Regina Rental Scorecard

With housing likely to be the focus of much debate during Monday's council meeting, it seemed a good time to look at how Regina is doing in its struggle to alleviate the rental crunch.

Do you like numbers? Yeah, me neither. Still, I went back over city council decisions from July 2008 (the oldest up on the city's website) through to now and tallied up how many rental units have been lost to condo conversions and how many new rental suites have been supported by council in some way.

(I should note, the numbers here include the applications being considered Monday as though council approves them -- which, I will venture to say, is a fair assumption. If, however, it turns out that some are denied, these numbers will need to be adjusted.)

Anyway, here we go....

Between July 2008 and June 2009, 239 rental units were in buildings which Regina Planning Commission (RPC) greenlit for conversion to condominiums. (101 of those units are being considered by council on Monday.)

179 units were in buildings where an agreement was struck with the city so that 75 per cent of the units would have to remain rental suites.

Assuming the developers abide by that restriction, that means 156 of the 239 rental units can be expected to be turned into condos.

Meanwhile, RPC has supported the construction of 416 rental units (70 of which will be considered Monday).

Most of those are in the form of new apartment complexes for which the city granted discretionary use applications. But, 102 units in development were supported directly by the city through tax cuts and/or grants.

What does this all add up to? Well, if everything goes as planned, Regina should eventually see 210 more rental suites as a result of the last 11 months worth of decisions.

Sounds pretty good, doesn't it? Considering the current rental market consists of around 20,000 units, this represents a little more than a 1 per cent increase in the rental pool. A modest improvement. And, assuming all 210 units stay vacant for a while and don't get snatched up by people moving into the city or people displaced by condo conversions, that could help our vacancy rate creep up to that magic three per cent level.

There are a few things to keep in mind here, though.

First, that 75 per cent provision will only be in effect for five years or until the vacancy rate gets up to three per cent. Once either of those conditions is met, another 179 rental units will become vulnerable.

Second, if the city had followed it's policy to deny condo applications once the vacancy drops below three per cent, instead of only an anticipated net increase of 210 units, the rental pool could have been expected to grow by 416 units.

Third, considering how much the city has grown and is hoping to grow over the next couple years, it seems likely that 210 units (or 416, for that matter) will be insufficient to satisfy the city's need for new rental accomodation. Sure, there will probably be more rental built in the future. But there are also a few more condo conversions in the queue. What that adds up to is we're seeing the amount of rental space increase at a crawling pace when what the market needs is a brisk walk at the very least.

And fourth, a large portion of the new rental suites under development are to be built on the edge of the city. 191 of them, in fact. Those'll be going up around E Eastgate Dr and Quance St. (Another 70 units are slated for 110 N Broad St. While that's pretty far north, it seems to be a more residential-friendly area and not isolated among big box stores and parking lagoons like the Eastgate and Quance developments.)

Thus, as the bulk of the conversion applications have come from the city's centre, the 156 households that have been displaced by condos will likely find themselves hunting for a home on the fringe of the city.

A People Better Than Their Leaders

Photo of a supporter of candidate Mir Hossein Mousavi taken a while back. This is a face of change, and this is what the old clerics fear. The site I swiped this pic from--Tehranlive.org--hasn't been updated for a few days (no updates? In a police state? Go figure!) but it's worth checking out. Here's the link.

Iran Update (Language And Anger Warning)

So, as expected, all hell is breaking loose in Iran (the Guardian). Protesters are rioting and government soldiers are killing them. If you want to ruin your Saturday--and hey, why not? a lot of Iranians are having their weekends ruined!--check out Andrew Sullivan's live blog over at the Atlantic. There's gruesome, tragic videos of death and mayhem, too. Wheee.

Oh, and to make a few obvious points with absolutely necessary strong language: 1.) fuck tyrants. 2.) fuck religion when it's twisted to justify slaughter, and I don't care if it's Judaism, Christianity, Islam, Zoroastrianism or Jedi and 3.) fuck the so-called protectors of the public good -- be they soldiers, police or militias--who murder unarmed civilians. If you're wearing body armor in Iraq today you're the bad guy. Fuck you.

And by the way, just to put my massive rage in context for people who aren't used to me totally flipping out, I've had a huge soft spot for Iran for a long time. It's seemed to me a country full of dynamic, strong, intelligent and wonderful people with the bad luck to be ruled by a pack of cave-dwelling religious thugs from the stone age. I'm no kind of expert on the country whatsoever but I always had a gut feeling the people of this country were fundamentally smart, funny, friendly and irrepressible and (before the Republicans were turfed in the States), I spent a couple of years freaking out over the fact that Cheney and co. clearly wanted to bomb them (4. and fuck Cheney, Bush and company).

To see these wonderful, brave people lying dead and dying in the streets, it's too much. This regime needs to end so Iran can grow. There's a flower here that can make the world a lovelier place.

Out with the cheaters, liars, desperate power-graspers and "supreme leaders". Out with religious governments.

Saturday Morning Cartoon

What's worse than a Dukes of Hazzard cartoon? How about a Dukes of Hazzard cartoon that stars replacement Dukes Vance and Coy. It's hard to believe but in 1983 Hanna-Barbera brought The Dukes to Saturday morning kids with a General Lee that could inflate its tires and the wrong Duke Boys racing around the world against Boss Hogg.

Bo and Luke were back for season two without any logical explanation. Somewhere between Hong Kong and Switzerland Vance and Coy mysteriously became Bo and Luke but the bad jokes and weak animation remained the same.