Condo August 2021

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Canada’s Most Widely Read Condominium Magazine

August 2021 • Vol. 36 #3

CHARGING UP Exploring the road to EV-ready condos




TECHNOLOGY Security Gets Smarter | Hack-Free Homes | New Tools for Emergency Preparedness




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Contents TECHNOLOGY 12 What's New in Access Control? By Norbert Artur

14 Old Condos Can Learn New Tricks By Brian Bosscher



21 Lessons From the Rubble

22 Charging Up

18 In Safe Hands

By David Taub

By Rebecca Melnyk

By Rebecca Melnyk

35 Digitalizing Emergency Preparedness By Rebecca Gicante

32 Supporting Residents Struggling with Mental Illness By Lisa Feldstein and Tess Chambers



28 A Board’s Guide to Fixing “People Problems”

37 Tech-Ready Communities Strengthen Social Connections

By Pat Crosscombe

By Mo Killu

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Editor's Note


Ask the Expert


New & Notable

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Associate Publisher Bryan Chong

New Roads

Editor Rebecca Melnyk

In the 1990s, my friend’s dad drove around town (Guelph, Ontario) in his electric car. Back then, it seemed like such a novel way to get from one place to another. Even now, in the midst of government commitments to speed up adoption of EVs, it still seems so new, but with more gradual purchases. A recent study by KPMG found almost 70 per cent of Canadians are now thinking of zero-emissions vehicles for their next automobile. Yet many are uncertain how this will hold up against a backdrop of weak charging infrastructure. According to Statistics Canada, 2.4 per cent of new cars in Toronto were zero emission last year compared to 12 to 17 per cent in Vancouver. In Toronto, there are currently less than 1,000 public charging ports. Plans are to rev this number up to 10,000 by 2030. Vancouver, meanwhile, is aiming to put a fast-charging station within a 10-minute drive of all its residents by the end of 2021. To make power accessible, condo residents who are thinking of owning an EV are naturally inquiring about charging infrastructure within their own buildings. We share some industry perspectives on this topic in a feature on page 22. From there, our spotlight on technology jumps to smart home tech. We look at innovations coming to a new condo development in Etobicoke that will support remote caregiving and make safety more accessible, while our Ask the Expert column digs more into the security and privacy threats. We also look at modernizing older condos, trends in access control and the “whys and hows” of going digital when it comes to emergency preparedness. There’s much more, including a piece on the condo collapse in Florida and the possibility of something similar happening here. The loss from this devastating event is being felt across condo communities in North America. Our hearts go out to all those who lost loved ones, including some Canadian citizens.

Advertising Sales Bryan Chong Kelly Nicholls Blair Wilson Senior Designer Annette Carlucci Production Manager Rachel Selbie Contributing Writers Norbert Artur, Brian Bosscher, Tess Chambers, Pat Crosscombe, Lisa Feldstein, Rebecca Gicante, Mo Killu, David Taub, Bryan Zarnett Digital Media Director Steven Chester Subscription Rates Canada: 1 year, $60*; 2 years, $110* Single Copy Sales: Canada: $10*. Elsewhere: $12 USA: $85 International: $110 *Plus applicable taxes Reprints: Requests for permission to reprint any portion of this magazine should be sent to Circulation Department Rob Osiecki (416) 512-8186 ext. 234 CONDOBUSINESS is published six times a year by

President Kevin Brown Director & Group Publisher Sean Foley Accounting Anna Kantor 2001 Sheppard Avenue East Suite 500 | Toronto, Ontario M2J 4Z8 (416) 512-8186 Fax: (416) 512-8344 e-mail: CONDOBUSINESS welcomes letters but accepts no responsibility for unsolicited manuscripts or photographs. Canadian Publications Mail Product Sales Agreement No. 40063056 ISSN 0849-6714 All contents copyright MediaEdge Communications Inc. Printed in Canada on recycled paper.

Rebecca Melnyk Editor, CondoBusiness

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Home Smarts T he new crop of condos head ing sky ward are more connected than their predecessors. Technology, found in a condo unit or off ice, is creating a much smarter environment, with devices accessible from any where. Cybersecurit y ex per t Bryan Zarnett, managing director of security consulting at Cytelligence, answers the question: What security and privacy threats should condo communities watch out for due to the rise of internet-connected smart home devices?

8 CONDOBUSINESS | Part of the REMI Network


Smart environments have been around for several decades. Technology used to control microwaves, fridges and lights, has been emerging and proliferating since the ’ 9 0 s. I remember then being able to hack a microwave using a software development platform called micro-java. Yes, I was successful and was very proud of my accomplishment. My name flashed on the screen whenever the timer ended. What Is A Smart Environment? A smart environment is a location (house, office, condo) in which technology is implemented into the building's structures to provide automation, monitoring and convenience. T he technolog y c an include mechanisms that monitor and control HVAC, security, temperature, fire suppression systems, lighting, window treatment, appliances and personal assistants. From a security perspective, let’s break down a smart environment into two blocks: buildings and residents. Each block has their own technology, expectations, complexities, privacy concerns and connectivity practices. Resid ent s are c onc er ne d p r im ar il y w ith a p p li anc es, personal assistants and personally operated technology that operates from their personal WIFI and network access. In most circumstances, network connectivity is separate from that of the building. Tenant systems frequently have greater access to personal information, including access to computer systems and printers that are part of the home network. B u il d i n g s a re c o n c e r n e d w i t h l a rg e - s c a l e s y s te m s , including access control, environmental systems, security and employee management. The systems are frequently larger, more expensive and updated less frequently than tenant- based systems, thus decreasing the potential for securit y concerns to be addressed in a timely fashion. Building systems are frequently considered more accessible by the professional criminal due to their age and lack of security measures. Four Preventive Measures The type of threats and common problems associated with smart environments have not changed throughout the years. What has changed is the degree of awareness in owners and the proliferation of the technology, both which lead to a greater opportunity for attack. Unfortunately, as we see an increase in smart technology use, the fundamental practices associated with smart technology security have not changed or improved. Consider the following:


Close The Points Of Access. Points of access include net work access p or ts (the holes in the wall for network cables) as well as wireless access points. Professional criminals will sur vey a building for different ways in which they can physically access a technology structure. The greater the number of access points, the greater the opportunity of success. Buildings and residents sh o ul d p rov i d e W I FI a c c es s to au th o r ize d in d i v idu als only, with guest access being restricted to the Internet. In addition, buildings should be aware of what access ports are in use, disconnecting any that are not operational and physic ally reviewing por ts on a frequent basis for unauthorized devices. These devices can be as small as a USB key.


Update Your Technology. Smar t technology has a lot of moving par ts, even within some of the smaller bundles. It is important that every component of that technology bundle be updated consistently and replaced prior to being categorized as “end of life.” Unpatched and unsuppor ted technolog y are t wo of the most common problems in smar t environments and a leading cause of exploitation. For example, an HVAC system running Windows 7 can be exploited to permanently disable environmental controls, change settings or gain access to other systems. This is done by taking advantage of a vulnerability in an unpatched HVAC system or the associated operating system.


Organize Your Technology Into Segments. Segmentation is a term in security, which essentially means to break into small groups. Think of it as disease control. By creating small, isolated groups we reduce the risk of one group being affected by the problems of another group. For example, if your HVAC system is affected by a hacker, the hacker does not have the ability to exploit the security or lighting system. Segmentation occurs through net work controls such as firewalls and routers and creates boundaries around technology addresses, creating closed communities. While operational teams can still access each technology, the technologies themselves are organized so they are unaware of each other, or access is permitted through small and wellcontrolled access points. Buildings can create large groupings such as environmental, securit y, elevators or smaller groupings such as HVAC, lighting, fire suppression systems, elevator, | August 2021 9


“Building systems are frequently considered more accessible by the professional

criminal due to their age and lack of security measures.” CONSULTING ENGINEERS

door systems, camera systems, etc. Residents, at a minimum, should segment their computers for home and work from other technology.


Add A Firewall. Firewalls are the foundation to security. They are the digital walls that protect your castle and reduce the opportunity for an attack to be successful. Firewalls are established to limit what services are available, where they can be accessed from and even who can access it. In addition, firewalls allow you to review and address potential attempts to gain access to different parts of your environment. Be Sensible. Not Paranoid It’s hard to avoid smart technologies. Technology that monitors and alerts us is part of everything from microwaves and dishwashers to air conditioning units, T Vs and cameras. We can see who is at our front door through our phone and get alerts when the dr yer turns off. What is important is to be sensible versus paranoid. K now what is connected in your environment. Keep your environment updated and invest in a little bit of time to protect your home from outside threats. 1


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Bryan Zarnett is managing director of security consulting at Cytelligence, a leading international cyber security boutique based in Toronto. Bryan has been a passionate and active member of the IT community since the late 1980s offering thought-leadership, coaching and consulting in the areas of computer security, software architecture, design and development, in addition to methodology implementation. Bryan has worked in a variety of industries including law enforcement, financial, manufacturing and legal.

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Contact your Rogers representative to order now: For consumer and general inquiries, please call 1-888-764-3771 For developer and builder inquiries, please visit 1 For direct dialled conversations/voice messages to local Canadian numbers only, based on a total of 44,650 minutes/mo. Taxes extra. Existing Rogers Home Phone customers who subscribe to a Rogers Ignite bundle must switch to the Ignite Home Phone service (activation optional) and their existing home phone service will no longer be available. Ignite Home Phone operates with the Ignite WiFi Gateway modem with no battery back-up. In the event of a power or network outage/disconnection, Ignite Home Phone service will not be available and you will not be able to make any voice calls, including Emergency 9-1-1 calls. Certain features not available with Ignite Home Phone service, including TV call display, distinctive ring, auto connect, foreign exchanges and multiple lines. Chat lines, data, fax and/or long-distance calls made using call forwarding and three-way calling features are prohibited. ™Trademarks of or used under license from Rogers Communications Inc. or an affiliate. ©2021

What’s New in Access Control? The events of the past year


increased an already existing demand for comprehensive and efficient access control systems. As more individuals began working from home, many permanently, there was more activity in neighbourhoods, increased deliveries, and a greater need for residents to protect their work and personal assets. Beyond basic security, many condo corporations are searching for solutions to ensure resident health safety, as well as systems designed to be streamlined and as contactless as possible. Security, efficiency, and hygiene have been the focus of the past year, and some of these functionalities are here to stay.

Managing access with mobile devices One of the biggest trends in the multi-unit residential market is using mobile devices to manage access. Pre-pandemic, residents were taking their building security into their own hands. This functionality proved to be particularly convenient, as pandemic restrictions meant fewer onsite

12 CONDOBUSINESS | Part of the REMI Network

staff. With a mobile app, comes the flexibility to manage access to condo buildings, private living spaces, and shared common areas. For larger condos and mixed-use buildings this solves a major pain point — offering a security solution accessible for both residents and facility staff use.


Application-based access control is an ideal solution for managing access in highend luxury apartments as well, where there are onsite pools, gyms, and other amenities. Residents can use their mobile device to manage access into a lobby and elevator as well as their own living spaces. Another benefit of mobile management is the ability to provide a seamless process for delivered packages, grocery drop-offs, or takeout delivery. In a building with a separate room for mail deliveries, a resident can respond directly from their mobile device and grant the mail person entry into the lobby and then into the mailroom, after confirming identity. The same applies for any grocery, food, and dry-cleaning deliveries — adding an extra level of safety in a time where the use of delivery services has increased. While mobile-based management offers streamlined and flexible access control, it’s not without challenges. Older demographics may be less familiar with using smartphonebased applications. As such, it’s best to start a conversation today, as it’s only a matter of time before outdated technologies are phased out. As mobile solutions continue to grow in

popularity, most everyone will manage access from their smartphones. Using video for visual identification, as well as audio communication Audio communication systems used to consist of a simple telephone or intercom system. However, today’s requirements include a full-service system, one that combines audio with video communication and visual verification. It’s not enough to hear a person through an intercom, to simply swipe a card, or to press a button. Owners and management want the capability to visually confirm that the person requesting access is who they say they are. Another layer of communication, especially with the mobile app, allows residents to see who is requesting access directly from their smartphone. Enhanced security and a touchless entry system The pandemic boosted interest in contactless and touchless solutions, including mobile credentials, sensors, and biometrics. A touchless sensor can be integrated with an access control system to detect motion

within a preset range and be activated with a simple hand gesture. In a condo where key cards aren’t used, a sensor could be used to gain access to a lobby or shared common space. An individual can simply approach the sensor field to trigger a signal to communicate to the front desk. This handsoff approach is a capability that is increasingly popular, especially since more people are working from home. Touch-free functionality is also a bonus for facilitating deliveries of packages, groceries, or food, especially in situations where a person might have their hands full. Over the last two years, homes have become much more than a living space; they are gyms, schools, workspaces, and more. Whether it’s protecting work assets, communicating with a delivery driver or leaving for a vacation knowing the home is protected, security remains as important as ever. 1 Norbert Artur is the director of sales - Canada at Aiphone Corporation, a manufacturer of security access control and video intercom systems.


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Old Condos Can Learn New Tricks They don’t build condominiums like they used to. Anyone who lives


in a residential building that is two or three decades old will undoubtedly agree. While shiny new buildings are going up in virtually every city across Ontario, these sleek structures don’t compare to more mature condos. From the thoughtful architecture to the durable finishes to the generously sized units, older condo buildings are true gems.

14 CONDOBUSINESS | Part of the REMI Network


Not only do older condos have more space, they tend to have a stronger sense of community. Owners who live in these buildings know what’s out there, and they’re not eager to give up their large suite for something small and manufactured, even if a new unit would offer more modern comforts. As a result, you may have residents who have been a part of a condo community for ten or more years. People like their neighbours, and they even talk to them from time to time. But, as appealing as old buildings are, they do present some unique challenges for residents. Often, these aging developments hang on to old processes. Owners, for example, only have the option to pay fees with cheques or cash. Conversations between the landlord or manager and residents are carried out in person. It’s nice to be able to connect with the person in charge, but at the same time, it’s easy to forget what was discussed. Repairs may take longer than they should as a result. Packages are another big issue. Boxes from Amazon or Chefs Plate are dropped onto the lobby floor, which is often unattended and easily accessible to anyone walking by. Items are left exposed and vulnerable, and owners who are tired of getting their things stolen may have to redirect packages to a dedicated parcel delivery store. These issues are frustrating for both managers and residents, but the good news is they don’t need to be permanent problems. Moreover, mature buildings do not need to undergo a complete makeover in order to become more modern; that is an expensive and lengthy process that few communities want to take on. Instead, boards or managers may consider modernizing their building using simple and affordable technological solutions. These modest upgrades will make owners happier, and add new life to the building. Online payments People of all ages can confidently use online banking today. It’s quick, convenient, and safe, and most appreciate that they can manage their finances from home. Cheques are the opposite of convenient. Yet, many condos, old and new, still ask owners to cover amenity deposits or condo fees using this dated payment method. It’s a slow process to get the money from the owner to the corporation’s bank account, and one that requires in-person interactions. Management is encouraged to explore online payment options such as electronic funds transfer, credit card, or debit. They can speak with the corporation’s bank about enabling these types of payment options, and consider involving fintech companies like RentMoola or Rotessa. These companies have lots of experience working with condos, and are happy to walk curious corporations through the online payment process. Once the new system is in place, management will need to share a “how-to” guide with all residents. It might take more than one message to get residents set up, but the end results will be well worth the initial work. Residents’ portal or condo management software Sending out those online payment instructions will be a lot easier if communication can be done digitally. Printing and distributing notices takes up additional time and money, and owners who don’t live on the premises may not receive communications in time. A residents’ portal

or software system with a space dedicated to residents makes it much simpler for people to stay connected and up-to-date. Residents can also submit service requests online, giving management a better way to track and resolve issues. Once they have their account set up, residents can view policies, notices, updates, and anything else management needs to share with them from their phone or computer. Some systems will even allow management to send text or automated voice messages to residents if they prefer to get information through either of those channels. Wifi in common areas Most Ontarians living in urban dwellings take internet access for granted, but there is a small minority of residents that struggle to get online. According to a 2021 report called Mapping Toronto’s Digital Divide, 38 per cent of Toronto households don’t have internet that is up to speed with Canada’s 50 megabits per second download target, and 2 per cent do not have access to home internet at all. Cost was the main reason why people could not access good service. One way to help owners, especially those who may be on a fixed income, is to provide free wifi in common areas. There may be concerns that owners will abuse this service and stop paying


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for their own internet, but the truth is that almost never happens. Instead, making wifi available to those who need it most will help them feel more connected, and remove barriers that make it hard for them to book appointments, order essential items and stay in touch with friends and family. Furthermore, this small addition may encourage more social interactions by bringing people out of their units. Plus, this makes it easier for all residents to use any online services offered by the corporation.

LED lights use anywhere from 25 per cent — 80 per cent less energy than traditional bulbs, which means lower energy bills and fewer bulb purchases. Installing motion sensor lighting can also have a positive impact on energy savings. This type of lighting system is great for shared amenity spaces, like gyms or game rooms, that have a low occupancy rate in the morning and at night. The corporation will need to schedule a lighting audit to determine the most energyefficient solutions. If management plans to make changes to unit lighting, it’s best to consult with owners before any concrete plans are made. Outline the cost-saving benefits, and give them a timeline so they understand how long the project will take.

Lighting You’ll be surprised what a difference good lighting can make. A lighting retrofit is simply an upgrade made to light fixtures or lamps, and this upgrade will automatically make the building look better. Upgrading the source of light is equally Parcel lockers important because it can lead to noticeable Full disclosure, this last tech upgrade is cost savings in addition to changing up on the pricey side. But, for buildings that the feel of the building. Swap traditional don’t have concierge (and even those that incandescent light bulbs with energy- do), parcel lockers are a game changer. efficient LED bulbs. While those clear The safety and convenience parcel lockers bulbs are cheaper to buy, they also have offer to residents is invaluable, and since DelProperty_Condo_March_2018_torevise.pdf 2018-04-13 the worst energy efficiency on the market. online1 shopping will 2:44 only PMbecome more











16 CONDOBUSINESS | Part of the REMI Network


popular, corporations cannot expect the parcel pileups to go away. A small locker might start at $10,000, while a large locker will cost about $25,000. It’s not a cheap upgrade, but if there is room, make the investment. If necessary, management can even charge a modest monthly fee to owners that want to use the locker system. Using tech to automate and simplify processes for an older condo building is not a fad. It’s a way to modernize without asking owners to make big, uncomfortable changes. Old buildings can learn new tricks, and owners will reap the rewards when an established condo community welcomes new additions and features. 1 Brian Bosscher is the president and founder of Condo Control, a leading software c o m p any th at p rovid es we b - b ase d communication, management and security solutions for condos and HOAs of all sizes. He is also a board member, having served more than 12 years as both treasurer and president. He can be reached at

December 1 - 3, 2021 Metro Toronto Convention Centre



A view from the Buckingham lobby

In Safe Hands Smart home technology connects remote caregivers and opens new doors for security at Grand Central Mimico's upcoming condo development.

The newest condos-to-be f launt

amenities like pet spas, yoga rooms and libraries — perks that future resident’s look forward to. But


what is sometimes missing from the list of niceties are technologies that respond to crucial issues like safety and security.

As society ushers in an era of smart home technology that is more adaptable and efficient, some developers are pushing this to the top of a pile of conveniences—for owners aging in place or buyers looking for extra protection from building emergencies or unwanted visitors. One of them is Vandyk Properties. As the first private developer to have signed a binding agreement with Metrolinx for a transitoriented community in Ontario, the city builder is bringing an integrated home technology system to its Buckingham condos.

The trio of towers will span 1.85 million square feet in the upcoming Grand Central Mimico mixed-use community in South Etobicoke. Every suite will have a wall pad and smartphone app that owners can control from anywhere. The whole intent of the wall pad is that it’s accessible, whether that means controlling the temperature within a suite or calling for elevator access in the morning. Owners can also load the wall pad set-up onto any smart device as an app.

18 CONDOBUSINESS | Part of the REMI Network

Remote Caregiving When it comes to remote caregiving, the technology may be a most important amenity as it creates a family support service for elderly purchasers. For instance, parents can give access to their children to monitor and assist with any heating or cooling issues, or to make sure doors are locked. Domenic Zita, executive vice president and managing director of operations at Vandyk Properties, says children unable to contact their parents can actually see if they left their suite; the technology records residents


entering and exiting. Remote caregivers, with access, are immediately alerted to potentially larger emergencies like faulty smoke detectors or water leaks. On the flipside, investors can remotely monitor what is happening from within their unit, as well. Sometimes, tenants aren’t always cognizant of reporting problems in a timely manner. “The biggest issue most people find is they have a leak and don’t know they have a leak,” Zita points out. “The technology can implement leak detection in all the devices where you would detect a leak as it begins, as opposed to one that is hidden and all of a sudden there is damage.” The Magic Touch Before the pandemic, the developer envisioned a touchless suite entry system for the design, where owners use their smartphones to gain access from the condo’s exterior all the way through to their units. “What we’ve all gone through this last year — avoiding shaking hands and touching

things — the actual suite entry door system is moving in that direction where you’re not physically touching a handle to get in,” Zita adds. “To us, it's one of the most important factors of the technology.” As it eliminates the need for keys, owners who forget to lock their suite doors can do so from their cars in the parking garage. Investors renting out a unit can also assign access to this lock without worrying about retrieving keys from a tenant. Conveniences like this bring in question the possibility of unit break-ins. As Zita explains, the system is fully secured. “The platform is designed so that it is no different than secured banking softwares,” he says. “There are measures put in place and many security backchecks that prevent someone from hacking into the system.” Identifying Trespassers Owners can also monitor who is contacting them for permission into the condo, as there are known cases where trespassers will ring various units until someone lets them inside. The software sends a visual record of anyone ringing for access. “It’s one way so the person in the lobby contacting you can't see you, but you can see them,” says Zita. “From a security level, the system helps promote fully integrated security through the whole development.” The technology also reads the license plates of vehicles belonging to owners or

their visitors registered in the system. Driving up, rather than pressing a button and a security guard opens the gate, the system connects a license plate to a unit number and allows the driver into the selected parking area, which also helps track security threats. A Local Feel As part of the whole program integrated software, retail vendors within the buildings or surrounding community can connect into the app. “A homeowner doesn't have to search the internet to find the closest shoe repair or pizza place,” Zita adds. “They have this instant connection.” The idea is that it glues together a very mixed-use community and creates a local feel. Condo dwellers use the app to reach restaurants and services and receive critical building notices, classified ads and amenity bookings. In a way, it builds social connections, which, in turn, is another form of security. As the first phase of the Grand Central Mimico development, The Buckingham is currently under construction and already sold out. The towers, all ranging in height, connect together through the podium, with 20,000 square feet of retail space, to be anchored by an urban grocery store, restaurants and about 30,000 square feet of office space. Kohn Partnership Architects is the designer, with Figure3 as the interior design partner. 1 | August 2021 19

Lessons From The Rubble

20 CONDOBUSINESS | Part of the REMI Network


Following the horrific collapse

of the 12-storey Champlain Towers South


condominium in Surfside, Florida, people have been speculating whether such a disaster could happen in Canada.

While we don’t know exactly what caused the collapse, we know the following: in 2018, the board of directors received an engineering report finding “major structural damage” to the building, which would require timely and expensive repairs. The repor t did not warn of imminent collapse, but stated that the repairs would be directed at “maintaining the structural integrity” of the building. At the time of the collapse, these repairs had not yet been completed. How would this scenario unfold in Ontario? Leaving aside the construction process itself, there are vast differences between Ontario and Florida condominium laws that would have given the Champlain Towers significant added protections following registration. The 2018 Champlain Towers inspection was conducted because of its county. Miami-Dade requires high-rise towers to be inspected after they reach 40 years of age. Only one other county in Florida (Broward County) requires any inspection after a building is constructed. By contrast, Ontario law is far more engaged and inter ventionist. Here, condominiums must establish and maintain a reserve fund, which must be used only for the purpose of major repairs and replacement of the common elements and assets of the condominium. These parts of the condominium complex belong to all owners and generally include everything other than the individual units where people reside. The size of the condominium reserve fund is determined based upon a reserve fund study, which is also mandated by law, to establish the building’s current status and to forecast when repairs will

be required. The initial reser ve fund study must be completed within a year following registration of the condominium corporation. So right there, the first Ontario building study must be conducted 39 years earlier than the first inspection was required in Surfside. Of course, hopefully after one year, there will be no required repairs. Thereafter, the reserve fund study must be updated every three years, giving ownership a moving picture of the state of repairs and the rate at which building systems are deteriorating. If a similar regime existed in Florida, the Champlain Towers board could have identified their maintenance issues at an earlier date. The structural damage would be smaller and less extensive at the time of discovery and there would have been an existing fund to pay for some or all of the required repairs. The trade-off that exists between the different legal regimes is that the cost of condominium ownership at Sur fside and throughout Florida would have been higher if Florida law had reserve fund requirements. Such reserve fund requirements compel unit-owners to pay for reserve fund studies and make regular contributions to the reserve fund. In the absence of any reserve fund, the cost of the repairs, according to The Washington Post, would have cost the Champlain Towers’ unit-owners anywhere from $80,000 to $200,000, depending on the size of their unit. Some of the lower-priced units had recently sold for about $600,000. For some, the cost of a condominium would have been put out of reach. Ontario forces condominiums to invest in safety measures which will not always be necessary.

However, there is a price for safety. A second difference between Ontario and Florida condominium law is in the treatment of condominium directors. In Ontario and Florida, residential condo directors are selected among the condo corporation’s unit owners. The board is then responsible for hundreds of thousands or millions of dollars in operating and overseeing the management of the condominium. Several years ago, Ontario recognized the need to ensure that these directors receive formal training to learn how to carry out their duties. Mandatory director education is now required within six months of a director’s appointment, failing which they are disqualified. The training is available online and one key area covered is “Maintaining the Condominium’s Physical Integrity”. There are also training modules for contract procurement processes—for both major and minor contracts. These condominium director education materials are relatively short and will not turn new board members into instant experts on all aspects of governance including maintenance. But it helps. Many things had to go wrong for a building to collapse. If the law is followed, the legal protections in Ontario significantly reduce the likelihood of this tragic event occurring here. 1 David Taub is a partner at Robins Appleby LLP. He has extensive experience in business litigation where he represents developers and builders, lenders, banks, insurance companies, entrepreneurial developers and builders, manufacturers, and commercial landlords. | August 2021 21


CHARGING UP Industry explores the road to EV-ready condos amid federal intention to accelerate zero-emissions adoption. BY REBECCA MELNYK

22 CONDOBUSINESS | Part of the REMI Network



As the country moves to accelerate electric vehicle adoption and ban new gas-powered car sales by 2035, questions are brewing among people living in multi-unit dwellings when it comes to installing infrastructure in parkades, costs allocated to owners, and anticipating power needs. A well-known hurdle, particularly in aging condos, is limited electrical capacity. Rob Detta Colli, manager of energy and sustainability with Crossbridge Condominium Services, sees the main challenge in older buildings being a board coming to realize that no building has the electrical capacity from a utility to allow a charger in every parking spot. “This forces the board down the path of having to consider a compromise solution, which will naturally not satisfy everyone who lives in that building,” he says. At the same time, he doesn’t see a technological barrier to charging. “There are a few good solutions available to outfit most condos with roughly 20 vehicles,” he says. “In the average 200-unit building, that’s 10 per cent of the parking stalls, which is much larger than the current sales rate of less than two per cent BEV and plug-in hybrid in Ontario.” A few years ago, EV chargers were installed at The Palace Pier, a 42-year-old condo in Toronto. Back then, the board conducted a technical review, installed a costing system, sent out a survey to anticipate demand, and converted two visitor parking stalls to accommodate communal chargers. “At the time, we estimated that we might have 10 or 12 electric vehicles in the building within the next few years,” says Board Secretary Thelma Beam. “But that was pre-pandemic.” The condo still has just a few EVs, but with changes to the Condo Act, the board is expecting more requests for chargers in parking spaces once people start buying cars again post-pandemic. Neil Denney, executive vice-president of InLight, a lighting retrofit and EV-charger installation company, says condo corporations will need more future-forward thinking because the amount of power required in the next decade will be vastly different than what is

required in the short term. For now, most garages can likely manage 40 EVs with some aggressive sharing, adds Detta Colli. “You’d have to show the owners of the condo that aggressive sharing will work; you’d have to show them when the chargers are being used and how much they are being used,” he says. “With that, the board should be OK with going from 20 to 40 quite easily.” Potential Roadblocks Amendments to the Condo Act in May 2018 removed legal barriers for corporations wanting to install EV-charging systems and for owners wishing to gain board approval themselves. These regulations removed some red tape. Still, retrofitting charging infrastructure into existing condos remains a challenge, says Beam, who has reservations about future retrofits her condo will require to meet demand. While energy retrofits created extra electrical capacity in her condo as a result of lower consumption— capacity that can now be used for other things like EV chargers—she says in order to distribute this power from the electrical panel to faraway parking spots there will need to be adequate infrastructure, which could be costly. “If somebody comes in and says, I want to put an EV charger in my parking spot, we can give it to them and a few more people and then we’re done,” she says. “Then, it's going to cost us about a quarter of a million dollars to put in this other infrastructure to distribute the electricity to everyone else who might need it.” Developers of new condos are roughing-in conduits, leaving a pathway for future wiring that will ultimately save time and money

1893 - The first EV in Canada makes its debut in Toronto.

24 CONDOBUSINESS | Part of the REMI Network

Transportation accounts for 25 per cent of total greenhouse gas emissions in Canada.


There are more than 6,000 publically accessible charging stations across Canada, compared with approximately 12,000 gas stations.

when EV demand rises. Older buildings will need to start from scratch. Laura Bryson, COO and co-founder of EV-charging company SWTCH Energy, says in aging buildings, electrical capacity may be limited and installation may also require bringing power up or down a level, which can be expensive. As she explains, “where possible, it is ideal to locate the EV-charging stations in parking spaces close to the electrical room to reduce material and construction requirements, or install a panel in a central location that limits costs for individual owners to have a charger installed in their private parking spots.” New Technology Paving the Road Forward New technology is helping to address some concerns older condos are facing. Long-term solutions include open standards and dynamic load management. As Bryson explains, Open Charge Point Protocol (OCPP) is the global open communication standard for EV charging and is similar to buying an unlocked cell phone where users can select a service provider. “The same goes for EV-charging

stations,” she says. If you're unhappy with the service, or network management fees increase, OCPP ensures you’re free to switch to another service provider without risking your hardware investment.” Dynamic load management involves charging stations talking to each other in real-time to share available electrical capacity. “This helps minimize infrastructure costs upfront and over the long-term as more charging stations are added to the system,” she notes. It’s an approach being used in New Times Square, a 20-yearold, 375-unit condo in Toronto, which faced notable capacity constraints. An in-depth case study reveals how the condo used network management to install 14 private chargers and prepare for scaling EVs. Ultimately, capacity was increased to support 32 to 40 chargers in a load-managed layout. Automatic energy and billing will also allow the condo to recoup energy costs from EV owners. Bryson also notes that it’s more common to find Level 2 chargers in condos. Each station, at full output, requires the same volt circuit as a washer and dryer. “Level 2 is considered the sweet spot for multi-family buildings because it satisfies charging requirements for plug-in hybrid and battery electric vehicles cost-effectively,” she | August 2021 25


“The rate of EV sales is likely

to go up, but it will take time to replace the fleet that is out there now.” says. “DC fast-charging (or Level 3) is much more expensive and makes sense for public settings along highways or in retail locations where EV owners need a quick charge to finish their journey.” Scanning Ahead When planning long-term for EVs, legal documents should be detailed and thorough. If not, Beam says there is nothing stopping owners from putting in any system they desire, which doesn’t help link all the cars together if demand ramps up. She recommends implementing a system that will share the electricity. As she explains, corporations should have an Electric Vehicle Supply Equipment (EVSE) Agreement, which should include some of the following: indicate the intended use of the installed units; recognize that the corporation has full control over the final configuration of the system; indicate that the corporation has the right to modify any portion of the system in order to facilitate the installation of additional units; and affirm that the corporation owns the electrical junction box, as well as all associated conduit, pull boxes and cabling. It should also make clear who is responsible for costs and that the job be conducted by a licensed electrician. For condos anticipating EV-charging infrastructure, Detta Colli says each board of directors should consider their options before a request comes in, as they will need to reply within a legislated 60-day period. “Once they get a request, the regulations start the clock and they have only so many days to formally respond,” he says. An electrician will need to verify the loads in the building by scanning bills and inspecting the main electrical panel. It is then recommended to gather quotes from a few EV contractors who should be able to clarify all the costs associated with short, medium, and long-term needs. Rebate Debate Despite Canada’s mandatory target of 100 per cent zero-emission light-duty vehicle sales in a little over a decade, a lack of available government funding remains an ongoing obstacle. As Detta Colli says, “there is a perception that there are many incentives out there for EV infrastructure.” The only one that exists, at least in Ontario, is the multi-phase Zero-Emission Vehicle Infrastructure Program (ZEVIP), which he finds many contractors have over-hyped, despite its not being a great fit for condos. The program requires a minimum of 20 chargers to be working by a certain deadline. “Boards can commit to installing the infrastructure for the chargers, but they can’t commit to the individual charging stations being up and running by that date,” he says. “Some condos looked at making a joint application, but it got confusing quickly, so they dropped it.”

26 CONDOBUSINESS | Part of the REMI Network

The Liberal government promised $280 million for this program over five-years ending in 2024. Denney says it may sound like a lot of money, but although it's a start, the funds are unpredictable and likely won’t be enough to support the government’s ambitious greenhouse gas reduction targets. “They made it very difficult on stakeholders and it's obvious they are underresourced to deal with all the applications they are getting,” he says. “It’s not as user friendly as other energy rebates.” After a previous round, he was told his company was among the 75 per cent that didn’t receive funding. That was after several months of waiting to hear back. A RFP that was focused on EV charging in the multi-residential sector closed June 22. Another round is expected to be renewed next year, with a proposed deadline of May, 2022. In other rounds, third-party delivery agents—local governments and not-for-profits— could also receive up to $2 million for end users, and many people are looking to get funding through these streams. The Chicken and the Egg Apart from few available incentives is the reality that more zeroemissions vehicles are coming. Condos will have to plan for a future where internal combustion engines are passé. Earlier this year, a KPMG survey found 68 per cent of Canadians who plan to buy a new vehicle within the next five years stated they will “very likely or likely” buy an EV, pure or hybrid. An estimated 61 per cent said the pandemic made them realize that they need a vehicle, as they’d rather drive than take public transportation. Laura Bryson says her company is seeing more uptake in both new construction and existing buildings. “There is particularly high demand in geographies where local requirements require certain parking spaces to have conduit rough-in to support future installation,” she says, pointing to the Toronto Green Standard and several municipalities in B.C. Whatever charging decisions boards and management make should be in the best interest of all the owners, says Detta Colli. At the moment, he doesn’t see a surging demand for EV charging in condos—yet. “This makes sense, given battery and plug-in hybrids made up only 1.8 per cent of new vehicle sales in 2020,” he notes. “The rate of EV sales is likely to go up, but it will take time to replace the fleet that is out there now.” With this in mind, Beam anticipates a multi-year project ahead. “We need to start budgeting for it and designing it so when demand hits us, probably not for at least another year, we’ll be ready with an interim step.” 1

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A Board’s Guide to Fixing “People Problems” If the police are called to break up a f ight at a board meeting, most


directors will recognize that a problem has been allowed to escalate overtime. Fortunately, most boards will never find themselves in a situation such as this. Still, many other less dramatic yet problematic situations can go unrecognized and, if not addressed, be just as devastating. Situations that occur more frequently could include the director who constantly interrupts meetings, argues constantly, brings up pet peeves, breaks board confidentiality, or saunters forth across the condo property and holds informal meetings with owners.

Every condo needs a high-functioning board of directors that provides the best possible governance for their condominium. It does not mean that there will never be disagreements; in fact, disagreeing and debate are critical to making the best decisions.

28 CONDOBUSINESS | Part of the REMI Network

It is easy to blame one person for being the problem. Problems and problematic people do not exist in a vacuum; they exist in the complex environment of a board of directors that is made up of people. How does a director get labelled as problematic? Is there a set of criteria that identifies them?


Is it the board that votes to determine who to label as such? No, it is much more subtle and usually starts with one director finding another to be difficult. It is not so much the person, but rather their behaviour that is problematic. Their transgression could be significant or it could be much more minor. Most condo boards do not have a large pool of potential candidates who are willing to serve. It is all too often a case where anyone showing any interest gets elected. Good advice is always to be careful choosing directors, but when most directors are elected by acclamation, this advice becomes meaningless. Likewise, it is often suggested that boards with problematic directors remove them. Again, this advice is not practical as removing a director is complicated and must be carried out according to provincial condo legislation and the condo’s own rules and regulations. Removing a problematic director is worth the effort when a major transgression occurs, such as a fight or financial fraud. In other cases, it is better to address or

even be proactive to prevent problematic incidents. Set The Stage. Be Proactive Boards welcome new directors regularly. There is no better opportunity than immediately after an election to provide a thorough orientation on being a condo board director. Setting the stage goes a long way in ensuring that all board members know from the beginning what is acceptable and what is not. Proactivity is always preferable to reactivity. Being proactive nips emerging problematic behaviour before it gets big enough to destroy a board. In the orientation, be sure to include the following principles: forget about themselves; wear the right hat; agree to disagree but never in public; intervene as soon as problems start; and respect diversity.


Forget About Themselves Directors are required to make decisions in the best interest of the condo corporation. A board can function effectively only if its directors act in the condo’s best

interests. It is highly problematic if a director allows their personal interests to override a decision. For example, when enforcing rules, no director can change a rule to suit their own interests. This does not mean that the director with a specific cause to promote cannot bring it up for discussion, but the orientation will inform them of how to bring up their cause in a way that doesn’t result in a problematic situation.


Wear The Right Hat The analogy of remembering to wear the right hat is a good one for board directors. It refers to the fact that directors are directors only when on official business for their condominium; thus they wear their board hat. This includes board meetings, annual meetings, special meetings or any other situation where official business is taking place. At all other times, the individual is an ordinary owner and wears their owner’s hat. New directors of ten find dealing with these situations problematic. Many directors complain that owners want to talk





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“Even better would be a policy that directors agree to follow when issues arise.” to them about board business the minute they step outside their door. After all, the newly elected director is also an owner and knows their neighbours. Talking with their neighbours is normal, but how can the newly elected director politely steer the conversation away from board business. Owners must understand that having a friend on the board is not a means to gaining insider information. A couple of approaches will help. Give new directors advice on how to deal with this at their first board meeting. Even better is to remind the owners at

every AGM to refrain from questioning the directors and explain why every director will not answer their questions.


Agree To Disagree But Never In Public Boards make decisions by voting on motions. Once a motion is approved by a majority vote, the board collectively agrees with the decision even if some directors did not vote in favour. It is expected that debate will occur before a vote, but once the voting is over, solidarity results. A director can disagree

30 CONDOBUSINESS | Part of the REMI Network

on a decision, but it is never appropriate for the details of the disagreement to become public. When knowing how to deal with these particular situations has been covered during the new director orientation, directors understand why board confidentiality and solidarity are essential.


Intervene As Soon As Problems Start Prevention of problematic situations is not always possible. If one director considers


another director as problematic, despite an excellent board orientation, it is time to act. More frequently, the problem is allowed to continue and fester. Directors need to work together. When problems occur, every director takes on the responsibility of finding a resolution. Even better would be a policy that directors agree to follow when issues arise. Nothing stops a director from approaching another, outside of a board meeting, and discussing whatever the problem might be. There is also nothing stopping a director from adding an agenda item to the meeting to discuss board relations. It could be possible that the director labelled as “problematic” is not the problem at all or has no idea why others perceive them as being a problem.


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Respecting Diversity Misunderstandings can arise for many reasons, including differences in communication styles between men and women, differences in age, race or languages used. It could be that one director has assumed a position of leadership that is not appreciated by some of the board. It might be that one director does most of the talking and leaves others feeling unable to participate. Another McGregor_Condo_March_2020.indd director could take a disagreement personally and feel slighted or even insulted by the discussion. In the heat of an intense debate, it is easy for directors to injure feelings. Any of these situations present prime opportunities for problems to surface. It is the collective responsibility of the board to prevent and address problematic situations as soon as they occur.

1 Concorde Gate,Suite 808 Toronto, Ontario 416.443.9499 mcgregor-


2020-09-28 4:16 PM

Begin With The End In Mind Condo boards need directors who can work with each other respectfully, encouraging discussion, resulting in best decisions for the condo corporation. Anything less means that the board and its directors are not fulfilling the position’s requirements for which they were elected. When a board functions cohesively, it is acting in the corporation’s best interests. 1 Pat Crosscombe is the past president of her condo board and the founder and CEO of BoardSpace, a company that provides board management software for condo boards and property managers. | August 2021 31

Supporting Residents Struggling with Mental Illness Five tips for dealing with disruptive behaviour

Mental illness is more prevalent than it may appear. Studies suggest that almost one in five Ontarians


have been

affected by a psychiatric disorder.

As it is a legal duty under the Ontario Human Rights Code for organizations and institutions to be “accessible, inclusive, discrimination and harassment-free environments,” there are some things to consider when dealing with residents who may be suffering from a mental illness. Take Notes Document anything that may seem out of the ordinary about a resident. This may include rapid weight loss, decline in hygiene, wearing inappropriate clothes for the weather, acting in a

32 CONDOBUSINESS | Part of the REMI Network

threatening or intimidating manner, behaving out of character, illogical or disorganized speech, statements that demonstrate potential paranoia, or actions that harmed or could have harmed the resident or others. Documents may later be supplied to police, hospitals or used in court if necessary. Ensure that documents are kept private and confidential and are not used as a means to stigmatize or discriminate against individuals. When meeting with a resident, taking notes is essential as the individual may have a different recollection of what transpired. For


this reason, it may be useful to have a witness present, if possible. As a witness can create an uncomfortable power imbalance, it can be useful to meet in a room where everyone feels safe (e.g. equal access to exits, door open). Request Emergency Contacts It is prudent to request all individuals to supply an emergency contact when they become a resident. This helps a matter proceed in the event any resident becomes ill or injured. If a resident has a serious mental health issue, it is likely the emergency contact is well aware. The emergency contact may also be able to intervene in ways that a condo manager cannot, such as transporting the person to seek medical care, liaising with a psychiatrist, or taking legal action to become a guardian. If there is no emergency contact and it is suspected that the person has a serious mental illness, it is possible to call the Office of the Public Guardian and Trustee (PGT). The PGT is part of the Ontario Ministry of the Attorney General and plays a role in caring for individuals found to be mentally incapable. The PGT keeps a register of all guardians of property and guardians of the person. Upon request, the PGT will disclose if an individual has a guardian. This information can be used by condo managers to identify a resident’s guardian and determine next steps. Notably, many people with a serious mental health issue do not have a guardian. Accept the Challenge and Get Creative Sometimes, it can be cheaper and less stressful to simply accept challenging behaviour for what it is, and focus on developing a solution, rather than try to change the behaviour itself. With many mental illnesses, a request to modify conduct is simply not going to result in meaningful change. Though no fault of their own, the individual may lack the ability to comprehend or act upon the request. Lack of insight is often part of the illness; it may be unrealistic and unreasonable to expect a person suffering from a serious mental illness to change. Medication, however, can lead to dramatic improvements for some individuals. Here are some examples: • If a person is covering their windows with tinfoil due to paranoia, it may be worth considering whether to let this go rather than insist the tinfoil be removed (provided there is no safety concern). • If noise is an issue, soundproofing may be an option. • If hoarding is a problem and creating an odour that disturbs residents, it may be logical to offer occasional cleaning services. Condo managers are not expected to serve as mental health professionals and, therefore, addressing paranoia or other manifestations of a mental illness is not realistic. Focusing on what can be controlled is often the path of least resistance. Have an Emergency Plan Just because someone has a mental illness does not mean that they will become violent. It is much more likely for people with mental illness to become victims of violence instead of the perpetrators. However, creating an emergency plan is never a bad idea.

If someone has been threatened or harmed, calling police can be prudent, or necessary, to ensure everyone’s safety. However, the police may have no information about the resident. It can, therefore, be important to share knowledge or suspicion of a mental illness with the dispatcher when calling 911, and the first responders who arrive on scene. This may help diffuse the situation and result in a more positive outcome. This is also where those documents of unusual behaviour come in handy. It can be helpful to review one’s notes before speaking with first responders. Additionally, providing a copy or summary of notes to police may help police decide to exercise their authority under section 17 of the Mental Health Act, which allows them to transport a person to hospital for a psychiatric evaluation. Managers may wish to keep a printout of this section in a binder with the rest of the emergency plan as a reminder to advocate for this option rather than a criminal charge. Keep Calm and Be Kind The duty to accommodate includes performing those duties in a manner that respects the dignity of the person. Human dignity includes inherent worth as a human being, and autonomy is harmed when people are ignored or devalued. Disruptive residents with mental illness are rarely trying to be difficult. Most likely, they are experiencing difficult times themselves. We don’t blame people with physical disabilities or illnesses for their conditions, yet there is a stigma with mental illness that is difficult to overcome and often results in poor treatment by others. Remaining calm and being kind is an important strategy because it can help to avoid escalation. This can include active listening, validating how someone feels, maintaining physical distance, and refraining from using a raised voice. There are resources online that provide training in verbal de-escalation skills. In the event the condo corporation is asked to prove that a resident was accommodated, displays of kindness will only enhance the optics and help the decision-maker look favourably on the corporation. Mental illness presents unique challenges to condominiums. With diligent documentation, planning and the right attitude, these challenges can at least be mitigated to the greatest extent possible. 1 This article does not constitute legal advice. When in doubt, consult a lawyer. Lisa Feldstein is a health and fertility lawyer at Lisa Feldstein Law Office PC. She specializes in matters relating to consent, capacity and substitute decision- making. Her practice is focused on serving family caregivers and helping clients build families through third party reproduction. She can be contacted at Tess Chambers is a second year law student at the University of Ottawa. | August 2021 33

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Costa advised that he no longer wished to occupy his role as president. The emergency meeting took place at the defendant’s (MTCC 1292’s) premises. At the emergency meeting, the plaintiff and Mr. Da Costa entered into a heated argument, which led Mr. Da Costa to “lose it” and strike the plaintiff on the head with a chair. Mr. Da Costa was charged by the police and received a conditional discharge for assault with a weapon. iff commen The plaintiff commenced a civil action against Mr. Da Costa fo for his use of force as well as MTCC TCC 1292 for fo failing to ensure her safety and nd failing to employ security meet measures at board meetings. MTCC 1292 brought a motion summary judgment otion for su to dismiss the plaintiff’s plaintiff’ claim against it nly opposed by Mr. Da Costa which was only given his crossclaim MTCC 1292 ossclaim against ag on and indemnity. inde for contribution



BALANCING THE BOOKS Will new cost pressures force corporations to revise their budgets this year?




their premises reasonably safe for those who enter it. But what about when an individual commits assault while at one of these meetings? Should the occupier or organizer of the




board meeting be liable for failing to ensure the safety and security of those lawfully on the premises?

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In Omotayo v. Da Costa, 2018, the defendant occupier, Metro Toronto Condominium Corporation 1292 (MTCC 1292), was successful in dismissing the plaintiff’s claim and the assailant’s crossclaim when a member in attendance at a condominium board meeting struck another meeting attendee with a chair. Justice Nishikawa found that the duty the condominium corporation owed to the plaintiff did not include preventing an assault that occurred during their condominium board meeting. Facts of the case T he plaintif f, J ac queline O mot ayo, was a resident and former chair of the condominium corporation. The defendant, Jose Da Costa, was also a resident and former president of the condominium corporation. An emergency board meeting was held on Oct. 4, 2011, to discuss the future organization of the board as Ms. Omotayo had recently been removed from her position as chair and Mr. Da

By Steven Chester


Let’s face it, we all want our businesses to be social media rock stars, and we know it ain’t easy. It’s becoming more prevalent that some of the most popular social media platforms have been infiltrated by those who game the system. This includes those that buy fake followers and “likes” in order to create the illusion that their social media profile is more popular than it is. These fake followers are predominantly bots – accounts run by software designed to look and act like real people.


New services are also popping up that allow authentic social media accounts to become part of the bot game. By signing up for the service, the user authorizes their account to automatically like, follow and randomly comment on other users’ posts, and in turn they trade that fake engagement with other users. Sound harmless enough? The thing is you have no say in in the message your account is spreading or where it ends up.


Summary judgment motion udgment m positi MTCC took the position that its duty w is confined confine to the physical under the law condition of the premises premise and foreseeable e unforese risks, not the unforeseeable conduct of individuals in attendan attendance. Meanwhile, Mr. Da Costa that MTCC 1292’s a argued th s to having rules of conduct duty extends s, policies re for meetings, relating to abusive l an gu a g e, thre at s aan d intimid atin g d a duty to h behavior, and hire and supervise competent professional professionals to oversee its luding, if appropriate, ap business (including, security Cos further argued personnel). Mr. Da Costa ult was foreseeable fore that the assault given the M quarrelsome nature of MTCC 1292’s board nd a prior unrelated u meetings and incident involving the plaintiff and another member of MTCC 1292 wherein the police was 292 wherei called. ng her dec In reaching decision, Justice Nishikawa looked Coleiro v. Premier ooked to C s where summary sum Fitness Clubs judgment d in favour of the defendant was granted


Ask yourself this: What’s more important, having 50,000 cosmetic followers, or having

500 followers who are in your target market REMEDYING FOUR that actually want to hear from you? COMMON CARPET As a consumer, it’s even simpler, as PROBLEMS deceptive tactics are easy to spot. If you’re using underhanded methods to promote your business, this can be viewed as a reflection of your product or service. Your integrity is at stake. This is one of the more complex topics that can’t be fully covered in this space. As always, I invite you to stay social and continue the conversation on Twitter at @Chestergosocial where I’ll share a link to the full article.


SUCCESS Steven Chester is the Digital Media Director of MediaEdge Communications. With 15 years’ experience in cross-platform communications, Steven helps companies expand their reach through social media and other digital initiatives. To contact him directly, email | June 2018 15

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Digitalizing Emergency Preparedness Using the buzzword of the year,

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Those with experience likely understand that residential buildings have a standard list of crises or emergencies that could potentially occur, and that such events must be considered in a condominium’s emergency response plan. The Condominium Act, 19 9 8 (the Condo Act) requires that condominium corporations comply with a number of operational requirements: adhering to the corporation’s declaration, by-laws, and rules; ensuring the safety of individuals in the common elements and individual units; and maintaining certain records as well as the property. With this in mind, federal warnings of a variant-driven fourth wave—the latest stage in this pandemic saga— are raising many questions. But they also call for tangible solutions among condo communities. Following a coordinated response to the coronavirus outbreak, how are condo managers able to effectively navigate regulations and maintain compliance to ensure their safety, and the safety of others? The answer is simple —technology. The pandemic has made condominiums more digital than ever with safer methods for communicating with residents. Mobile applications, screens in the lobby, elevators that don’t require physical touch, and hosting Zoom video calls have become the norm. Cloud - based technolog y such as digital signage has helped to ease the communication gap between condominium managers and residents. Today’s enhanced digital signage options include full motion video content, advertising messages, community forums and marketplace. All of these features create a much needed extension of communication and connection within a vertical neighbourhood. Similarly, cumbersome and high touch items such as paper booklets and clipboards, used daily by front line staff to track the building’s emergency preparedness and code compliance efforts, have also gone digital. As a fire code requirement, basic life safety systems within a condominium are to be inspected and fully functioning. This practice forms the fundamentals of a condominium’s emergency preparedness plan, knowing that the systems are ready to respond in the event of an emergency.

Paper documentation has traditionally been used to track inspections and collected as evidence. Standard paper, however, requires a lot of physical space to store, degrades over time, is often damaged or misplaced, and is time consuming. Following a host of security and safety issues during the pandemic, paper is quickly disappearing from the business environment. Newer innovations include gathering building information from a mobile app, which is helping first responders to react quickly and efficiently to critical incidents. Hand-held technology reduces precious emergency response time, while improving critical decision-making and creating site awareness of hazards. There are mobile applications that specifically support code compliance for property managers. Customizable daily, weekly, monthly and annual code required inspections can be recorded and tracked, with corrective action taken, if necessary. Such an app will identify ongoing or recurring issues for preventative maintenance, and provide an instant notification of hazards. Along with the excitement of implementing digital emergency preparedness programs within a building, come a few obstacles. The days of the notepad and three-ring binders are almost gone, although some building staff may hesitate about using the new technology. They should understand that in today’s environment, organizations as a whole need to prepare for a growing number of unpredictable situations. With the proper training, preparation and access to the most progressive and easy-to-use industry tools, building staff will quickly understand that all are necessar y to effectively prepare and respond to various emergency scenarios. Another challenge could be a technical or organizational failure, which may cause the disruption of the digital emergency preparedness service. Working with a trusted and experienced company who has gone to great lengths to safeguard the data by employing primary storage systems and backup is essential. Taking such precautions, a condominium building can be assured that if anything unexpected happens, their data will be

36 CONDOBUSINESS | Part of the REMI Network

recovered quickly, with minimal impact on operations. The COVID -19 pandemic has been a catalyst for condominium managers and boards to achieve a higher standard of safety and reassure residents and employees that their wellness is of paramount concern. Adopting technology invented not only to enhance emergency preparedness, but also to save the evidence to prove it, has accelerated several trends that are likely to change the way apartments and condos are designed and resided within in the future. Technology has been used to allow operations throughout the pandemic, causing companies across every industry to rethink how they function. For condominiums, virtual meetings, digital signage and mobile applications have created “smarter buildings” and improved efficiency of managing emergency response and code compliance. Such “smart” buildings offer convenience, increased safety and a sense of comfort for residents, and the evidence a corporation needs to prove compliance and a defendable risk management program. Digital products are expeditiously being added to property portfolios as they refocus and adopt applications that offer easy solutions to potentially complex challenges. Their extensive accessibility and robust return on investment swiftly make it a “need to have” rather than a “nice to have” for condo managers and owners alike. 1 Rebecca Gicante is a member of the administration and special projects team at National Life Safety Group, a fire, safety and emergency management consultancy firm that provides leadership and innovation to the safety, security and property operations industries. In this role, Rebecca provides unparalleled project leadership and customer service to their family of clients. She is a certified corporate wellness specialist, has completed several fire safety and health & safety related programs, and is currently pursuing psychological first aid training. https://www.nationallifesafetygroup. ca. Contact: 647-794-5505 or solutions@

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In fact, technology is revolutionizing the way condo buildings operate and positively impacting the lives of residents at the same time by supporting a stronger sense of community, while building better relations among residents, condo managers and extended teams. Condo managers are benefiting as well. Those who embrace technology are streamlining duties that just a few years ago may have upended their day. Technology has the power to eliminate problems, like flooding and extensive water damage altogether. This allows for more time to attend to more pressing matters, or even kick off exciting new projects while supporting a better work environment and more rewarding role. Here are five ways evolving technology can create a sense of community, and bring property management into the future. Communit y Forums: Transitioning from paper postings to digitized communications is being adopted at a rapid rate. However, to effectively create an enriched sense of community, a portal allows property managers to communicate with residents, as well as residents to communicate with each other. For example, residents can seek out community suggestions, share information about a local event or post items for sale like furniture, workout gear or bicycles. Chatbots: Chatbots and virtual robot assistants provide almost immediate answers to residents’ questions or complaints. This rapid response also builds a better rapport between condo property managers and residents in general. Chatbots can be programmed to respond to common maintenance queries, thus reducing the number of requests the condo manager has to field on any given day. Furthermore, as all requests are not created equal, the chatbot can prioritize complaints and segregate them from high, medium or low emergency situations. Depending on the issue, the chatbot can even be trained to help the resident resolve minor issues that don’t require expert intervention on their own. The chatbot can also share helpful explanatory videos and links. While chatbots promote efficiency, they shouldn’t, nor can they, replace a human touch. There’s also no need for them to sound robotic and boring. Artificial Intelligence allows them to be programmed to have a lively, fun and friendly persona. Parcel Management: The spike in e-commerce has familiarized condo managers with how a deluge of parcels in a lobby can cause chaos within the condo community. To avoid headaches associated with missing and misplaced packages, a parcel management plan can mitigate issues and disputes among residents that can quickly take up much of a condo manager’s day. Many condos have chosen to designate a room for parcels. Some don't have this luxury and have opted to build a cubby behind the concierge desk to keep parcels organized and from piling up. A keypad system that allows couriers to insert packages into a locker that requires a code can also provide a solution. However, getting all couriers to adopt this system can be challenging. Posting signage at the front door and within the main entrance in the courier’s anticipated line of site can help more couriers follow the process.


“While chatbots promote efficiency, they shouldn’t, nor can they, replace a

human touch. There’s also no need for them to sound robotic and boring.” Keeping a parcel management system running smoothly is a two-way effort. Residents should also be reminded through the condo’s portal communication that they need to keep an eye out for email and text notifications advising of a delivery so they can pick up their packages as soon as possible. This reduces chances of packages going missing. Smart Security: Robotic security patrol is being used at some malls, developments and corporate facilities south of the border. These robots can scan licence plates, handle facial recognition and even apprehend criminals. Hiring one can range from $60,000 to $70,000 US per yearly lease. Property management in Canada hasn’t yet gone as far. Smart security can’t match the value of a human security guard. However, technologies can provide greatly improved and enhanced monitoring and immediate communication in a way humans can’t because they just can’t be everywhere all at once. M otion sensor s p aire d w ith te c hno lo g y send c ond o managers push notifications regarding suspicious movement in pool areas or on the grounds. Soon, smart security will be able to process this information through Artificial Intelligence and take next steps. Currently, smart security can do things like differentiate between a pet or person. Resident controlled smart locks for main entry points are also widely implemented to increase security and safety. Meanwhile, e - keys for maintenance and skilled tradespeople enable temporary entry and exit access and monitoring. Smart Sensors: Smart sensors are a way to save time while supporting sustainability. A smart sensor in an underground parking garage can trigger exhaust fans to turn on versus kee ping them r unning c ontinuousl y and unne c es s ar il y wasting energy. Sensors also keep costs down because they can monitor temperature swings and water usage to give managers and residents more control over their bills, while providing increased comfort. Smart sensors also prevent significant water damage that can cause major and costly inconveniences to residents. They can detect a leaky or broken pipe before it leads to tens of thousands of dollars in repairs and months to fix, which means residents could lose the use of common areas they once enjoyed. 1

Mo Killu is the vice president of communities and client services at GPM Property Management Inc. He is a revered expert within the condominium property management industry with over a decade of experience overseeing a portfolio of top condo buildings across Toronto. Killu currently oversees a diverse portfolio that includes special projects, process improvement initiatives and legislative updates. He is an active member of ACMO, CCI and CAI and currently involved in CCI Toronto Chapter Committees: Th e Vo l u nte e r C o m m it te e a n d th e C o n d o S tre n g th Committee. He also has hands-on experience as a condo board member as well as has successfully completed Tarion.

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PANDEMIC RELIEF FOR LANDLORDS Balancing today’s financial and tenant challenges Being a landlord can be a challenge during the best of times. Throughout the pandemic, however, financial hardships and logistical obstacles have added to the stresses (and costs) of landlords and boards of directors responsible for managing residential and commercial properties. It’s no stretch to say that the pandemic has elevated the risks (and headaches) of being a landlord. Today, landlords, boards and property managers face more challenges on every front, including: • Stressed tenant relations: The landlord-tenant and condominium owner and board’s relationships have been under considerable strain for the past year and a half. On one side, there is a significant number of renters and owners who have faced -- and continue to face -- legitimate financial challenges that make

it difficult to pay rent or condominium fees resulting in defaults and arrears. On the other side, however, are landlords and boards with their own critical expenses to bear. Both parties are doing what they can to weather the storm, but competing financial challenges created by pandemic conditions have added tensions to the relationship. • Health and safety necessities: Keeping renters and condominium owners safe has remained a top priority throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. That said, investing in enhanced cleaning programs, health and safety technologies, staff training, and other measures, in addition to regular overhead for property maintenance, repair and emergencies, adds considerable expense and cost to operations. Absorbing these additional costs can be difficult, particularly during the pandemic when landlords are unable to collect full rent. • Increased maintenance costs: The pandemic has underlined the need for reliable ventilation systems and consistently healthy indoor air quality (IAQ). In response, many apartment owners, condominium boards, and stakeholders have invested in more effective HVAC systems to keep their occupants safe. Paying for these upgrades or retrofits may be a necessity, but it’s stretching maintenance budgets to their limit and in some cases beyond.

SPONSORED CONTENT • Maintenance backlogs: A number of non-critical repairs and replacements have been put on hold over the last year and a half. Once we are past pandemic conditions, however, those same maintenance tasks will be waiting. Recognizing this, landlords, boards and property management teams will face a tsunami of increased costs as they struggle to remobilize people and resources to tackle this inevitable backlog. • Limited contact: Social distancing protocols have made it more difficult for landlords and boards to interact directly with tenants and unit owners. And while e-mails, phone calls, and video streaming do the trick, lack of face-to-face contact and social distancing makes it hard for property managers and maintenance contractors to do their jobs effectively and efficiently, and often at additional time and cost. Landlord support These are difficult and costly days to be a landlord. And while Canada is making progress in its fight against the pandemic, property managers of every kind will likely find themselves balancing financial anxieties and tenant relationships well beyond the crisis. “The landlords have been giving relief to the tenants to help them survive, and many will need to continue doing this as the economy takes time to recover,” says Winnie Tsui, Director of Operations with Living Properties, a GTAbased property management firm. “Having said that, it’s likely that landlords will still have trouble collecting full rent even after the pandemic and, at the same time, maintaining operating costs, repairs, maintenance, and any number of expenses.” It’s enough to make any building management professional lose sleep. The good news, adds Tsui, is that landlords have access to their own supports: “Our President has insisted that our primary obligation is to share the burden with our landlord clients through this difficult time, which is why we’re prepared to offer new

clients up to 30% discount on our services for two years.” Think of Living Properties as a “one-stop property solution,” she continues. With its team of certified and experienced property managers, the firm provides a full suite of services, from leasing to rent collection to back-office accounting, unit inspections to maintenance management, managing inspections, regulation enforcement, and beyond. Living Properties management package comes with 24/7 access to emergency service and support for all aspects of a tenant’s move-ins and move-outs, including conducting reference checks, arranging move-out/ move-in dates, and issuing collection and evictionrelated notices, when needed. “The job of a landlord is always changing, which means we’re always keeping an eye on evolving regulations and trends, and employing the latest technologies and systems, to help landlords stay ahead,” adds Tsui. “This 30% discount for new clients is just another way we’re helping them respond to today’s challenges,” she adds. Experience is also an asset, especially as landlords look ahead at post-pandemic recovery. Established in 1983, Living Properties’ team has spent decades helping clients navigate an ever-changing landscape. Over those years, the firm has also aligned itself with industry partners, becoming a fully-licensed member of the Condominium Management Regulatory Authority (CRMAO) and the Canadian Condominium Institute (CCI), and a member of the Association of Condominium Managers of Ontario (ACMO) and Federation of RentalHousing Providers of Ontario (FRPO). “We have the best resources for the landlord, and we offer a very competitive rate; but more importantly, we believe in applying a personal approach to property management that benefits both landlords and their tenants,” adds Tsui. Living Properties Inc. is a full-service property management company providing investors, property owners, and condominium boards with peace of mind and quality service since 1983. Learn how new clients can receive 30% off Living Properties’ services. Visit or call 905-477-2090.


World’s Largest Condo Bike Facility A 50,000-square-foot bike facility is being planned for the Concord Metrotown, a three-tower development in Burnaby, B.C., located on the site of a former Sears department store. Concord Pacific says it will be the world’s largest and most comprehensive bike amenity ever planned for a condo development. The facility will feature a gear room, indoor bike loop, spin studio, two bike lounges, a washing bay, and change and shower facilities with massive skylights. The development will also include secure storage for 1,500 bicycles and premium storage with closed partition walls, an interlocking wall panel system for storage solutions, and electrical outlets for e-bike charging. The idea is to support sustainable commuting and foster a healthy micro community.

Heritage-Inspired Living The Goode condo, as its name implies, will be a salute to the early 19th-century Gooderham & Worts, once one of the world’s largest distilleries. Rising 32 storeys, the condo will make history of its own, standing on one of the last parcels of residential land in the Distillery District. Gray wood Developments and designer architects A lliance envision a mixed-use podium beneath the units and a design that uses masonry alongside glass and metal. Physical connections between the building and The Distillery will be realized through the L-shaped podium that carves out new publicly accessible space behind The Goode.

Kelowna Condo Community Plans for EV First An elevated beachside condo community called MOVAL A will take shape in Kelowna, B.C., in the Lower Mission neighbourhood between Gyro Beach Park and Pandosy Village. Kelowna City Council gave final approvals on the project at a public hearing in July. The residential development is the vision of local developer Stober Group, known for their commercial communities, including the Landmark District. The pet-friendly, anti-short-term-rental community will consist of one, two and three -bedroom units with panorama views of Okanagan Lake. Plans also call for EV-charging capability at every parking stall, a condo project first in Kelowna.

42 CONDOBUSINESS | Part of the REMI Network


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