Condo conversions causing concerns

The owner of two Windsor apartment buildings wants to convert 117 rental units into condominiums, which would save $105,000 in property taxes.
(CBC File Photo)

The owner of two Windsor apartment buildings wants to convert 117 rental units into condominiums, which would save $105,000 in property taxes. 

The request went before the city's Planning, Heritage and Economic Development Standing Committee, headed by Councillor Bill Marra. 

The city has been flooded with similar requests over the past nine years, said Marra.  

"It's been a phenomenon that started right around 2006, and we don't have the cumulative total with us as far as the impact it's had on the tax base, but you start doing the math...you start extrapolating those numbers and they are considerable," said Marra. 

One of the buildings to be considered is located on Bruce Avenue, the other on Tecumseh Road East, right across from Jackson Park.

Currently, the property taxes on the Bruce Avenue property are $67,000 which will drop to $28,000 once converted. On Tecumseh Road the taxes are $114,000 and would drop to $48,000. 

"These property owners are taking full advantage of the letter of the law," said Marra. "We are required to comply with these requests if they meet all the planning act requirements, the official plan requirements and also the condominium act requirements."

Marra said the applications could be denied if the city's vacancy rate falls below three per cent. Currently, Windsor's vacancy rate is a little over four per cent. 

Lack of affordable housing 

The owner must carry out dozens of upgrades to the buildings before putting the units up for sale. 

Tenants are protected because they have the first opportunity to buy their unit, otherwise they can stay with a lifetime lease, said Marra. 

Preet Singh, a staff lawyer with Legal Assistance of Windsor, has concerns tenants may see their rents jacked up.

"There's a significant lack of affordable housing available in Windsor and a long waiting list in this community waiting for social housing, so there's certainly a potential. These units, once they're converted, the people living there might be forced to move," she said. 

Low income people have limited resources and moving could have a big impact on the individuals and their children, said Singh. 

"There's obviously the financial aspect of moving, the emotional support required in coming to terms with that," she said. "The effect on their children having to change schools, these areas are close to bus routes, it's a massive inconvenience." 

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