East End Housing Standards Lower Than the Rest of Cornwall Ontario by E.V. Hutcheon Jan 11, 2014


ev 4Cornwall Ontario  –   Life, for many who live in Cornwall, can be tricky at times, but with winters like this one, everything gets harder. An unfortunate truth about our town is that where you live can be a large factor in this struggle. If you think about the condition of the average apartment when you compare the East and West end it seems as though the moment you enter into the lower East end of town, the condition of the apartments drops dramatically while the average price of the rent doesn’t seem to be representative of this dramatic change.

It almost seem as though these are two separate retail markets but they shouldn’t be judged by such a poor standard, especially under weather conditions like ours which can often lead to actual health and safety concerns for the respective East end tenants.

Through personal research, I have noticed a definite trend in the monthly rent prices and quality offered in the East and West ends of town. In the West end, on average the apartments available for rent tend to fluctuate from around $700 for no utilities or possibly basic coverage to around $900 for all utilities covered. Regardless of these prices, the conditions of these apartments are clearly on par with what you would expect from a renter’s point of view, clean water with good pressure, good insulation and construction, and to top it all off most of the apartments are readily serviced either by the landlord or by contractors employed by the landlord.

When eyes turn to the East end of town, the trend seems to have lowered respectively but the quality drops dramatically when compared to the standards set by the West end. The average price for a no utility apartment tends to be around $600 while an apartment with everything covered ranges from high $700 to low $800. These numbers show a slight decrease in the monthly rent price but when you take quality of these homes into consideration, the difference is shocking. The average apartment, even some on the higher price end, will often have inconsistent water pressure with rare cases having virtually none at all, clearly ineffective insulation if there even is any, as well as just generally poor construction. Often this includes a lack of insulation   leading to burst pipes as well as often a lack of any form of weather seals on the doors and window seams. This, coupled with the typical baseboard heaters, can often lead to sub-zero temperatures inside even when the heaters are set unnecessarily high.

Given this clear lack of standards concerning health and safety of tenants, as well as the disproportionately set prices, it makes life in the East end of Cornwall even harder. It seems as though something should be done to either alleviate the added financial stress or enforce a higher standard of living conditions to ensure that tenants will always be able to properly care for themselves regardless of their financial conditions.

Unfortunately, nothing can be done to help tenants on a larger scale, but it is possible for individuals to take action by bringing these issues up with either their landlord or, if the landlord refuses to do anything about it, they can bring their case to the Landlord and Tenant Board. The LTB’s mandate is to provide information about the Residential Tenancies Act (RTA) and to help resolve disputes between most residential landlords and tenants in Ontario. One of the easiest ways to learn more about them is to simply look at their website if you have any questions or concerns of your own.


I contacted paralegal, James Moak, and he briefly gave his views on this matter.

“Landlords must maintain their property to a minimum standard as set by property standards. If they do not, the tenants have legal recourse to address this through the Landlord Tenants Board. What I find most often is that the expectations of the tenants are unrealistic, not to say that some complaints are not justified.”

Based on this new information, it seems safe to say that, although not all of the cases that would come out of the East end would pass if everybody started trying this approach, it is entirely possible for a large number of these cases to be taken seriously and maybe even completely resolved. This is good news to a large number of tenants in our area that may be struggling to stay warm in their homes or many who spend far more than they should on their heating and hydro bills because their home’s construction was so sub par that they are losing all the heat they are paying for.

As long as the issues you are experiencing are directly affecting your quality of life in a largely negative way, there is hope.

E.V. Hutcheon is a 2nd year St. Lawrence College Journalism Student.  She has professionally edited a Polish history book and is hoping to see her dream and passion of writing into a career. Previously living Toronto, E.V. is now a proud Cornwall citizen. On her off time you can usually find her at home writing her latest book, or walking along the St Lawrence River. 

Milena Cardinal


  1. This kind of a dilapidated dump in the picture should be torn down. These are the places where people crash and sometimes burn the place. This is a shame to keep these dumps up and it does bring down the value of other homes in the area. It is an area of drugs and prostitution and other crimes. We don’t expect people to live in luxury that they cannot afford but not to live in a shack that is falling apart and that is dangerous to ones health as well as to the well being of the community.

  2. Standards are the same throughout Cornwall. What does vary is quality and care. So just who is to blame in a less quality area where care taken is definitely at the minimum level allowable by law, the tenants or the landlords ? Really the answer is not that important. Compliance of property standards and proper enforcement of the minimum standards is however. A system in place that immediately rewards a tenant and encourages a landlord to raise the bar on quality and care issues would be a more sustainable approach, in my view. This program would be simple to design, easy to implement and because of a very symbiotic relationship dependance almost self administering if you think about it.

    Speak to your councilor.

  3. On the other hand, Jules, if we were to tear down all the ugly and substandard housing in Canada, we’d have about ten million people freezing on the streets. Are you saying that poor families should have to live outdoors?

  4. Author

    Also, if we force landlords to upgrade rents will go up. There are lines and choices. Things can improve, but there’s always a bottom line.

  5. I’ve been a renter, and I’ve been (and am) a landlord. Being a landlord is better.

  6. Furtz absolutely not would I want to see anyone be homeless and on the streets and we see enough of that right here in Ottawa. I think that landlords should be responsible for the upkeep or sell it to those who can handle that. I do know that when things are brought up to standards that the rent goes higher and those who are poor cannot afford the high prices. I truly think that more low income housing should be built and can treat people on low incomes with dignity and respect. Landlords have a terrible time with some tenants. We used to own for eight and a half years in Cornwall and we wanted to come back to Ottawa for our children and we have most of our friends here and we longed to come back. We sold the house and never looked back. We like being a tenant with no responsibilities as long as we keep the place clean and when things need repair we inform the super. Landlords have the responsibility of keeping their properties up to standards and not let their properties go to waste like that. Tenants as well have responsibilities of taking care of the house or unit that they are living in and it costs big money for landlords to keep up and the tenants can make a place look good or look bad. Having a good tenant is worth gold and many landlords do not appreciate that at all and only want to keep jacking up the rents at the tenant’s expense. Many tenants do not realize what ownership entails unless they get into that themselves. I sure won’t miss the humoungous payments at all. The only things that I miss is the space, having my own yard to garden and hang up clothes on the line and to BBQ and things like that but otherwise I am very content.

  7. ADMIN I agree with your comments, simply increasing standards would likely only drive up costs to individuals who can least afford it. However a system based on participation and pride could benefit the renter, the landlord and ultimately the community at large. Being poor is not a crime or an untreatable disease, it does not determine whether an individual can clean or whether an they are lazy. Pride, self respect, self worth these can be motivators that can place us all on common ground.

    Leadership within this community could make a substantial difference in the lives of its residents and the way that other communities perceive us. Perhaps a little inspiration and direction could make a positive difference.

  8. Author

    David as easy as it is to point to leadership I think one of the biggest problems are the public themselves in many cases. Yes, they may have politically been engineered to where we are today; but people simply do not know how to work the political system or work together to achieve a result.

    IE look at our Chem Tank situation. You need to do more than complain at Timmies. That’s a start, but you need to show up at council; email them and do whatever it takes to get your voice heard. It’s not impossible, but people saying they’re too busy is just a lazy complaint. If an issue is important we all have to find the time to be the change.

  9. Your words Admin are true enough but apathy needs a kick in the pants for change to occur. Inspired leadership with vision and purpose is likely the only catalyst that will invigorate

  10. This girl needs to do more research and I will criticize only out of love for my fellow human’s evolution.

    E.V. has looked at an issue without enough insight to write about it. There is no issue of discrimination with the setting of rents in the East end. Rents are set to cover the landlords cost and provide some return as cash flow, as a hedge against inflation, equity growth etc. The simple fact about East end rents is that they are set to cover vacancies, repairs etc arising from a low quality of tenant. Stable tenancy tends to lead to lower rents. When apartments are rented to transient people on social assistance and students there is more risk.

  11. Admin regarding the Chem Tank situation, I am suggesting that if we had elected representatives that were proactive rather than merely reactive then the presence of federal property within our city would have been dealt with previously to ensure that what is now happening could not have happened. Again, I know that I can harp on vision and leadership but I have lived now in Cornwall since 1986 and have yet to see true leadership. No direction, no map, just a lot of fumbling and seat of your pants politics. Do nothing mayors, fence sitters, political wannabes, photo opportunists, outright liars and dysfunctional councils.

    Go to the public library and view the forecast by the council and administration of the seventies. Cornwall was predicted to grow to a population of 100,000 by the year 2000. No plan or reason existed in the forecast to support just how and why this possibility would have occurred. So is it any wonder why it did not ? A vision is just the start, a detailed plan well thought out with a definite timeline becomes the map which displays the road to success.

  12. Author

    David we need to hold whomever was responsible at City Hall for not bringing forward to council and the public the construction of these tanks.

    Suspects are Bob Peters, Kevin Lajoie, Mark Boileau, Denis Thibault, Glen Grant, and the Mayor. The truth is buried among these “Gentlemen”. The truth needs to come out.

  13. 420 , you raise an important point.

  14. Again Admin I absolutely agree that the truth needs to come out and that the responsible parties be removed from their position of trust. We desperately need to stop giving violators of our trust a free pass unless we are bent on having our history repeat itself over and over and over again. Time to break the cycle and move forward .

  15. Author

    Btw David, that list should also include CAO Norm Levac.

  16. I said it before and I don’t know if Jamie published what I said but I said so any times that Bare Ass and council along with Norm Levac as well as the former CAO Fitzy should all be thrown out from the administration. Not one of them are any good exept maybe two and one is André Rivette and possibly the former cop Gerry Samson who are there at present. Leslie O’Shaughnessey knew of the insanity going on and he politely resigned and he was absolutely right in doing so. The whole place is totally corrupt and the sheeple keep on asking for more and electing the same old corrupted bunch every year. The sheeple love to be trampled on and fleeced.

  17. There is no reason to have a run down place like what is in the picture. If landlords do not keep their properties up to standard then they shouldn’t be renting. There are rents for people who do not meet the requirement for high rents (subsidized rents) but you have to go on a list which takes years to get in. Our rent is regular market rents and goes up every year. We owned before.

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