Leaky Condos Adding to the Affordabilty Crisis: NDP BC Caucus Supports Appeal to New Federal Housing Minister

OTTAWA – The NDP today called on the government to fulfill the Conservative Party’s 2006 election promise for a review of the largest and costliest construction crisis in Canadian history – BC’s leaky condo crisis – and implement the Barrett Commission Inquiry’s recommendation for financial relief.

Carmen Maretic, President of Consumer Advocacy and Support for Homeowners (CASH) Society was joined by six NDP MPs: Dawn Black (New Westminster-Coquitlam), Libby Davies (Vancouver East), Peter Julian (Burnaby-New Westminster), Penny Priddy (Surrey North), Bill Siksay (Burnaby-Douglas) and NDP Housing Critic Irene Mathyssen (London-Fanshawe). The group demanded that the new Federal Housing Minister, Monte Solberg, keep the Conservative campaign promise and act immediately.

“Leaky condo and cooperative owners continue to struggle with repairs and escalating costs. The average per unit costs rose from $38,000 to $62,000 for cooperative owners and from $20,000 to $54,000 for condo owners from 2000 to 2006,” said Siksay.

“It’s been seven years since the inquiry into the construction of condominiums gave its recommendations and we have only seen inaction from the Liberal and Conservative governments,” said Julian.

The key recommendations coming out of the Barrett Commission included: forgiving the GST on repair and restoration costs; income tax deduction of repair costs; fair and flexible Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation grants to leaky housing cooperatives; and penalty free access to RRSPs to fund repairs. The Commission also suggested that CMHC has failed to be an advocate for homebuyers in the coastal climate of British Columbia.

“The Barrett Commission, a BC provincial inquiry, could only go so far in determining what role CMHC played in the delivery of substandard constructed homes. That’s why the Federal government must hold an inquiry to get to the bottom of this matter and to prevent other Canadians from falling victim to defective homes,” said Maretic.

“Thousands of working families urgently need their government to stand up and implement the recommendations from the Barrett Commission. We are also expecting nothing more than for the Conservatives to keep their campaign promise,” said Black.

Priddy noted that there are other costs involved. The health hazards of living with mould in walls, ceilings and floors are serious, especially for infants and young children who have more fragile respiratory systems and those who have weak immune systems.