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No Apartment Construction

Letter to the Editor: Toronto Star - June 13, 1997


To the Editor:

In the article of June 13, more than two-thirds devoted to the government's position, Housing Minister Al Leach claims that his changes will get 10,000 new apartments built in two years. This is the same empty promise the B.C. Social Credit government made in 1983 when they repealed controls. In 1982, under controls, about 8000 (private sector rental) units were built in B.C, but rapidly declined after the repeal until the government gave into builder's demands for a government mortgage subsidy, and only then recovered to about 2500 units a year.(1) Clearly, removing Rent Controls did not solve their problems and now Metro Vancouver has a lower vacancy rate without controls, than Metro Toronto has with Rent Controls.(2)

In their oral presentation (at 5:10 PM) the developer's lobby group never blamed Rent Controls for lack of construction, they blamed the GST, property taxation and the cost of servicable land.(3)

There are numerous studies that show no evidence that Rent Controls are the cause of the lack of construction of rental apartments, and that is supported by the real-life example of Vancouver.(4)

Vacancy decontrol is a financial incentive for landlords to drive tenants out of their homes, as the landlord can charge the new tenant as much as they want. People have little choice; they have to live somewhere.

It appears that the government has faith that if it keeps making these false claims often enough that the public will believe these lies.


Sincerely,

Robert B. Levitt
bw201@torfree.net


FOOTNOTES:

  1. From the Province of British Columbia, Ministry of Housing publication, Rental Housing Trends in British Columbia. Graph, page 4. Publish 1995, ISBN: 0-7726-2669-3

  2. Latest CMHC stats, show the Toronto Census Metropolitan Area (C.M.A.) has a 1.2% vacancy rate, whereas the Vancouver C.M.A. is 1.1%.

  3. From notes I took of the oral deputation by the Urban Development Institute. These will appear in the Hansard records.

  4. The most recent studying showing the lack of correlation between Rent Controls and lack of private sector apartment construction, is the Canada Mortgage and Housing commissioned study entitled: Testing Hypotheses About Rent Controls, October 1993. It also shows a lack of correlation between Rent Controls and the lack of proper building maintenance, another unsupported claim the Harris government regularly makes.


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