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Selected Articles and Information on Leaky Condos in British Columbia

Vancouver Sun: Last Updated: Friday 31 March 2000 TOP STORIES

Heavily edited leaky condo report demands compensation

The Vancouver Sun

Petti Fong Vancouver Sun


Glenn Baglo, Vancouver Sun / DAVE BARRETT: The inquiry commissioner releases his report.

A de-clawed Barrett Commission report into the leaky condo scandal was released Thursday with more than half of its findings missing, held as possible evidence in an RCMP investigation.

The edited-out portions of the report, which was to have focused on finding fault for the leaky condos, left the commission with little new to report, except repeating that immediate compensation was needed.

Under a compensation plan, homeowners would receive a grant for their repair costs of up to $25,000, with 50 per cent of the cost shared above that amount to a maximum of $35,00.

But the blame for the multi-million-dollar problem that has wiped out some homeowners’ life savings and forced others into bankruptcy remains an official mystery.

About 75 of the 143 pages were removed from the commission’s report as possible evidence in an RCMP investigation. It is believed the majority of the edited portion deals with the collapse of the New Home Warranty Program, a non-profit offshoot of the builders’ association.

The commission reported that building code violations were the reasons cited for the failure of the condos. Not one example was brought forward where the faulty building had been built to code.

It is the second such inquiry into B.C.’s condo crisis, in which as many as 50,000 units were found to have structural leakage problems. The first part of the commission’s report was released in February.

The first commission in 1998, also headed by former premier Dave Barrett, called on the federal and provincial governments to provide more than half a billion dollars’ worth of aid to owners.

The provincial government has responded with $22 million in no-interest loans and forgone provincial sales tax on repair bills.

The latest report was originally to have been released on March 10, but the announcement of the RCMP investigation delayed that release until Thursday.

In a written statement, Barrett said a number of serious issues must be addressed to restore confidence in the B.C. housing sector.

Some of the recommendations include:

– A corporation tax with a dedicated revenue amount of $30 million over three years be obtained from financial institutions to fund education of the home protections office.

– Creation of a housing ministry to be responsible for building standards and residential construction.

– Establishment of a legislative select standing committee to annually review all housing issues for the next five years.

– Mandatory minimum education and testing of architects, engineers and registered builders regarding the basics of building science and interpretation of the B.C. Building Code and Vancouver building bylaw.

Commission adviser Peter Leask said immediate compensation is the first priority.

“That’s the most important thing that victims needs that the industry needs and the government should do,” said Leask. “We’ve done what we can about it.”

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