would tackle the issue of public safety by encouraging the use of safe injection sites and community supports for those dealing with drug addiction and mental illness, as London is in the midst of Canada's third worst opioid crisis. He would also increase patrols around campuses.

Paul Paolatto:

“What's happening is we have a homelessness problem, and we have drug addiction problems and we have mental health problems which are compromising the public safety of everybody in the community. And I see it as two opportunities.”

Paolatto's two-fold plan is to expand police resources and improve awareness among students of rules surrounding respect and responsibility as they party in the London community. He would also improve housing by incentivizing builders to create more affordable housing options for all Londoners, including students.

Sean O'Connell:

“The City of London is a centre for learning with both a college and university. Yet, the City of London does not have a student accommodation policy. I would like to draft a policy to address this.”

O'Connell said his policy would build more student-only housing with flexible leases within more convenient areas for transportation and amenities. These buildings would have key card entry and security cameras. He also said the city can improve street lighting and enhanced co-ordination with police to patrol student areas with greater frequency.

Other mayoral candidates were unavailable for comment by thetime this article went to print.