Do You See What I See? Misleading Information From Global News and Kingston’s Mayor

by Ana From Canada on March 3rd 2021

As a community-conscious lifetime resident of Kingston, and renter since 1997, I see local circumstances from the inside. My knowledge of Kingston runs deep, my experiences as a resident run deeper. Because of that, I was personally affected by this article titled ‘Kingston’s vacancy rate rises to 3.2 %, matches provincial average’, published by Global News on January 29th 2021 and written by Alexandra Mazur.

The data in the report is absolutely skewed and wrong. Global News is failing to research and report genuinely or in depth. The CMHC (Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation)  is blatantly dispersing important statistics inaccurately, and Kingston’s Mayor, Bryan Paterson, is using this situation to polish his reputation. 

To be specific, it is this particular claim by Global News that is clawing at my mind:

The real causation for residential vacancies suddenly surging is the

domino effect of the pandemic, not solely owing to

ongoing efforts by City officials. 

Tossing a single unsupported fact about students signing leases pre-pandemic is NOT a credible measure of cause and effect. I quote, ‘Although this change comes the same year as the pandemic, CMHC does not believe the vacancy rate was affected by fewer students returning to Kingston, because most students signed leases before the full impact of the pandemic was realized’ and ‘Mayor Bryan Paterson is counting this as a win for city housing priorities’.

‘[City officials] introduced a number of innovative policies and last year we saw a record amount of new housing construction,” was the sentiment of Mayor Paterson.

Global News failed to consider the following: 

  • The residential renting market rose in January/February of 2021.
  • Some students subletted out months prior to the vacancy spike.
  • Most student housing is short term; ‘student leases’ (if they have leases at all) are August to May with some students committing to annual leases in August or September. 

What do those facts mean? 

CDMC states that ‘students already signed their leases’, but social behaviour highlights that student rental commitments would have ended in May/June, dates that fall outside the 2021 spike. August (or September) of 2020 would have been when new and returning students signed leases for the upcoming school year, but they chose not to relocate locally. Sources from St. Lawrence College have verified that ‘many [students] are attending from outside cities’. 

CTV News recently published an article on this subject pertaining to Vancouver, which states, ‘… the shift to online learning means many students, especially international students, have moved away from campus’. It goes without saying that sources weren’t necessary to add credibility to that statistic – eyes, ears, and common sense are enough. 

To clarify, CMHC and Global News are unreliable sources on this matter, and possibly many other concerning topics. How deep does the well go? And, contrary to their widely trusted statements, the pandemic has affected schools, therefore affecting students, causing rental vacancies to dramatically increase in an inordinate time frame.

What about factors outside of students?

Why have Global News, CMHC, and Mayor Paterson all failed to weigh up additional factors? It isn’t lost on a person of any level of awareness that Paterson, CMHC, and Global News are far wiser than to haphazardly disregard other variables which leaves one to wonder what they have to gain by fluffing up drivers of rental vacancy momentum.

Currently, many people are in financial duress and, when in such states, they make drastic changes for survival. Some of those changes are:

  • Moving in with family to alleviate financial stress.
  • Downgrading living expectations e.g. moving from 3 bedroom to 1 or 2 bedroom accommodation. 
  • Rising homeless circumstances.
  • Moving out of town to more affordable housing.
  • Staying out of town (as previously touched upon with students as an example).

CTV News reported, ‘CMHC’s survey suggests both the overall vacancy rate and the average rent in Vancouver have gone up’.

The vacancy rate has increased to 2.6 per cent, from 1.1 per cent, according to the survey. CMHC says this is due to ‘higher supply and lower demand over the last year’.

Now, let me highlight “lower demand”. 

The same article also notes, ‘Experts suggest some of the changes are due to a large number of young people and others who work in the service industry losing their jobs during the COVID-19 pandemic. They make up a significant portion of the rental market’.

Isn’t it nubilus that the same organization reporting the same statistic with similar variables is feeding readers a completely different cause evaluation? Either way you toss that coin, there’s a lie that’s not well buried. 

But wait, there’s more:

  • Foreclosures on house and building ownership has forced rental residents and owners to relocate.
  • Rising divorce and separation rates (as reported by BBC and Global News).
  • We are in a recession (declared by the C.D Howe Institute Business Cycle Council), but such an important factor is ignored.
  • Investors who bought units for Air BnB have redesigned to encourage long term leasing.
  • Rising death rates due to drug use after many low income persons who struggled with addictions received CERB, or that they are using alone due to isolation mandates.
  • And, immigration numbers have halted.

Without a doubt, that list could rapidly grow with the slightest surface scratch, but I feel that the point is executed.

Finally, if Mayor Paterson truly believes that the rapid boom in Kingston rental vacancies is solely a byproduct of City officials strategies then the threat to maintaining growth is eminent. It is exceedingly vital that ALL defining factors are measured to establish stabilizing groundwork that will prepare the city for the obvious rise. 

Who, what, when, where, and how? 

  • How will the rental rise be maintained when the pandemic is over and the plethora of current factors decline or vanish? 
  • What can we take away and recycle from present causes?
  • Estimating when the increased vacancy will fall is paramount to softening certain abrupt negatives.
  • Where are the blind spots? What are we missing and how can risks be prevented?
  • Who is going to be most impacted?

Those are only a few details that will negatively define the future of Kingston, it’s long term and visiting residents, while Bryan Paterson profits from the current rental growth. Least not the community’s trust in the Mayor’s foresight and dependability. 

Now, I’m not saying that the ‘innovative policies’ and strategic movements around Kingston’s housing tyranny isn’t helping – it would be brow lifting to say that building development rendered zero results. What I am saying is that the article published by Global News shines with a ‘from the outside’ glow and casts shadows of ‘scratch mine and I’ll scratch yours’. The data processed to produce the informative post on the rise in rental vacancies failed to collect very much data and risks misinforming the public. 

Be weary of what you read online: Not everything is true, not everything is a lie, but fragmentary information impairs the reader’s point of view. 

Do you see what I see? 

A Special thank you to Megan Georgia for assistance with final editing. Megan Georgia, Editor in Manchester, UK | Reedsy

The Ten (10) C’s of Quality Business Writing

Ana Clark – Advertising & Marketing Specialist – February 13th, 2021

Creative writing and business writing are not one in the same. Business writing has a set of rules and expectations in and of itself. Getting to the point, below I share with you the ten C’s of quality business writing backed up with credible sources (see citations).

The 10 C’s
1. Complete
2. Concise
3. Clear
4. Concrete
5. Conversational
6. Courteous
7. Correct
8. Coherent
9. Considerate
10. Credible

  • Complete: Provide enough information so that the reader does not have questions. Remember that the reader may not have the same data as you do. Who, What, When, Where, Why, and How provide an excellent foundation to tighten up business writing.
  • Concise: Get to the point with the fewest words possible. Avoid redundant and unnecessary content. Do not waste the reader’s time.
  • Clear: The message needs to make sense to the reader, no interpretation required. What is the point of the document? What action is expected of the reader? Avoid jargon and organize the information in an easy-to-follow pattern. Utilize, “First, Second, Last” to be clear.
  • Concrete: Include specifics, no vague words.  “These [vague words] are called hedges: about, kind of, sort of, -ish (suffix), stuff, things:” (Vague expressions – English Grammar Today – Cambridge Dictionary). Concrete words give exact information and removes doubt or the need to interpret the meaning. Concrete language has an obvious meaning.
  • Conversational: Use a conversational style of writing that is designed for a human being, not a robot. Do not use stiff mechanical or legal terms, but don’t be too informal. Ask yourself, “would I speak this way if I were talking face to face with someone?”
  • Courteous: Use positive tones and from the reader’s viewpoint. Positive words will produce a positive tone. Studies prove that negative words instantly yield hormones that cause stress and anxiety- even if that is not your intent.  (Do words hurt? Brain activation during the processing of pain-related words – ScienceDirect). “Focus on what is or can be rather than what isn’t or can’t be” says Judy Steiner-Williams, senior lecturer at Kelley Business School. Remember, you are writing for the reader and their viewpoint and benefits. Put yourself in the reader position, what does the reader get?
  • Correct: Does the message look professional and polished? Name spelling, mechanics, information, and format are important. Always double and triple check name spelling and gender correctness. Proofread to ensure that mechanics are correct and do not rely on spell and grammar checkers. Common mechanical mistakes are “you/your/you’re”, “then/than” and “it is/it’s/its”. Make sure the information provided is correct and that you are not misinforming the reader. Once you lose your readers trust it will be near to impossible to regain it and “I made a mistake” will not likely save your reputation.  Last, ensure that the format you use is suited to the reader and the medium; be it letter, newspaper, magazine, email, or blog.

  • Coherent: Do all the parts tie together smoothly and make sense? Use transitional words and phrases to connect your ideas. For example: first/second/third, as well as, but, instead, in the event that, or, for example, are great transitional word choices. See Transition Words & Phrases (smart-words.org) for a comprehensive guide to aid your professional business writing. Be aware that the entire message should fit together and make sense to the reader.
  • Considerate: Be inviting and easy to follow. Your reader is busy so make sure that the document is easy to read, emphasizes the main purpose, and follows paragraph protocol. Short paragraphs, clear titles and subtitles, number lists and bullets will make your document easy and pleasant to read. Watch this short video to nail down what a proper paragraph structure looks like, https://www.smrtenglish.com/smrt/cafe?s=paragraph
  • Credible: Once your credibility is harmed you cannot recover your reader’s trust. Implement reliable facts, not opinions, with dependable sources provided in your business writing. Primary sources; questionnaires, surveys, focus groups, and experiments, and secondary sources; books, articles, reports, and academic databases, can be credible stock. Be sure to analyze the credibility of your sources and the date relevancy before trusting them.

And there you have it, the Ten (10) C’s of Business Writing. This is only the tip of your learning iceberg; an introduction. I encourage you to keep learning and practicing your business writing. Below I have listed my credible sources for this article, in it you will find a wonderful LinkedIn Learning course that I highly recommend you watch, learn, and take the provided academic quizzes.

Information sources:

Steiner-Williams, J. (2014, March 2). Business Writing Principles. LinkedIn Learning. https://www.linkedin.com/learning/business-writing-principles?u=56969921

Transition Words & Phrases. (n.d.). Retrieved February 13, 2021, from https://www.smart-words.org/linking-words/transition-words.html

Roberts, M. (2013, July 8). Paragraph Structure (Part 1). Smrt English. https://www.smrtenglish.com/smrt/cafe?s=paragraph

Cambridge Dictionary. (n.d.). Vague Expressions. Retrieved February 13, 2021, from https://dictionary.cambridge.org/grammar/british-grammar/vague-expressions

Elsevier, B. V. (2008, December 19). Do words hurt? Brain activation during the processing of pain-related words. Science Direct. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0304395909004564