Lukes Wants Renter’s Guide in Plain English – and Hindi and Chinese

Janice Lukes wants to create a renter’s guide that will put bylaws relating to rental properties into plain English – as well as Hindi and Chinese – so everyone from born and bred Canadians to international students can understand them better.


It’s a big challenge and the South Winnipeg-St. Norbert councillor said a two-page draft of the guide prepared by city staff is “a good start,” but she hopes a community update meeting on Sept. 30 will start a dialogue that will help complete the document.  “What this (guide) is, is a simplification of the bylaws,” Lukes said.  “I don’t know if you’ve ever tried to read a bylaw, but oh my goodness. Very complex, very lawyer talk.”


Lukes, whose ward includes the residential areas surrounding the University of Manitoba, has become an outspoken opponent of illegal student rooming houses. Most are in violation of various city-zoning bylaws, one of the most common being multiple renters living in a home zoned for a single family.


Lukes said she’s received hundreds of calls from people complaining about everything from lawns not being cut and weeds growing so tall they peek over fences to cars parked all over front lawns.  She said it’s clear people who live near illegal rooming houses are frustrated, but she said there’s also a concern for the safety of the students inside, many of whom are international students too scared to question a system they don’t really understand.  “These students, the more I’ve discovered, it’s horrible, despicable, just tragic what is happening to these students,” Lukes said. Some of the homes are owned by foreign investors, Lukes said, and while some might not know what the bylaws are, it’s also clear some just don’t care.


Lukes hopes to educate all three parties – students, nearby residents and landlords – about what the bylaws are and what people can do if they think bylaws are being broken.


Bylaws are complaint-based, so, in order for the city to send a bylaw officer out, someone has to complain, Lukes said. Calling 311 with your complaint is the starting point.


The September 30 community update will be held at the Pinnacle Club at Investors Group Field from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m.




Winnipeg Metro, Donna Maxwell, September 7, 2015


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