‘Condo Game’ documentary aims to shine light on the dark side of Toronto’s condo building boom

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A production of award-winning Bountiful Films, The Condo Game was produced by documentary filmmaker Helen Slinger, who also directed the film with Lionel Goddard.

In an interview on the Shaw TV program The Rush, Ms. Slinger said the impetus for the documentary was the series of incidents in the summer of 2011 during which panels on a number of downtown Toronto condo balconies shattered, raining pieces of glass onto city streets. (I reported on many of the falling glass incidents; my August 15 2011 report on one such occurrence, in which a woman suffered minor injuries after glass plunged onto Bay Street, includes links to reports on other instances.)

Ms. Slinger said the spate of balcony panel breakage led many people to start wondering if there could be more problems with the new condo buildings that were rising so rapidly in Toronto and in other Canadian cities. “If this is going wrong, what else is going wrong?”

Admitting that she might sound naïve, Ms Slinger said that when she began working on the documentary, she was shocked to discover just “how much the whole [condo construction] game is about money. It’s about money moving around the world. It’s not about finding housing for you or me. It’s about people making money.

“Of course you know that it’s about investment — everybody is concerned about their investment, to some extent,” Ms. Slinger acknowledged.

But as a narrator states in a promotional trailer for the documentary, “Is the individual condo owner now a mere byproduct of a fast-moving international money market? It’s a high-speed collision of corporate and consumer interests. Could Toronto and its citizens be caught in a game that’s rigged against them?”

And “with some developers putting profit before quality, it’s become a case of ‘buyer beware,'” the narrator declares ominously.

Some of the experts interviewed for the documentary include Toronto City Councillor Adam Vaughan, Toronto’s Chief City Planner Jennifer Keesmaat, Ontario MPP Rosario Marchese, and condo buyers’ agent Charles Hanes.

The full 13 and a half-minute interview with Ms. Slinger on The Rush can be viewed below, while The Condo Game can be seen Thursday evening at 9 p.m. on CBC-TV’s Doc Zone.

 

 

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