Saskatoon’s condo conversion policy to change

Monday night’s meeting of Saskatoon city council’s executive committee produced nearly five hours of “discussion and heated debate,” on proposed changes to the city’s condo conversion policy according to a report in this morning’s Star Phoenix. The majority of the councilors in attendance ultimately voted to put the brakes on the trend toward rapid and unrestricted conversions of apartment buildings to condos.


Assuming that the executive committee’s recommendations are approved by city council at its April 21 meeting, certificates for conversions will not be granted when vacancy rates fall below 1.5%, as measured in Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation’s Rental Market Outlook reports. The most recent report pegged Saskatoon’s apartment vacancy rate at just 0.6%. If approved, the new policy will not be applied to the applications for 14 buildings that are already in the queue for approval.


Key to the sudden shift seems to be a submission from Dr. Ryan Walker, an urban planning and geography professor at the University of Saskatchewan. Walker, with the help of colleagues from across the country made the case that diminishing supplies of rental housing will lead to further labour shortages in “key worker occupations.”


Read the Star Phoenix story here.

I’m always happy to answer your Saskatoon real estate questions.  All of my contact info is here. Please feel free to call or email.

Follow our daily updates on Twitter @SaskatoonHomes.

Norm Fisher
Royal LePage Saskatoon Real Estate

How rent controls in Saskatchewan can do more harm than good

There’s a bit of a debate occurring on another post about whether or not Saskatchewan needs to implement rent control legislation.


Few would disagree that this market is extremely tough for renters and it would be difficult to make a case that Saskatoon renters don’t need some help right now. Is rent control the right way to do that or does such legislation ultimately lead to greater harm in the rental market?


Here are some points gleaned from a policy paper written by William Tucker, author of “The Excluded Americans: Homelessness and Housing Policies. Please refer to the complete document to examine the evidence in support of his position.


  • Rent controls cause frustrated property owners to sell and redirect investment dollars to a multitude of other investment opportunities that exist in the free market, ultimately reducing the supply of rental housing.

  • Rent controls produce excess demand, which further reduces the stock of rental housing for those who need it most.

  • Rent controlled housing tends to come off of the market and stay off of the market forever. Renters just don’t move.

  • Rent controls create closed communities, which excludes newcomers from entering the market.

  • Rent controlled housing tends to fall into the hands of middle-class professionals, not the poor.

  • Rent controls provide an incentive for landlords to neglect property and tenants.

  • Historically, vacancy rates are significantly lower in rent controlled areas than they are in free and open rental markets.

  • Median rents tend to be higher in areas with rent control than in areas that aren’t controlled.

  • Rent controls reduce the quality and quantity of housing available to renters.

Standard supply-and-demand theory predicts that any price controls, including rent controls, will produce an excess of demand over supply–an economic “shortage.” There is virtually no disagreement on this premise. In a survey of 75 of the world’s outstanding economists, J. R. Kearl and his colleagues found nearly unanimous agreement on the proposition: “A ceiling on rents will reduce the quality and quantity of housing.”


I’m always happy to answer your Saskatoon real estate questions.  All of my contact info is here. Please feel free to call or email.

Follow our daily updates on Twitter @SaskatoonHomes.

Norm Fisher
Royal LePage Saskatoon Real Estate

Saskatoon Milroy Apartments tenants offered first crack at converted units

Tenants of the Saskatoon Milroy Apartments received offers to purchase their units from the developer yesterday. Two of them kindly dropped me a note and I thought you might be interested in the details.


A tenant living on the 12th floor writes, “We got a package in the mail last night with the price and upgrades they are doing. Ours is priced at $315,888.09 – we have 30 days to buy and if we buy before April 10 we save a whopping 2000. This includes a surface parking spot as well. Sounds a little (alright a lot) steep for this place. They are planning on “gutting” the suite – replacing plumbing fixtures, kitchen cabinets, flooring, windows and appliances and upgrading the electrical service to the building and each suite. Replacing the air chiller, moving to in-suite laundry and upgrading the elevator(s).”


I love the .09 cents thing.


According to another tenant residing of the 17th floor, it will set you back considerably to move up five floors. He states that his unit is offered to him at $351,502.32.


Let’s assume that the gentleman on 17 is interested in purchasing this property and he coughs up a 10% down payment and mortgages the balance. At 5.1% over 25 years, and assuming condo fees of roughly $290 per month and taxes of $200 (a guess, but probably somewhere close), he’ll have monthly payments totaling $2,385.13. An annual income of $95,000 will be required to qualify. Thankfully, we have 40-year mortgages that allow him to qualify with just $82,000 in annual income. 🙂


Average annual income of a Saskatchewan resident – $38,636.

I’m always happy to answer your Saskatoon real estate questions.  All of my contact info is here. Please feel free to call or email.

Follow our daily updates on Twitter @SaskatoonHomes.

Norm Fisher
Royal LePage Saskatoon Real Estate

Saskatoon Milroy Apartment tenants lose court challenge to halt condo Conversion

Tenants of Saskatoon’s Milroy Apartments learned Thursday of their lost court challenge aimed at stopping the condo conversion project at their building, which was approved by Saskatoon city council on January 14, 2008.


“The decision was that the court is not interfering with city council’s decision. The application to set aside the decision approving the condominium plan was denied,” said Andrew Mason, lawyer for the Milroy tenants. Mason presented his case before Court of Queen’s Bench Justice Mona Dovell on March 12 arguing that council did not correctly interpret or apply provisions in the provincial Condominium Property Act which gives municipalities discretionary wiggle room to deny applications based on low rental vacancy rates. The latest Rental Market Report released in December by Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation pegged the vacancy rate in the area at just 1%, and at .6% across the city of Saskatoon.


The Milroy Apartment tenants will now have to decide if they are willing to bear additional costs, which would have to be incurred if they choose to appeal the court’s ruling.


The City of Saskatoon has agreed to undertake a review of its condominium conversion policies and city administrators have already brought a proposal of potential changes forward. The administration will present the court decision to the city’s executive committee on March 31, and according to city solicitor Theresa Dust, a policy debate will likely ensue at the committee’s April 14 meeting.

Read the story from today’s Star Phoenix here.

I’m always happy to answer your Saskatoon real estate questions.  All of my contact info is here. Please feel free to call or email.

Norm Fisher
Royal LePage Saskatoon Real Estate

Saskatoon Milroy tenants have their day in court

Tenants of Saskatoon’s Milroy Apartments asked Justice Mona Dovell to overturn the City of Saskatoon’s decision to approve an application to convert the apartments to condos on Tuesday.

Andrew Mason, the lawyer representing the group of tenants who are opposing the decision argued that city council either misinterpreted the provincial legislation that governs condominium conversions, or ignored it.

Bill Davern, legal council for the City of Saskatoon maintained that council has jurisdiction to make the decision without interference from the courts, that they “fairly considered” all factors which the law requires them to consider, and that the decision to grant the application was “not unreasonable.”

Davern told Justice Dovell that 21 additional applications for conversion projects are waiting for approval and that if she decides that the courts should have the final say in this instance that it would open the door to future actions.

“I don’t know whether the court, with all due respect, is properly equipped to do that.”

Justice Dovell reserved her decision and promised to deliver a judgment as soon as possible.

I’m always happy to answer your Saskatoon real estate questions.  All of my contact info is here. Please feel free to call or email.

Follow our daily updates on Twitter @SaskatoonHomes.

Norm Fisher
Royal LePage Saskatoon Real Estate