For those unaware, a few of our city councillors in New Westminster are forwarding a motion at the end of this month to ask city staff to investigate a cooling by-law that would make cooling rental apartments the responsibility of your landlord. This law would work very much the same way as the by-laws around heating: just as they're required to heat your apartment in the winter, they'd be required to cool it in the summer.
The proposal is to investigate making the maximum required temperature throughout the year 26 degrees. It also keeps it open to landlords what means they can use to cool the apartment. For suites that already stay cool throughout the year, such as some basement suites, there's no requirement to change anything.
The motion also asks city staff to investigate how to prevent this by-law from being used as an tool to evict tenants for required renovations or a way to transfer costs onto tenants through extra rent increases.
City Council rarely hears from renters, so we want to make sure your voices are heard. To do that, we're asking all our members to fill out a short, 5-minute poll you can begin by clicking the link below.
We'd like to have as diverse a range of renters in New West represented as possible, so please pass it around in your communities. If someone is less computer literate, you are able to assist them by filling out the poll again on their behalf.
We're also looking for people who are interested in speaking at city hall on the matter (with our support). There is an option in the poll to let us know you're interested.
The full text of the motion being advanced is included below:
WHEREAS the majority of the 28 deaths in New Westminster during the 2021 heat dome extreme weather event occurred in rental multi-unit residential buildings in the Brow of the Hill neighbourhood; and
WHEREAS the City of New Westminster’s BUSINESS REGULATIONS AND LICENSING (RENTAL UNITS) BYLAW NO. 6926, 2004 requires that heating equipment in all rental units be capable of maintaining every room at a temperature of 22 C (72 F) measured at a point 1.5 meters (5 feet) from the floor and in the centre of the room, but does not list requirements for cooling equipment or measures; and
WHEREAS extreme weather events are more frequent and increasing vulnerabilities in the built environment, particularly for lower-income households;
BE IT RESOLVED that City Council direct staff to explore the tools available for the City to adopt a bylaw that requires rental units to have cooling equipment, or passive means, that prevents at least one room of the unit from exceeding the standard recommendation of 26 C (79 F);
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the City write a letter to the Minister of Housing to request clarification and confirmation that these upgrades would not trigger legal renovictions or the Above Guideline Rent Increase permissible by the Province.