Toronto has one of the world's biggest condo markets with hundreds of huge high-rises, but the boom has a darker side for consumers
Photo Credit: CBC

The Condo Game: a documentary wake-up call


Toronto is Canada’s biggest city, and still growing. It also has one of the biggest condo markets anywhere.

But when parts of brand new towers began falling to the streets below, people began to question the rapid pace of new construction.

A new documentary digs into the issue to find out what’s at stake in a film called “The Condo Game”, Although using Toronto as it’s main focus, the film has implications for condo development and certainly for potential buyers, everywhere.  Helen Slinger of Bountiful Films is in Vancouver, where a similar condo boom in the late 80’s and 90’s led to massive subsequent problems which destroyed many people’s savings and ruined many lives.

Helen Slinger of Bountiful Films, Vancouver © Bountiful Films

In The Condo Game, filmmakers Lionel Goddard and Helen Slinger look behind the huge glass and concrete structures to reveal the forces at play in a booming condo market, forces that experts say have helped drive real estate prices 30% higher than they should be.

Some of that is due to sales to investors, foreign and domestic, who snap up almost half the units as a place to park their money.

When the first glass fell off this new downtown condo, people wondered about construction quality, and would would happen 10 or 20 years from now as building age. © Bountiful Films

One of the people interviewed is a major condo broker, Charles Hanes. He says, “The industry is not set up for Joe Average. It’s a commodities play for investors,” He points out how huge condo developments work in favour of developers and investors and against the average homeowner and the city itself.

As developers race to take advantage of a boom, quality of construction can suffer. Some experts advise people to set aside thousands more than the purchase price in preparation for repairs to their brand new condo.

And when condos aren’t well built in the first place, the possibility of major problems multiplies as these giant buildings age. Financial writer Diane Francis says “I think there’s a real problem with these monolithic buildings that are sold to foreigners or to speculators, I think the governance is going to be a nightmare, I think they are potentially going to become slums.”

Without stricter planning, giant condos are built in desirable older downtown streets, knocking down the many small shops and restaurants that made the locations attractive in the first place. © CBC

As a corporate realtor, Cathy Strati knew to ask all the right questions when she was buying her condo, yet she still ended up in a unit rife with issues – like a malfunctioning door lock that sometimes left her trapped inside

The film also speaks to a lawyer specializing in condos who points out sales contracts are so complicated, buyers can’t really be sure they’re promised anything.

Although the condo market is slowing, its still a massive market everywhere.

Helen Slinger says after researching and filming The Condo Game should be a wake up call to cities, and to buyers.

The Condo Game airs in Canada on CBC “Doc Zone” on November 21st, and repeated on the News Net channel on the following Saturday and Sunday.


THE CONDO GAME- Youtube trailer

Posted in Economy, International, Society

Do you want to report an error or a typo? Click here!

@*@ Comments

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

 characters available

Note: By submitting your comments, you acknowledge that Radio Canada International has the right to reproduce, broadcast and publicize those comments or any part thereof in any manner whatsoever. Radio Canada International does not endorse any of the views posted. Your comments will be pre-moderated and published if they meet netiquette guidelines.

Netiquette »

When you express your personal opinion in an online forum, you must be as courteous as if you were speaking with someone face-to-face. Insults and personal attacks will not be tolerated. To disagree with an opinion, an idea or an event is one thing, but to show disrespect for other people is quite another. Great minds don’t always think alike—and that’s precisely what makes online dialogue so interesting and valuable.

Netiquette is the set of rules of conduct governing how you should behave when communicating via the Internet. Before you post a message to a blog or forum, it’s important to read and understand these rules. Otherwise, you may be banned from posting.

  1.’s online forums are not anonymous. Users must register, and give their full name and place of residence, which are displayed alongside each of their comments. reserves the right not to publish comments if there is any doubt as to the identity of their author.
  2. Assuming the identity of another person with intent to mislead or cause harm is a serious infraction that may result in the offender being banned.
  3.’s online forums are open to everyone, without regard to age, ethnic origin, religion, gender or sexual orientation.
  4. Comments that are defamatory, hateful, racist, xenophobic, sexist, or that disparage an ethnic origin, religious affiliation or age group will not be published.
  5. In online speak, writing in ALL CAPS is considered yelling, and may be interpreted as aggressive behaviour, which is unpleasant for the people reading. Any message containing one or more words in all caps (except for initialisms and acronyms) will be rejected, as will any message containing one or more words in bold, italic or underlined characters.
  6. Use of vulgar, obscene or objectionable language is prohibited. Forums are public places and your comments could offend some users. People who use inappropriate language will be banned.
  7. Mutual respect is essential among users. Insulting, threatening or harassing another user is prohibited. You can express your disagreement with an idea without attacking anyone.
  8. Exchanging arguments and opposing views is a key component of healthy debate, but it should not turn into a dialogue or private discussion between two users who address each other without regard for the other participants. Messages of this type will not be posted.
  9. Radio Canada International publishes contents in five languages. The language used in the forums has to be the same as the contents we publish. The usage of other languages, with the exception of some words, is forbidden. Messages that are off-topic will not be published.
  10. Making repetitive posts disrupts the flow of discussions and will not be tolerated.
  11. Adding images or any other type of file to comments is forbidden. Including hyperlinks to other websites is allowed, as long as they comply with netiquette. Radio Canada International  is in no way responsible for the content of such sites, however.
  12. Copying and pasting text written by someone else, even if you credit the author, is unacceptable if that text makes up the majority of your comment.
  13. Posting any type of advertising or call to action, in any form, to Radio Canada International  forums is prohibited.
  14. All comments and other types of content are moderated before publication. Radio Canada International  reserves the right to refuse any comment for publication.
  15. Radio Canada International  reserves the right to close a forum at any time, without notice.
  16. Radio Canada International  reserves the right to amend this code of conduct (netiquette) at any time, without notice.
  17. By participating in its online forums, you allow Radio Canada International to publish your comments on the web for an indefinite time. This also implies that these messages will be indexed by Internet search engines.
  18. Radio Canada International has no obligation to remove your messages from the web if one day you request it. We invite you to carefully consider your comments and the consequences of their posting.