The City of Kitchener has staked some of its future growth on the education sector, with major expansions in post-secondary education in the city.
One of the spinoff issues of that growth is where to house all the students it brings to the community.
Those pressures will only continue to grow as the LRT and better transit options are developed, allowing students to live along the central corridor and attend classes in both Kitchener and Waterloo.
At that point housing availability and cost will be major factors. It will also mean more opportunities for those landlords looking at rental properties as a business opportunity.
Kitchener has already experienced some growing pains in terms of the expansion in student accommodation. Traditional neighbourhoods are finding the expansion comes with friction between single-family homes and ones occupied up to nine students.
Never mind the safety issues and property maintenance concerns that also come when more of this type of student housing is clustered in one area.
The City of Waterloo has been dealing with this problem for decades, but it has been exacerbated in the last decade with the double cohort of students coming through the doors, and the continuing expansion of student spaces.
Waterloo brought in a controversial rental housing bylaw, recognizing that the old lodging house system was broken and rife with abuse.
The reality is that if Kitchener wants to prevent the housing speculation and absentee landlord problem that Waterloo has dealt with, the city needs a plan with some teeth.
And it wouldn’t hurt to model the program after Waterloo’s new bylaw. After all, this whole process is about being better neighbours.