Seniors, students, and countless other Saskatoon renters began to get evicted from their rental homes in 2007 as Saskatoon's Condo Craze commenced its short-lived mayhem. During this period of out-of-control development, what kind of leadership did Mayor Atchison provide the city?
When the provincial government first offered to help Saskatoon deal with the situation, Mayor Atchison declined.
When Saskatoon’s rental vacancy rate plummeted to 0.6% in late 2007, the city carried on with approving condo conversions.
When urban planning experts sounded the alarm that Saskatoon’s condo conversion policy was not based on any valid research, harmful to citizens, and starving businesses of key workers, the city continued to approve condo conversions.
When city administration warned that it would not be legal in many other Canadian cities to allow tenant evictions the way Saskatoon did, the city still continued to approve condo conversions.
When desperate seniors ran out of options and took the city to court to save their rental homes, the city fought them while still carrying on with approving condo conversions.
In the end, under Atchison's management of this crisis every single condominium conversion was approved while the city unsuccessfully tinkered with various policy revisions. Ultimately, 1700 rental units were taken off the market for conversion.
Today, Saskatoon's condo market is glutted with unsold conversions and prices are depressed. Meanwhile, stories surface of hastily-slapped together conversions crumbling before their new owners' eyes.
Atchison's billboards proclaim that "Experience Counts." For many uprooted renters and burned owners, Atch's leadership on condo conversions has been an experience they count as something hopefully never to be repeated.