Press shot of Samantha with members of Delta Sugar
Press shot of Samantha with members of Delta Sugar

Juno Nominee Wants Mayor To Buck Up On Rental Robbery

Soaring rents are no longer just a Toronto and Vancouver problem and more urbanites, including most musicians, are getting squeezed royally.

The latest survey from rental site Padmapper shows rents jumped by double digits over the past year in 17 of 24 Canadian cities, with some of the country's (previously) most affordable markets seeing the most substantial hikes.

Among the musicians troubled by the escalating cost of accommodations is Juno nominee Samantha Martin and her highly praised 11-piece Delta Sugar blues band. She’s not mumbling about the fact she can’t afford to live in Toronto anymore and instead has written a soulful plea to the city’s mayor, suggesting something needs to done if ordinary folk can be expected to live and work in what is increasingly becoming a roost for the rich and paid-for.

But before we get to Sam’s open letter to Mayor John Tory, posted on her Facebook page, some more facts about the lunacy of rents across Canada, a nation that has an average employee wage of $966.00 a week – or just over $51K a year (before taxes).

Toronto retained its position as the country's most expensive rental market for one-bedroom units, with asking rents rising 11.9 percent in a year, to a median of $2,260. Two-bedroom rents rose 13.1 per cent, to $2,850 per month.

By February, rentals had become more bloated, according to Padmapper, which ranked the top 5 most expensive markets as follows:

  1. Toronto, ON continued to reign as the priciest city with one bedroom rent increasing 0.4% to $2,270, while two bedrooms remained flat at $2,850.

  2. Vancouver, BC saw one bedroom rent drop 2.3% to $2,080, while two bedrooms grew 1.5% to $3,280.

  3. Burnaby, BC stayed 3rd with one bedroom rent remaining stable at $1,570, while two bedrooms fell 1.7% to $2,250.

  4. Montréal, QC one and two bedroom prices both remained flat, settling at medians of $1,500 and $1,780, respectively.

  5. Victoria, BC remained the 5th most expensive city, though one-bedroom rent stayed stable at $1,390. Meanwhile, two bedrooms had a large uplift, growing 5% to $1,670.

And here’s what Samantha wrote:

Dear John Tory City of Toronto - Municipal Government and Toronto Music City

My name is Samantha Martin. I am a full-time musician who runs a band that has anywhere from 7-11 members. I am on a Toronto based record label, I have a Toronto based booking agent, I tour the world, I was recently nominated for a Juno, I have been nominated for 10 Maple Blues Awards in the last 4 years (and) I was awarded Road Gold by Canadian Independent Music Association this year for selling over 25000 tickets in a calendar year.

I work incredibly hard and earn a decent living by any musician's standards. I have incredible landlord references, decent credit, and I am a good tenant - but I can no longer afford to live in this city.

You have been telling the world that you are a big supporter of your music scene, saying that you are a “music city”.

I am begging you to do something about the cost of renting an apartment in Toronto not just for musicians but for students and anyone who earns less than $60,000 a year which Is what you would need to earn in order to be able to live above ground in a decent one bedroom apartment.

Landlords are starting bidding wars leaving people without housing at the last minute with very little recourse.

Slumlords are charging $1800 for illegal basement apartments - AND GETTING IT.

Landlords are evicting tenants who have been living in the units longer than five years to raise the rent to what everyone else is charging. It’s utter chaos for renters fuelled by greed and Airbnb taking up 80% of the rental units in Toronto.

We need rent control.

We need more public housing.

We need more artist co-ops.

We need you to step in quickly. BY NOT STEPPING IN SOONER - you have created a monster.

Yours Truly - and Fed Up With This Situation. 
Samantha Martin.

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