Saskatoon judge orders sale of problem-plagued Prairie Heights condo tower on 20th Street W.
Order believed to be first of its kind in Saskatchewan
The saga of the Prairie Heights Condominium Corporation at 1416 20th St. W. in Saskatoon came to an end this month with a three-page ruling by Court of Queen's Bench Justice Daniel Konkin.
The Saskatoon Fire Department had ordered the 44-unit tower closed on May 6, 2021, in the face of the building's deteriorating condition. That same month, Saskatoon lawyer Clayton Barry was appointed administrator of the condo corporation and assigned to address outstanding health and safety concerns
On Nov. 5, Justice Konkin granted Barry's request to terminate the corporation and get the building in shape to be sold.
"Like anything, it is born and then it dies. That's what's happened with this condominium. It was born, condominium titles were created, and now that has to be undone," Barry said in an interview.
"Instead of 44 condominium units, we're going to have one title for one parcel of land that is 1416 20th St."
Barry said that, as administrator, he had tried to get the individual condo owners to work together in mid-September to fix the building, but that it didn't pan out.
"We laid it out to the owners that, if we want to reopen the building, this is the plan. And ultimately, with that, are costs," he said.
"We needed the ownership group to come up with some money to make sure that we can have this be a place that's habitable again and where people can live. We gave the owners until mid-October to come up with those funds, and that date came and passed, and nobody paid those funds for remediation and reactivation."
The building's decline played out publicly.
Assistant fire chief Yvonne Raymer toured the property earlier this year after vandals trashed the sprinkler system, flooding seven floors.
"I would say that 90 per cent of the issues that we saw had to do with cockroaches, bodily fluids and a lot of drug paraphernalia," she said.
"We did note that it appears public corridors, stairwells, are being used for lunches, drugs use, possibly sleeping, bathroom facilities."
Barry said the immediate goal is to get the unoccupied building winterized to prevent any further deterioration, and then get it sold. The court set a base price of $1.4 million.
How much of the eventual sale proceeds go to the individual units owners is tough to calculate because there are creditors and costs, Barry said.
"There's a number of creditors of the Prairie Heights Condominium Corporation. The City of Saskatoon, for work and services they provided to the building. There were numerous calls made for emergency services as well ... there's quite a quite a large amount of back taxes owing to the city, so the city has to get paid. There's other creditors out there for people who provided services for, you know, cleaning or security," he said.
"The realtors have to get paid, the administrator has to get paid. And at the end of it, we're going to have a pool of funds and those funds will get paid into court. And the administrator has been tasked with preparing a report for the court and for the owners making a recommendation as to how the proceeds should be divided up among the ownership group."
Barry said the whole process is complicated by Justice Konkin's ruling breaking new ground. Barry is not aware of any other instance of a judge shutting down a condo corporation, "so there really isn't a defined process for it."