The Riverdale Neighbourhood Association is focused on improving tenant lifestyles that include better relationships with landlords, more housing and establishing greater food security for residents, according to their action plan presented to Hamilton politicians Jan. 14. “Our top priority is more tenant housing for our growing population,” said Rukhsana Amer, chair of the Riverdale Neighbourhood Association.
Amer and other members of the community, including co-ordinator Judy Kloosterman, turned out at city hall to present the association’s action plan, which has been in development since 2011.
While improving housing made it to the top of residents’ concerns, other key issues that need to be addressed are expanding community space, improving communication between tenants and landlords, improving the relationship between residents and their children’s elementary and secondary schools, offering more recreation programs for the community and boosting food security, including providing good quality food.
Riverdale is a diverse area, boasting the highest number of immigrants in the city. About 81 per cent of students in Riverdale speak a first language other than English, while 31 languages are spoken within the community. The area is also known for its mobile population, with about 22 per cent of residents changing addresses each year. More than 5,000 people live within this area bounded by Barton Street, Queenston Road, Lake Avenue and Centennial Parkway.
Ward 5 councillor Chad Collins said without a doubt the community’s highest priority is improving the area’s property standards, including the licensing of landlords. A few years ago the city and Collins oversaw a pilot program that established stricter enforcement for landlords to follow, while protecting tenants’ rights.
“Riverdale is the poster child for that program,” said Collins. “It has been tremendously successful.”
Community leaders agree funding could put the brakes on some parts of the action plan, but they said each priority will be examined thoroughly.
“This is great work,” said Mayor Bob Bratina. “We should continue it. We don’t want to lose the momentum.”