Anger was the dominant emotion at Monday’s city council meeting when the application by Viking Developments to convert Saskatoon’s Milroy Apartments to condos was approved.
Current bylaws require conversion applications which affect more than 100 units be approved by council who have the discretion to deny them if vacancy rates in the area are sufficiently low that tenants may have difficulty finding alternative accommodations. According to CMHC’s recently released “Rental Market Report,” apartment vacancy rates in the immediate vicinity of the Milroy have dropped to 1%, and as low as .6% across the city of Saskatoon.
The Milroy Apartments consist of 156 living units. Viking has promised to retain 40 of the units as rental properties which will be offered to long-term tenants at “market rents.” Like most promises, there is no legal obligation to deliver.
Of course, the fly in the ointment here is the tenants who will be impacted, “many of whom are over 70 years of age and coping with limited mobility and health issues,” according to the Saskatoon Star Phoenix.
In the past, I’ve taken the position that the market should be allowed to work and I appreciate the complexity of the decision that council was faced with. That said, I can’t imagine a worse time to force at least 116 tenants, many of them elderly, to find a new home. We could have justified putting this one off until rental conditions improve.
Perhaps “the market” will grow a conscience and bite Viking in the ass!
Read also: Star Phoenix - Milroy conversion gets OK from city council
Read also: CMHC Rental Market Report for 2007, Saskatoon
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Norm Fisher Royal LePage Vidorra