Mayoral candidate Clive Doucet says the city must do more to halt the eviction of tenants from low-income rental units that have been allowed to fall into disrepair.
Doucet's proposal — his first major platform announcement of the municipal election — comes after the owner of the Heron Gate development, Timbercreek, announced plans to evict hundreds of people living in 105 low-rent townhomes.
The company claims many of the units are in such bad condition they can't be saved.
"People might be left without a home over their heads by the end of next month, so it didn't seem possible to sit on our hands," Doucet said of the eviction plan.
He believes Timbercreek should have done a better job maintaining the units in the first place, and shouldn't be allowed to profit from their demise.
He said the city has done a poor job sending that message.
"What we really need is clear indications to big corporate landlords like this that they need to maintain their properties," Doucet said.
Timbercreek did not immediately respond to CBC's request for an interview.
Heron Gate is only the most egregious example of a system that's ensuring low-income families have fewer places to live, Doucet said.
As mayor, Doucet said he'll institute a rental replacement bylaw forcing any developer that demolishes affordable housing units to replace them with new ones.
"What's the point of building new affordable housing if you're destroying the stuff behind you?" Doucet asked.
He also supports a practice known as inclusionary zoning, which will be debated during the next term of council. It requires developers to build affordable units as part of every new housing project.
Doucet believes between five and 25 per cent of new units should be affordable.
Full platform coming
Mayor Jim Watson met with Heron Gate tenants in June to talk about their concerns.
His campaign did not immediately respond to CBC's request for his take on the issue.
Doucet didn't plan to release his mayoral platform until after the Labour Day, but said the situation in Heron Gate demands immediate attention.
"I want to send a signal to the Timbercreek corporation," he said.
"They may have a new mayor that's not so happy with the way they're behaving."
The vote for the next mayor and council will take place Oct. 22.