Hey everybody! Apologies for not blogging about city hall so much lately. I’ve tried to, but it’s so cold in our house these days that my fingers are as brittle as old icicles. I fear that if I use them to type they’ll shatter.
In fact, I’m tacking this out right now with a pencil clenched in my teeth.
Dammit, I’m cold.
Anyway. Unless someone changed the schedule without telling me, there should be a city council meeting on this Monday night. And if there is, it should (again, unless someone’s changed things) be the council meeting that will consider the proposed new condominium conversion policy!
“So what? Big deal. Who gives a fig?” I hear you saying. (Sound carries better when it’s this cold.)
Well, I do. This is the culmination of a whole long schlomozzle that started back in — jeeziz, 2008? could it be that long ago? — when a whopping mass of applications to convert apartment buildings into condominiums came into city hall. And this coincided with the city’s vacancy rate dropping to 0.5 per cent — a level from which it has yet to recover.
So, after years of saying “Yes!” to condo conversions (even though their old policy said they should have been saying “No!”) and over that time effectively seeing the vacancy rate go up by only a mere 0.1 per cent, city council will now (probably) be instituting a new policy so that they won’t be caught passing condo conversions willy-nilly the next time the vacancy rate crashes and they get smacked with a bundle of applications.
Instead, they’ll have a policy that hands that responsibility off to staff! (I’m being snide because I’m too cold to be nice.)
For me, this will be a big day because I don’t know if you remember but condo conversions was pretty much where I started covering city hall for the prairie dog. Monday’s meeting will be like a kind of climax for this act in my journalism career. I’d better get some narrative closure from it.
I’m thinking I might need a post-meeting cake.
Anyway, you can read the policy for yourself on the page for the Nov 28 Planning Commission meeting at which the policy was considered. But be warned! Read the report and the decisions because RPC amended the policy at that meeting so if you just go by the policy as written you’ll get the details wrong.
And, just for kicks, you can also type the words “condominium conversion” into that search feature at the top of the page and see the reams of crap we’ve written on the subject.
And, you still have time to get your name on the list to speak before council on Monday, if, say, you have some issues with that new policy. But you have to act fast. Your written submission has to be in the city clerk’s hand by 1pm today!
(I know. Crazy, isn’t it? The agenda for the council meeting on Monday isn’t even on the city’s website yet and yet you’re supposed to have a coherent submission written and mailed in already. Although, I’ve seen them cut people some slack by a day, so if you call and ask for extra time on your homework I’m sure you could get an extension for the night so you can polish it up.)
Okay. That’s it. I’m going to set some old council reports on fire and see if I can’t thaw myself out. Hope to see you at council Monday night.
UPDATE: Vanda points out in the comments that council will also be considering the demolition of 1755 Hamilton St at this meeting. This is a big fucking deal. Bigger than the condo policy, maybe. And stupid me for forgetting to mention this sooner.
1755 Hamilton is an apartment building downtown that provided affordable suites to 48 households. The owner has requested a demolition permit for the building and evicted all the tenants. (And, incidentally, CMHC collected its most recent vacancy numbers before those evictions were made, so we may actually have a much lower vacancy rate that 0.6 per cent.)
It will be interesting to see if there is any strategy available to council to block this demolition. And it will be interesting to see if the owner has decided what he’s going to build on that site once the apartments come down. My guess is the answers are “Not that they’d be amenable to trying,” and “Parking” respectively.
So… one more reason to show up at council on Monday.