Council cancels speculative housing program

Lisa Goudy
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Coun. Patrick Boyle explains why he believes the speculative housing program should be cancelled at the April 7, 2014 council meeting at city hall.

A week ago, executive committee voted to keep the speculative housing program as is. At Monday’s council meeting, council cancelled the program unanimously.

“Before this, we didn’t have a chance to talk to anyone in the community about this a little bit more and after doing some of that discussion with them, I think the program has ran its course,” said Coun. Patrick Boyle, who requested the revote on the motion previously moved by Coun. Dawn Luhning at last week’s executive committee meeting.

“Based on what we’re seeing in Saskatoon and Regina, I think this is something we can do away with right now. That doesn’t preclude us from another program coming.”

The program, originally created in 2001, was intended to encourage contractors to purchase residential lots to build new homes. At first the speculative housing program allowed contractors to buy lots with a $1,000 deposit and to have a tax exemption of up to two years or until the dwelling was sold.

As of 2012, the program was changed, allowing a deposit of 10 per cent for a dwelling with a value of more than $280,000 or a deposit of $2,000 for a dwelling with a value less than $280,000.

However, Boyle said, for instance, someone could’ve purchased a lot for $40,000, do nothing for a year and flipped it to increase the value of the lot.

“I think it’s something we can do without for now,” he said. “I just think this has ran its course.”

Coun. Don Mitchell said he would support the motion.

“The program has had some impact, but it’s also been abused,” he said.

At last week’s executive committee meeting, Luhning said the program is unfair because builders could hang onto lots for a low price.

City administration had proposed two amendments to limit the number of lots a contractor could have at any one time to three lots and to have all deposits in the amount of 10 per cent of the purchase price no matter the projected value of the dwelling. That motion was made at executive committee and defeated, as were two other motions.

There was little discussion about the motion to cancel the program at Monday’s council meeting, though. Within about two minutes, the motion was passed.

Follow Lisa Goudy on Twitter @lisagoudy.

Geographic location: Saskatoon, Regina

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