Icicle of doom


icicle The giant, mythical icicle is the embodiment of housing problems in Saskatchewan

The giant icicle in Saskatoon is more than just an icicle – it’s a harbinger of doom.

I was initially unimpressed with the giant icicle. Sure, it was a strange and interesting sight, but it was frozen water in the middle of a Saskatchewan winter. Not something terribly unusual. The Twitter account I discounted as the work of comedic hooligans, the mesmerisation experienced by the national media I wrote off as the result of slow news days and limited knowledge of Saskatchewan winter.

I did not know the full extent to which the giant icicle was a force unto itself until they cut it down … and it came back.

Even as the Saskatoon fire department cut it down on the west side of the city, it re-emerged on the east side with greater strength. In fact, more than one incarnation of the giant icicle has appeared in Saskatoon, clinging to the side of apartment buildings, consuming light fixtures and power lines, and hanging ominously over the residents of the city and the province. This is the stuff of myths and legends. This is a warning to us all.

Of course, coverage of this event has been with quiet awe and mystery. Attempts by Global news to contact the property management company where the second coming of the icicle is occurring were met with lawyers letters warning about drawing too much attention to the icicle, lest interested citizens approach the vengeful ice-being out of curiosity and are struck by falling ice or slip and fall. As always in Saskatchewan, dealing with the issue head-on is way more difficult and uncomfortable than ignoring it indefinitely until it goes away.

But I for one must know what the mystical icicle means, and why it has come to Saskatchewan.

Perhaps it is trying to draw attention to the tendency of landlords in Saskatchewan to ignore maintenance on their properties until it reaches such a point that demolition is the only option. Knowing of the destruction of downtown apartments in Regina, the icicle has arisen to stand as a representation of the unstoppable forces of greed that drive development in Saskatchewan.

Maybe it’s here as the physical incarnation of the trend towards allowing apartments to be “converted” to condos by property owners simply to rent them out at higher prices, or the increasing disappearance of affordable rental units while giant houses and condos are slapped up on the edge of the city well out of the price range of many residents.

Perhaps it has even come to stand in as the immovable force that can impose a sudden and unexpected 77 per cent rent increase that some Regina residents are expecting soon, an increase that will force them out of their homes because foolish civic policy allowed a ridiculous inflation of the market rate for rental housing in both cities.

Whatever the reason for its coming, the icicle has generated discussion and interest, and the issues it might raise warrant some serious discussion. Unfortunately, much like this mythical icicle I suspect meaningful discussion of tenancy in Saskatchewan will melt away with the approach of summer. And any action to fix the problem in the future will, like the puddle left behind, dry up fairly quickly.

Edward Dodd
Op-Ed Editor

Photo illustration by Edward Dodd

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