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

Saskatoon condo conversion debate about to get hotter

You’ve got to know that Saskatoon community services manager, Paul Gauthier is having some long days at work. He’s one of the civic officials responsible for processing condominium conversion applications. That can’t be a real funfest right now. In fact, approving condo conversion applications has become so controversial that Gauthier has simply had enough, and he has elected to invoke a clause in the current policy which allows him to toss the political hot potato to city council for review of all existing and future applications.


If you think it’s a hot debate now, rest assured that things are about to heat up.


Council passed a motion on Monday, which essentially puts 21 existing apartment building conversion applications in limbo. Gauthier advised council that a new report would be completed for its March 17 meeting, outlining the current situation and possible policy changes which could be used to regulate condo conversions. Another report, recently brought forward by city administrators was tabled for later discussion following a court date on March 11 when tenants of Saskatoon’s Milroy Apartments will argue against the certificate of approval which was issued on that property. Mean time, no conversion certificates will be granted and those which are already in the hopper would be dealt with in accordance with any new policy council might choose to adopt.


Dealing with a steady flow of angry tenants and concerned citizens can’t be easy. I’m guessing that we’ll have some pretty vocal investors on our hands as we move forward from here. Tens of millions of dollars have been invested and those investments were made with an end goal in mind; conversion and resale.


It’s easy to see valid points on either side of the argument. Displaced tenants have few options and promising them that “the market” will eventually work its magic is of little comfort when you don’t know where you’ll be living in thirty days. Free market proponents will argue that there are major benefits to be realized through conversions. Preventing these units from reaching the resale market limits supply in an already stressed market and puts further pressure on prices. Ultimately, that hurts the rental market as well. It’s a real catch 22.


The complexity of the issue can’t be overstated. At the end of the day, the math is fairly simple. Demand exceeds supply in both the rental and the resale market. We need more property in both arenas if we’re going to see any relief. Development of new rental property is the only solution that serves everyone and it needs to happen fast. Free land anyone? I suspect the city may be open to your proposal.

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

A different twist in the Saskatoon condo conversion saga

In spite of the fact that approval has been obtained and the Kelsey Apartments have been separately titled, the building’s owner, Victory Majors Investment Co. has decided to abandon its plans to sell the units off. Kay Nasser, founder of the company has announced that they will hold onto all 77 units and rent them out.


The original plan was to create “luxury condo units,” but skyrocketing construction costs got in the way. Nasser told Star Phoenix business editor, Murray Lyons, “The market wasn’t there and we couldn’t get people to do the work. It was getting prohibitively expensive.”


The Kelsey has been renamed, the “Phoenix” and the property manager will begin showing the vacant 1, 2 and 3-bedroom apartments to prospective renters this weekend.


Given the extremely low vacancy rates for apartments in Saskatoon, I think we can see this as a pretty positive story. Does it finally make more sense for owners to hold and rent the apartments that they own? Could this be the first sign of a turn around that works in favour of local renters? Only time will tell, but in the mean time, 77 new apartment vacancies certainly can’t hurt.

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

Michael Lobsinger, River Landing developer to speak in Saskatoon

Michael Lobsinger, Lake Placid developmentsWhen the City asked for developers to consider an exciting new “Urban Village” concept at River Landing in Saskatoon’s Central Business District, the call was answered by Michael Lobsinger, a former Saskatoon resident and now a successful real estate developer.


On Wednesday, March 12, Mr. Michael E. Lobsinger, President CEO, Lake Placid Group, will speak to the Saskatoon business community at the 14th Annual Traders Luncheon in support of Junior Achievement of Saskatchewan. He will discuss the challenges and rewards in building in Canada’s hottest markets – Calgary and Saskatoon.


Lunch begins at 12:00 PM at the Sheraton Cavalier in Saskatoon with the speech beginning at 12:30 PM.


Flyer with additional event details.

Ticket order form.


Thanks to Darren Hill, President and CEO of Junior Achievement of Saskatchewan for the heads up on this event.

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