City be­gins crackdown on fra­ter­nity houses

An­nex lo­cal says unchecked fra­ter­ni­ties and soror­i­ties make for bad neigh­bours

Annex Post - - NEWS - By Eric Sto­ber

Af­ter decades of free rein for fra­ter­nity and soror­ity op­er­a­tions, due to a mys­te­ri­ous loop­hole that has ex­empted them from the city’s multi-ten­ant hous­ing by­laws, ground is fi­nally be­ing made on the mat­ter.

On May 23, Toronto City Coun­cil voted to crack down on fra­ter­nity and soror­ity houses and en­sure they are held to the same stan­dard other room­ing houses an­swer to across the city. Mov­ing for­ward, city staff will be­gin to de­velop a li­cens­ing frame­work through public con­sul­ta­tions and will re­port back in 2019.

The An­nex has been the back­drop of a long-stand­ing feud be­tween lo­cal res­i­dents and the 19 fra­ter­ni­ties and soror­i­ties in the area.

Lawyer David Sterns has been a res­i­dent of the area for ap­prox­i­mately 20 years and cur­rently lives a few doors away from what he calls a “bad” fra­ter­nity.

“The bad [fra­ter­ni­ties] are a prob­lem for all the rea­sons you can imag­ine. There is garbage, noise, dis­rup­tive be­hav­ior and a lack of re­gard for neigh­bours,” he said.

Sterns re­calls nights of par­ty­ing as if “they’re in the club district,” and when he has ap­proached the rev­ellers to ask for quiet, he said he has re­ceived a hos­tile re­sponse. Even calling the po­lice has not solved the prob­lem, as at times the par­ty­ing has been too out of hand for even them to in­ter­vene, say­ing they can’t babysit peo­ple, ac­cord­ing to Sterns.

The frats’ par­ty­ing has even turned crim­i­nal, with 78 po­lice in­ci­dents in the last five years at or near 14 of the 19 fra­ter­ni­ties. Twelve of these in­ci­dents were sex­ual as­saults ac­cord­ing to Joe Cressy, the city coun­cil­lor for Ward 14, where all of the fra­ter­ni­ties and soror­i­ties are lo­cated.

In to­tal since 2013, there have been 166 com­plaints filed against the fra­ter­ni­ties, the ma­jor­ity of which are linked to waste and noise, ac­cord­ing to City of Toronto data.

“This has noth­ing to do with shut­ting down fra­ter­ni­ties or soror­i­ties, but rather it’s to have, like ev­ery other multi-ten­ant hous­ing in the city, an up-to-date li­cens­ing frame­work to en­sure they are safe spa­ces,” said Cressy.

The li­cens­ing would re­quire the houses to have a waste man­age­ment plan and a fire safety plan that would be sub­ject to an­nual in­spec­tion.

“It is the ba­sic min­i­mum to ex­pect,” Sterns said. “If they can abide by the min­i­mal com­mu­nity stan­dard, then we’re happy to have them as neigh­bours.”

There is garbage, noise, dis­rup­tive be­hav­iour and a lack of re­gard for neigh­bours.”

The fra­ter­nity house on the cor­ner of St. Ge­orge Street and Lowther Av­enue

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