People who live near a rooming house in downtown Fredericton are disputing the assertions of other residents who claim the property — and its inhabitants — make the neighbourhood "scary."
A proposed zoning amendment currently under consideration by city council would increase the number of people allowed to live at 244 and 246 Charlotte St. to 12 from eight.
In letters to city hall, some area residents have complained about the property and tenants, citing late-night shouting matches, multiple police visits and trouble in the streets.
Others, like next-door neighbour Pamela Pachal, said the disturbances haven't been that bad.
"There's ambulances more often there, but I think there's a couple people there who are a little bit more susceptible to certain issues than everyone else," she said.
Kelly Baker, another neighbour, said she's lived in the area for three years and hasn't had an issue. She said the need for more space points to a bigger problem and that adding more tenants is just a Band-Aid solution.
"I know a few of them just got out of the homeless shelter and things like that so if there were transitional spaces for them available to help them integrate back into society after they left shelters or corrections or what have you, I think that would be a better answer," she said.
Renters could be homeless: landlord
At a council meeting Monday night, property owner Keith Young confessed to currently having 14 people living in the house. He said that if those people aren't able to stay in his building, they will likely be homeless.
"It seems to me that we're in this insane position of believing that a landlord has emerged as a sort of champion of social justice," said neighbour Alan Hall.
"He's broken the law, by his own admission, now for years ... do we think he's doing that out of the kindness of his heart or is it possible, just possible maybe that he's doing that because it makes him more money?"
Hall added that he loves the neighbourhood and its variability and does not want the rooming house to close.
"I certainly don't want [the people who live there] to move away. I certainly don't want them to feel that they're unwanted by their neighbours, that's terrible to me."
Both city staff and the planning advisory committee have recommended rejection of the amendment.
Council is expected to make a decision at its next meeting on May 8.