News In Brief

Gerretsen nominated as Lord of the Slums

Liberal MPP for Kingston and the Islands John Gerretsen has been named one of three candidates for the Lord of the Slums award by Toronto’s Parkdale Tenants Association.

In his official cabinet position as Ontario municipal affairs and housing minister, the Association says, he is responsible—along with Toronto Mayor David Miller and Toronto Community Housing Corp. President Derek Ballantyne—for the “slumification” and “ghettoization” of Toronto.

In a recent interview with a Journal reporter at Queen’s Park, Gerretsen, who served as Kingston mayor from 1980 to 1998, said he believes Kingston has “a pretty strong property standards bylaw.” However, he said he recognizes that “some of the housing is a lot better than other housing.”

“You have your good landlords and your bad landlords,” Gerretsen said. “The bad landlords should be booted out of the system. They should either be forced to improve their housing, or have somebody else do it and then just [give them the bill].
“If the city really wanted to do something about it, they would at least give it a damn good push, because they’ve done so before.”

Gerretsen said students concerned with their housing could either call his constituency office or, since his office isn’t directly involved in city property standards, their city councillor.

“My office would be happy to help in that,” he said. “There’s absolutely no reason why students in the Kingston area should live in substandard housing.”

He added as a first step, students should call their landlord.

“[Landlords] have the primary obligation to do something about a house that isn’t properly maintained,” he said.

The Association, which is made of 200 members, will announce the Lord of the Slums Feb. 2. The award winner will be deemed the most responsible for “the deplorable rental conditions plaguing hundreds of thousands of Torontonians.”

The AMS’s Golden Cockroach award winner, inspired by a similar initiative of the Parkdale Tenants Association, will be announced in January.

—By Tamsyn Burgmann with files from the Toronto Star

Club safety review complete

An internal review by the University has found there was nothing the administration could have done to prevent an on-campus climbing accident that led to a student’s death this past spring.

Nicholas Beaulieu, a second-year life sciences student, fell while attempting to climb to the top of Dupuis Hall without any ropes or other safety equipment last April. According to the review, students on the scene immediately called Campus Security, who arrived within 90 seconds. Beaulieu was rushed to hospital, where he later died.

As a result of the accident, Principal Karen Hitchcock called for a review of both the incident and the safety policies of non-AMS athletic clubs.

“We wanted to make sure—which became clear early on–—that [Beaulieu] wasn’t doing this as part of a sponsored club activity, so that was the initial concern,” said Donna Janiec, director of Risk Management and Audit Services at Queen’s, who led the review.

She said since prompt emergency support was provided, and the climb was not sanctioned by the climbing club—nor did it occur on one of the two buildings the club has permission to climb—the review was extended to look at all recreational sports clubs. These clubs, whose policies are set by the Campus Recreation Committee, a committee of the University Council on Athletics.

Janiec proposed several recommendations in the report.

The recommendations focus on improving the documentation of recreational sports club safety policies and procedures, clearly defining responsibility for safety within the club and ensuring the conveyance of this information to club membership.

“Broadly, they’re about strengthening the safety policies and procedures of the athletic recreational sports clubs,” Janiec said. “There were very good policies and procedures in place for those clubs already, and a lot of well-documented information, but in looking at that information there were just some things that I felt needed to be tweaked, especially for ... the higher-risk clubs.”

The report says of the 31 recreational sports clubs, those labelled “higher risk” are the Climbing, Equestrian, Outdoors, Rowing, Sailing, Scuba, Ski and Snowboarding, Skydiving and Wild Water clubs.

Janiec said she will conduct a followup review this spring to ensure the recommendations have been implemented.

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