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RSS FeedsHow many condos are sitting empty in Toronto? One man investigated - and what he found surprised him
(The Star Toronto Raptors)


10 november 2019 15:56:48

How many condos are sitting empty in Toronto? One man investigated - and what he found surprised him
(The Star Toronto Raptors)

From the fifth floor of his College and Dovercourt two-bedroom apartment, Jaco Joubert has a spectacular view of the glittering lights of Toronto’s downtown condos. He’s often wondered why so many people struggle to find a decent place to live, with so many shiny new towers and cranes in the sky.That curiosity led him to do his own investigation, training his camera on those very lights. What he found surprised him.“It’s hard to explain why things are the way they are,” said Joubert, a designer, software developer, entrepreneur and city-building enthusiast, who’d heard stories of investors snapping up condos and leaving them empty.“I basically wanted to answer that question.”As a side project on his own time, Joubert set up a camera to watch more than a thousand units in 15 buildings at night, taking photos every five minutes from sunset to sunrise over a week, then repeating the process a few months later. Using heat maps and a custom filter, he overlaid images to get a snapshot of light patterns that he believes are a good measure of whether anyone lives in the unit.His results suggest 5.6 per cent of the units he watched are unoccupied, in the middle of a housing crisis. In West Harbour City, a 36-storey condo tower just west of Bathurst Street, he found 13.5 per cent of units were vacant. It’s analysis that, given the number of condo units in Toronto, could mean that thousands of potential homes are just sitting empty in the sky, as the city continues to study whether a vacant homes tax might incentivize landlords to rent them out.“I think it’s an unreasonable state of affairs, to be honest,” said Joubert of his results.“Some people have such excess that they can have empty units while at the same time our shelter system is overflowing.”Buildings that have been known to have more Airbnb listings, such as the Ice condos, had fewer empty units (only 1.5 and 1.8 per cent), whic ...

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