I was on CBC Metro Morning on Monday to discuss “Condo Hating,” and host, Matt Galloway used a very interesting term to describe the condo development in Toronto: “A necessary evil.”
Agree or disagree?
Hmmm….I was really hoping that www.cbc.ca would have a podcast of my chat with Matt Galloway, but alas, they do not.
We’ll have to settle for THIS article/summary of our conversation.
We chatted for a good 5-6 minutes, but only a few quotes and points made it into the summary.
Matt suggested that there is a lot of “Condo Hating,” going on in Toronto these days, and I didn’t disagree.
I surmised that you have to divide so-called haters into two categories:
1) House Owners
2) Condo Owners
Now, of the first group, we can further divide those house owners to get a sense of why these people “hate” condos.
First, you have the people who can afford BOTH houses and condos, and ended up buying houses. Of course these people don’t like condos! If they did, they’d have bought one. Being able to afford a house in today’s Toronto marketplace is a luxury, make no mistake. And if somebody who has the money to buy a house was asked about living in a condo – what do you think that person would say about condo living?
Secondly, consider that many home-owners have never lived in a condo. Think about a 55-year-old who has lived in seven different houses, and never a condo. Consider this person’s 4,000 square foot house, of which probably less than half is actually used, and now think about telling this person to live in the proverbial “Shoebox in the sky.” With all due respect, somebody who has never lived in a condo should not really have an opinion on condo living. You can’t say, “I don’t like apples” if you’ve never tasted, held, or even seen one.
As for condo owners, it goes back to the very first point.
If condo owners are “condo hating,” perhaps it’s because they wish they could afford a house.
Much of our city is frustrated with the price of freehold homes, but the reality is – not much is going to change. We can build more condos, but we can never really increase the supply of houses, and more and more people who wish they could afford a house will be disappointed.
Then, we have the condo-haters who own or live in condos, but who have had bad experiences. I think we can all voice a few complaints about condo-living, but your loud neighbour down the hall isn’t very different from your loud-next door neighbour in his backyard.
The point I wanted to make on Monday’s CBC Metro Morning was that condo living is about the lifestyle.
I told Matt Galloway, “I’m 32 years old, and I work 70 hour weeks, so when I get home at 10pm, I love driving into my underground garage and taking the elevator up to my unit. My fiancée works in social work and is in and out of shelters throughout the downtown core, so the location is perfect for her. Condominium living, and the lifestyle it provides, is perfect for us, right now.”
I don’t have to shovel snow, rake leaves, water-proof my leaky-basement, fix my roof, get raccoons out of my attic, or do anything but live in the space. That is what condo living is about, in addition to location, which is right downtown, where there are no houses.
There are pros and cons to both houses and condos, and I understand that a large majority of the buyer pool would much rather own a house than a condo, if finances allowed it.
But I have to rush to the defence of “Condo Living” when the hating is perpetrated by many people who have never been inside a condo, or by millionaire home-owners who hate condos like they would hate to buy a hot-dog off a cart rather than eat caviar in the back of their limo.
As for the discussion about “Where the city is headed,” that’s a discussion with no conclusion, and no solution to a hard-to-identify problem.
But if you have time, check out the CBC’s interactive tool to compare the city skyline today versus 1998. Check it out HERE.
I’ve cropped a couple photos just to give you an idea.
Here is the waterfront in 1998:
And here it is in 2012:
As I said on Metro Morning – if we don’t build condos for people who want to live downtown, then they’d all live in the suburbs, and drive 90 minutes each way, every day, and further congest our already congested city.
Of course, traffic and congestion is yet another topic to explore. Just not today…