The Costliest Disaster in Canadian History

In its zeal to torque stories about Fort Mac, the Canadian media has forgotten the actual largest disaster in Canada with headlines like this: “Fort McMurray wildfire estimated to be costliest disaster in Canada”.
Dropping the word “natural” makes the headline of this article (and many others) inaccurate.

The $3.58-billion insured property damage estimates from the northern Alberta wildfires might in fact be the costliest “natural” disaster in Canadian history, but to set the record straight, the costliest disaster in Canadian history is the ongoing Leaky Condo Disaster in BC, which will have easily exceeded $5-billion to date, but who has been counting?

Leaky Condo Disaster

Leaky Condo Syndrome was first reported in the very early nineties, but didn’t get wide media attention until the latter part of the decade. Then for about another ten years varying levels of senior government did little to stop the plundering of families, although outgoing Premier Dosanjh did write to PM Chretien in May, 2001:

Despite my government’s efforts to resolve this horrific human tragedy, many thousands of homeowners continue to struggle. It is my determination that this provincial disaster requires immediate federal attention. I am formally requesting, under Emergency Preparedness Canada, that the federal government intervene with immediate assistance.

After no response from the feds, and following a report released by the Homeowner Protection Office in 2008 estimating that a third of all leaky condos would remain unrepaired after 2012, the provincial government decided to stop all interest-free loans.

More than twenty five years since being first reported, we continue to see many foreclosed properties of those unable to pay their leaky condo assessments, sometimes three or four times larger than the $30k I was personally assessed around 1998. Unfortunately I still get calls from owners in despair, crying, not knowing what to do, and seeking help.

The members of COLCO (the Coalition of Leaky Condo Owners), contributed to a document named the Leaky Rotten Condo List (LRC), which identified strata properties for which more than one report of water ingress was received from owners. Following a recent review by an engineer and the preparation of a depreciation report, one of those local (Tri-cities) LRC properties identified by owners back in 2000 as “leaky”, has received a multi-million dollar assessment; there will still be many more.

Countless strata council members and owners have been in denial since the time that their building was identified as “leaky”, and some were lucky enough to not get caught selling without disclosing what they knew. If you’re considering the purchase of a strata property, “buyer beware” prevails, so do your due diligence, and remember for all intents and purposes that homeowner protection is non-existent in BC.

The Costliest Disaster in Canadian History

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