Leaky Condo costs have soared past $3 billion, so far

Leaky Condo reconstruction costs have soared past $3 billion so far, and that doesn’t include the indirect societal costs borne by British Columbians that nobody is tracking.

Since only about 20 percent of leaky condo owners met the government imposed “means test” of the Homeowner Protection Office loan program, the $670 million in HPO victim loans made to date represents about 20 percent of the total direct cost of the leaky condo disaster.

Local bankruptcy trustees and lawyers are in for another windfall.

With remediation costs more than three times what they were 10 years ago we are about to witness the further and extreme plundering of hundreds, perhaps thousands, of British Columbian families at the bloodied hands of Housing Minister, Rich Coleman.  

The discontinuation of the HPO Reconstruction Loan Program by this Minister and his government is unconscionable. 

In the Fall of 2007 the HPO received an independent report from McClanaghan and Associates which clearly pointed out that we were not even half way through the leaky condo disaster in BC.  The full extent of the leaky condo disaster was finally being acknowledged after 9 long years of under-estimating.

Why wasn’t the $750 fee paid by new homeowners increased by the HPO to sustain the program when they received this report?

The ongoing misreading and mishandling of the leaky condo issue by the government and their appointed HPO board of gross incompetents, all representatives of the building industry, should come as no surprise to British Columbians. 

It goes to show that if builders can’t build defect free homes, how can they possibly be left to manage anything else (let alone regulate themselves)?

I recall attending a Port Coquitlam meeting in May 1999 where the housing critic of the day was guest speaker.  The topic: “Leaky Condos: Tired of being ignored by this government?” The inference by Coleman and the Liberals was that they were going to do something that the NDP weren’t doing.

When the HPO was formed almost 11 years ago in response to the need to administer consumer protection legislation, there was some optimism that the leaky condo disaster and other outstanding homeowner issues would be dealt with by government; not a chance. 

Legislation dealing with consumer products should be bound by the basic principles of the United Nations Guidelines for Consumer Protection.  Two years ago Minister Coleman and this government were reminded by the Consumer Advocacy and Support for Homeowners of the following UN principles:

18. Governments should adopt or maintain policies that make clear the responsibility of the producer to ensure that goods meet reasonable demands of durability, utility and reliability, and are suited to the purpose for which they are intended, and that the seller should see that these requirements are met;

32. Governments should establish or maintain legal and/or administrative measures to enable consumers or, as appropriate, relevant organizations to obtain redress through formal or informal procedures that are expeditious, fair, inexpensive and accessible.

When will there finally be justice?  Don’t we elect politicians to, first and foremost, protect us?  Coleman has done nothing to redress the perpetrators. 

The Homeowner Protection Act is worthless because the consumer protection mandate of the legislation has never been even slightly achieved and there is no accountability for the negligence of Coleman and his government.

According to a Vancouver Sun report, Coleman said he has asked the government’s Homeowner Protection Office, which administers the loan program, to review its operations and determine “what other programs may or may not be necessary.”

Yes, the same industry people who victimized homeowners by bankrupting the New Home Warranty program, and who have now bungled the Reconstruction Loan program which was instituted in an attempt to assist even more victims of the building industry, are being asked to review their own ineptness. 

This helps to explain why, under Coleman, the HPO has become commonly known as the Homebuilder Protection Office.  One person has suggested to me that the cancellation of the loan program is “…to placate the developers who are upset about the HST”.

On March 23, 2009, Bill 12: the Strata Property Amendment Act was introduced in the BC Legislature. Changes resolving key maintenance issues would have become mandatory had it been allowed passage by Coleman and his government.

Specifically, strata corporations would have been required to obtain and retain reports about repair or maintenance of major items including, engineering reports, risk management reports, sanitation reports, and reports about items in a depreciation report.

Unfortunately Coleman chose to allow the amendments to “die on the Order Paper” prior to the election, and despite plenty of time to pass the legislation.  Coleman now has the gall to accuse (as in, ‘blame the victim’) condo owners of failing to perform proper maintenance.

Coleman only does what is in the best interest of the building, wood, insurance industries, etc, is disinterested in doing what is right for consumers, and is completely untrustworthy; he is the perfect Campbell Liberal marionette. 

If the allowance of these injustices and non-performance fit into the BC Liberal Constitution, I’m certain leaky condo owners want the Party Charter pulled.  If it is not in the purposes, then accountability to British Columbians for this sustained incompetence, neglect, lack of political-will and leadership, is long overdue.

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