CondoBusiness September 2021

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Canada’s Most Widely Read Condominium Magazine

September 2021 • Vol. 36 #4


Designing for a hybrid reality


Reserve Funds and Climate Change | Tornado Prep | Behind the Antimicrobial Hype | The CAT's Wait-And-See Approach





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By Ryan Johnson

19 Prepping for High-Wind Events By Jim Mandeville


At Home in the Office

By Rebecca Melnyk

40 Timely and Timeless: A Q&A On Condo Decor Trends 44 Landscaping A New Condo Hotel in Vaughan By Kent Ford



10 BOMA BEST Gets Multifamily Tweaks

38 The CAT’s Wait-And-See Approach

30 Reserve Fund Studies Ignore Climate Target Impacts By Murray Johnson

43 Deadline Set for Energy-Use Data Availability



Editor's Note


Ask the Expert


New & Notable

34 Nova Scotia Proposes Property Tax Premiums

Canada’s Most Widely Read Condominium Magazine


September 2021 • Vol. 36 #4

By Barbara Carss THE NEW CO-WORKING SPACES Designing for a hybrid reality


14 The Hidden Dangers of Antimicrobial Building Products


Reserve Funds and Climate Change | Tornado Prep | Behind the Antimicrobial Hype | The CAT's Wait-And-See Approach

A newly designed co-working space at 8 Wellesley in Toronto. PA R T O F T H E







Image courtesy of CentreCourt and Bazis










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A Commute-Free Office A whirlwind of uncertainty is facing many organizations with the thought of enticing workers back to the office full time or rolling out new work models. What also remains unclear is how many employees will enjoy remote work after this pandemic is said and gone. Condo developers, however, are preparing for greater demand for hybrid work arrangements close to home, and they’re not alone. A survey of more than 2,000 Canadian workers released by KPMG LLP in May showed that 77 per cent want a mix of remote and in-office working models post-COVID. On the extreme end, one in three workers said they would quit their job if called back to the office full time. So says a survey by Robert Half, conducted this past April. Workplace consultants foresee a hybrid reality as more likely than not. What does this mean for condos and the residents who will be working remotely? Check out page 27 for details on how new co-working spaces are being designed to appease various work styles. From there, our design and renovation issue also takes a look at the dangers of antimicrobial building products, which are making their way into residential settings with the promise of mitigating virus transmission. Another piece questions why reserve fund studies are not accounting for climate change targets as set out in the Paris accord. More on that on page 24. Note: This has become even more important now that a global consortium of scientists recently warned residents that severe conditions are going to be more frequent and intense unless carbon and other GHG emissions are drastically cut in the coming decades. Also in this issue, we look at recent cases from the Condominium Authority Tribunal, preparing for high-wind events, sustainable policy updates, fire safety, condo design trends, a landscaping case study, and Nova Scotia’s looming surcharges for out-of-province residential property purchasers and owners. As always, if you have a story idea or comment, please feel free to reach out at any time at the email address below. Enjoy the fall season and stay safe.

Rebecca Melnyk Editor, CondoBusiness

Associate Publisher Bryan Chong Editor Rebecca Melnyk Advertising Sales Bryan Chong Kelly Nicholls Blair Wilson Senior Designer Annette Carlucci Production Manager Rachel Selbie Contributing Writers Barbara Carss, Kent Ford, Murray Johnson, Ryan Johnson, Jim Mandeville, Alessandro Munge, Jason Reid, Victor Yee 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.





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Fired Up Over Access? T h e O nt a r i o F i r e C o d e r e q u i r e s t h a t in-suite devices be inspected annually in all condominiums, as part of the life safety systems annual inspection requirements according to NF PA 72 Clause 14.4. 3. 2. O ver the past yea r, condominium corporations have seen a dramatic increase in owners barring entry to their unit during these scheduled inspections. Here, Jason Reid, senior adviser for fire & emergency management with National Life Safety Group, offers guidance for dealing with owners who refuse access.

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The Fire Protection and Prevention Act states that, “every person who contravenes any provision of the fire code and ever y director or officer of a corporation who knowingly concurs in such contravention is guilty of an offence and on conviction is liable to a fine of not more than $50,000 (first offence) and $100,000 (subsequent offence) for an individual or $50 0,0 0 0 (first offence) and $1,50 0,0 0 0 (subsequent offence) for a corporation or to imprisonment for a term of not more than one year or both.” Throughout this pandemic, in-suite devices are being inspected safely in residential buildings everywhere in Ontario. Professional property managers have run a tight ship and fire code tests and inspections continue to occur. Sometimes, however, rooms and certain devices are not accessible at the time of a scheduled fire alarm test and inspection. Perhaps the building staff doesn’t have access to an area of the condominium which is undergoing a renovation, and the device needing testing cannot be reached. Or, perhaps the service provider testing in-suite devices cannot access a certain resident's suite because the building's master key is not working on this particular door. The resident could have changed the locks without notifying or receiving permission from the corporation. Subsequently, the annual service provider would document the unavailability of these devices for inspection and clearly identify these locations in their official report. Over the last 12 months, corporations are seeing increases in suite owners not allowing access to their suites to complete these inspections, with some refusing access on the grounds of safety concerns due to COVID-19, and from their own perceptions of safety. We must also consider those directed to quarantine inside their suite by order of public health, including those residents in the building caring for elderly, susceptible persons at higher risk. On the other side of the coin, if residents do not provide access to in-suite devices, a percentage of basic fire protection devices, such as smoke alarms and in-suite speakers, could potentially fail when obligated to function. Fire code compliance is not impacted or revised in Ontario due to the pandemic, and there are no special provisions for residential highrises; rather, completing all aspects of the fire code and system test requirements are still required.

C ommunic ate with residents well in ad vance of the inspection. Clearly speak to the safety of those inspections: educate residents on the critical impor tance of testing in-suite devices and confirming their efficacy every year, and let them know it remains an active code requirement that the condo corporation is required to follow. In-suite device inspections also ensure common smoke alarms are present and working. It's not simply the resident safety in the suite they are testing the devices for, but it's also for their neighbour's safety. After making two attempts over a 30-day period to engage and educate the resident in an attempt to gain the legally required and permissible access, ask the corporation's lawyer for an official communication to be drafted and issued. Ask your fire alarm and sprinkler inspection company to ensure that the annual inspection report they provide clearly identifies any access issues, and clearly documents if entry is refused for safety reasons— just as they currently do for inaccessible suites that have changed locks. Once received, review your annual test and inspection report in detail and specifically address access issues one by one, if necessary. Documentation of all tests and inspections must be maintained at the building for a period of two years, with evidence of compliance resting on the building owner. Proof of daily, weekly, monthly and annual tests and inspections must be maintained for inspection by the fire services and/or the authority having jurisdiction. Do not delay any life safety system inspections. Fire protection companies are deemed essential services and are highly trained professionals who use industry standards to keep themselves and the residents of the building safe while conducting suite access. 1 Jason Reid is the Senior Adviser for fire and emergency management with National Life Safety Group in Toronto. He has worked with international embassies, government, public and private sector critical infrastructure facilities; commercial/ residential high-rise buildings; world class shopping centres and mass assembly facilities. He is also recognized throughout Canada for innovative best practices in the fire service and property/facility management industry – protecting people, assets, reputation and the bottom line. He can be reached at: Main: 647-794-5505 Toll Free: 1-877-751- 0508 | September 2021 9


BOMA BEST Criteria Introduce Multifamily Tweaks BOMA BEST criteria for multifamily buildings will be updated beginning in January 2022. Landlords and condominium corporations participating in the environmental performance benchmarking and certification program will have to comply with an expanded list of best practices, which are consistent with existing prerequisites for office buildings and enclosed shopping centres. Additionally, attainable point tallies have been adjusted and new point-gaining measures have been added to reflect pandemic-related operational considerations and building performance advancements. Among the new best practice expectations, building management must prepare and adopt an overarching environmental policy to guide their efforts. To secure BOMA BEST certification, buildings must have a stated energy reduction target and a plan to reduce water consumption. Waste audits must be conducted on a three-year cycle, which will inform the compulsory waste management plan and the edict for separate bins for landfill waste and divertible materials. Buildings must also have indoor air quality (IAQ) monitoring plans and green cleaning programs.

10 CONDOBUSINESS | Part of the REMI Network

In response to COVID-19 -related experiences, the BOMA BEST points systems will place more emphasis on ventilation systems, controls and monitoring. There are also new point allocations for air sanitation, air quality monitoring, MERV 13 filters and relative humidity considerations. As well, owners/managers are encouraged to analyze the difference in energy and water consumption for the 12-month period prior to the pandemic’s onset in March 2020 versus the pandemic period. BOMA BEST administrators foresee slight downward pressure on scores once the new questionnaire goes into effect on January 18, 2022. “Buildings currently earning BOMA BEST Silver may see a reduction of 2 to 3 per cent in the total score. Gold and Platinum level certifications may see a reduction of 1 per cent,” they project. “While this may impact scores, few will experience a change in certification level.” 1

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TAPPING IN TO NEXT-GEN INTERCOMS It takes more than a static directory and buzzer to manage front door activity. That’s why many multi-residential managers and residents are seeking smarter and more secure ways of controlling building access. And with visitor traffic only increasing, old-fashioned intercom systems might not be up to the task. The demand for smarter building access solutions is driven by several factors. Top among them is a rise in online shopping that is bringing more and more packages to the front doors of condos and apartments across

Canada. In fact, a June 2021 study by PayPal reveals that Canadians upped their monthly online shopping spend by $2 billion during the pandemic , resulting in record-breaking activity for package delivery companies across the sector. “Lately, we’ve seen some of our multi-residential clients’ intercom systems covered in dozens of notices from delivery services and couriers who tried to drop off a package but couldn’t gain access,” says Neil Denney, Executive Vice-President for Inlight Solutions, a GTA-based provider of smart, eco-forward solutions. “And because those systems require recipients to be in the building to ‘buzz them up’, there are a lot of missed connections.” The volume of deliveries isn’t expected to slow down any time soon, Denney notes. As pandemic restrictions lift, multi-family buildings are likely to see even more visits from friends, family members, and service providers (e.g., healthcare workers, dog walkers, food deliverers, etc.). As such, dealing effectively with everyone seeking entrance, even when residents aren’t there, requires a more tech-savvy approach.

RE-THINKING THE INTERCOM It’s a wireless, streaming, appdriven world. It only makes sense that intercom systems follow suit. Recognizing this, the proptech innovators at HIVE recently introduced the Hive Smart Video Intercom system as a way for property teams to stay ahead of the trends. Distributed and installed exclusively in Ontario by InLight Solutions, the Hive Intercom enables residents to see and communicate with whoever is requesting access to their building through the Hive Intercom mobile app. “Now, whether you’re home or not, you can answer that visitor request remotely through the HIVE app remotely from anywhere in the world,” explains Amin Damyar, President & Cofounder of HIVE. “From there, you can see exactly who is asking to be let it and decide to share a ‘digital key’ to the building or provide other directions.” The benefits of a “smarter” intercom extend beyond remote access and real-time connectivity. The ability to see and track multi-residential visitors also embeds a welcome layer of security and accountability for property managers.


“Every time a visitor interacts with the Hive Intercom, the device takes a clear snapshot of the user and logs the details of their interaction,” Damyar explains. “That image and data is then recorded and stored so if there’s ever an incident, the manager can go back into those logs and find out who came into their building, their time of visit, and other key details.” Of course, seeing who is at the front door adds also delivers peace of mind for residents. According to Jinesh Patel, resident and co-owner at Lofts St-James: “After using Hive Intercom, it only makes answering more secure, especially with a video camera to get a glimpse before unlocking the door.’ Privacy is also a priority within multi-residential buildings. To that end, Hive intercom users can choose to remove their names and personal details from the touchscreen directory and respond to requests anonymously.

Speaking to Hive’s value offering for unit owners and renters overall, Denney adds: “Not everyone can afford to have a concierge, so this is an inexpensive and user-friendly way for residents to know you’re letting the right people in and out.” GENERATING BUZZ HIVE’s Smart Video Intercom offers a glimpse at how residential and commercial buildings alike are tapping into digital solutions to keep pace with modern demands. And thanks to its ease of installation, user-friendly design, and low cost of entry compared to traditional intercom systems, HIVE’s front door innovation is catching on. “We launched Hive into the market in early 2021 and the interest has been very high,” Damyar reports. “Part of that early buzz is the fact that property owners and managers are looking for technologies that make their operations smarter and more streamlined, while building occupants are gravitating to any technology that keeps them more

connected and in control of their environment.” Certainly, says Denney, requests to install Hive among condos, apartments, and office buildings have been climbing, especially as property teams pursue ways to keep pace with modern demands. “At the end of the day, Hive is about intercoms catching up with the smartphone world, and everyone is recognizing the benefits,” he adds. Learn more about InLight and the HIVE Smart Video Intercom at hive-x-inlight.

The Hidden Dangers of Antimicrobial Building Products Have you been hearing advertisements on the radio, internet, or TV for products that claim


to protect you from COVID-19? Maybe they include language like “made with

antimicrobials” or “with added protection against the growth of bacteria and viruses” or similar phrases. In bu il d in g p ro d u c t s , t h e s e c l a i m s usually mean that the manufacturer has added extra antimicrobials to their product for the purpose of marketing it this way. Such claims are usually very carefully worded to imply protection against COV ID -19 or other diseases without explicitly stating this. W hile this may seem like a great innovation at first glance, it pays to take a closer look. It’s important to understand why antimicrobials are in building products

and what they can do to help or harm us. What Are Antimicrobials and W hy A re They Ad d e d to B u i l d i ng Products? A ntimicrobials are added to building products for one of two reasons:


To protect the product itself from d e g r a d atio n o r s p o il a g e fro m mould, mildew, or other molecules that

14 CONDOBUSINESS | Part of the REMI Network

can harm it – for example, preservatives in a can of paint.


To go beyond product preservation, often with the goal of marketing a product as “made with antimicrobials.” The first is a common, legitimate use of antimicrobials and helps extend the product’s useful life. The second use, on the other hand, often goes hand-inhand with marketing claims that imply


that the product protects the user from disease. Killing microscopic organisms on a surface should not, however, be equated with preventing disease. While federal laws regulate marketing claims about the ability of a product to prevent diseases, including COVID -19, it can be difficult to understand the language used and weigh the benefits of products labeled as antimicrobial. Little evidence exists that building p ro d u c t s c o nt a inin g a nt imi c ro b i a l s actually prevent disease transmission and lead to healthier populations. By and large, good scientific studies that would determine whether or not they do reduce human disease transmission have not been conducted. These types of studies rely on wellestablished methods like clinical trials to determine whether or not specific inter ventions – such as antimicrobial surfaces – can reduce the number of people who become infected with a disease. With the exception of a small number of studies on copper surfaces in hospital settings, these studies are virtually nonexistent to date when it comes to added antimicrobials in building products.

safe with antimicrobial technology” may become lax in essential practices such as handwashing, cleaning, and safely disinfecting surfaces that are proven to limit infection and spread of disease. It is imp or t ant to und erst and that infe c ti o u s d ise a se tr ansmis si o n is complicated, and there are many variables affecting how the viruses and bacteria that cause disease move between and infect

people. Clean surfaces play an important role in preventing the spread of disease, but we simply don’t have much information that tells us whether or not using antimicrobial surfaces provides additional protection beyond what good sanitation and hygiene practices already offer. The bottom line is that there is no evidence of public health benefits to adding antimicrobials to building products, but there is evidence of harm that they can cause.


Why Should We Be Concerned? There are three main concerns about the use of added antimicrobial chemicals in building products:


They c an have adverse health ef fe c t s . S o m e a nt i m i c ro b i a l s used in building products can harm our health. For example, quaternar y ammonium compounds can adversely impact the human respiratory system.


They can contribute to antimicro bial - resist ant strains of bacteria. Antibiotic-resistant strains of bacteria are real and kill tens of t h o u s a n d s o f C a n a d i a n s a n n u a l l y. There is evidence that the overuse of antimicrobials in consumer products and building materials can contribute to this antibiotic resistance.


They can create a false sense of se cur it y for users. Pe o p le using products advertised to “keep you


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Green experts issue antimicrobial use warning In April, leading green building organizations, architects, and scientists released a joint statement warning that building materials with added antimicrobials have no proven health benefit—and may be harmful. Signed authors include: Healthy Building Network, Green Science Policy Institute, Perkins&Will, International Living Future Institute and Health Product Declaration Collaborative. Additional signatories are Heather Buckley, Assistant Professor, University of Victoria; Erica Hartmann, Assistant Professor, Northwestern University; Megan R. Schwarzman, Associate Director, Berkeley Center for Green Chemistry; Brightworks Sustainability; ZGF Architects; Health Care Without Harm; Center for Environmental Health; and HKS, Inc. Antimicrobials used in building products include quaternary ammonium compounds, which are associated with asthma—a potential risk factor for severe COVID-19. Triclosan, which can disrupt hormone functioning, is banned in hand soaps but is still used in some building products. However, the identities of the chemicals used in products are often not disclosed. The statement concludes that antimicrobials should not be used in building products when not required for product preservation. The authors urge building product manufacturers to practice truthful advertising and to disclose the compounds they use. They also call for more hazard assessments and research.

What Can Be Done? • Follow the lea d o f o r g a n i z a t i o n s like Healthcare W ithout Harm and prefer building materials that don’t make claims or imply that the antimicrobials are added to protect public health. • Prefer products with public materials disclosures. Often, specific chemicals

that are regulated and/or are known to be harmful get replaced by chemicals that can be equally as harmful or about which little is known. The good news is that there is a rapidly growing transparency movement in the building products world. By preferring products with published Health Product Declarations or Declare labels, you can make informed decisions

and reward companies who participate in these initiatives. • Learn more. To read more about the concerns related to using antimicrobials in building products and to see a list of leading architects, designers, and scientists who support the exercise of caution in their use, check out the Joint Statement on Antimicrobials in Building Products. 1 Ryan Johnson is a Materials Researcher for Healthy Building Network (HBN). He holds a BS in Chemistry and an MS in Environmental Health Sciences, and has a background in indoor air quality and epidemiological data analysis. He currently works with the HBN team, researching trends in building product formulations and generating guidance for selecting materials that reduce concerns related to human health and the environment. Since 2000, HBN has defined the leading edge of healthy building practices that increase transparency in the building products industry, reduce human exposures to hazardous chemicals, and create market incentives for healthier innovations in manufacturing. A team of researchers, engineers, scientists, building experts, and educators work to reduce toxic chemical use, minimize hazards, and eliminate exposure, especially to those chemicals of concern that are deemed unnecessary or fail to improve product performance. HBN promotes the development of affordable green chemistry solutions that support a healthy, successful, circular economy.

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Prepping For High-Wind Events Some people might be surprised to learn that Canada is the


world’s second most tornado-prone nation after the United States. Canada experiences 80 to 100 tornadoes every year during the tornado season of March through October.

18 CONDOBUSINESS | Part of the REMI Network


When thunderstorms are brewing, if weather conditions are right, the storms can produce severe winds and even in some circumstances, tornadoes. Property managers are encouraged not to underestimate the potential and power of the elements when thunderstorm warnings are issued. This past August, Barrie, Ontario was hit by a tornado that left a five-kilometre-long path of destruction resulting in $75 million in damage. It reached wind speeds of up to 210 km per hour, displaced many people and families and wreaked havoc on over 150 homes. Fortunately, there were no fatalities, but 60 homes were deemed "unsafe to enter". While there’s little that can be done to protect a building from the direct hit of a tornado, certain building types can withstand high winds more than others, and there are also considerations for how new building structures can be designed to withstand intense windstorms. Concrete and steel buildings, by their nature, are more resilient structurally to severe wind impacts. However, this does not mean they are impervious. Often these structures are clad in glass curtain walls which can be very susceptible to impact damage during a storm. When damage occurs, it also allows for water to enter the structure, as well as creates the hazard of falling glass in the surrounding area. Conventional wood frame structures are not generally as structurally strong as concrete ones. Direct impacts from tornadoes or extreme straight-line winds can often result in substantial structural damage, including the displacement of roof structures and in some circumstances total structural failures (collapse). Modern construction practices are now being adopted in some areas, including the requirement for hurricane straps on trusses and vertical reinforcements to be installed during the framing stage that can substantially increase the survivability of these structures. Unfortunately for legacy buildings, these modifications are not normally possible or practical due to the extensive redesign that would be required. Owners and managers of legacy wood frame structures should always look to upgrade their building envelope (roofing, cladding, windows and doors) to make them more resilient to wind damage.

The Insurance Bureau of Canada reported that weather-related property damage and loss caused $2.4 billion in insured damage in Canada in 2020, quadruple that of just a decade ago.

During new construction, especially in areas that are prone to these wind events, additional structural reinforcement of these types of buildings, even in excess of local codes, is highly recommended. Beyond building design and focusing on structural resilience, proper t y managers should be proactive in prioritizing planning and response plans in the event of a severe weather event. Thunderstorm events and storms that contain high winds with the potential to develop into tornadoes develop very quickly and with little warning. With any disaster, awareness of potential hazards and preparedness is key to mitigating and managing damage to properties and maintaining safety of residents. By having a comprehensive plan in place, property managers can get back on their feet as quickly as possible after an event takes place. Here are tips property managers can include in their emergency preparation plans for their properties and their residents:


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• Stay informed. When a severe thunderstorm, windstorm or tornado develops, there may not be a lot of time to prepare, but sometimes there is an early warning. • E n s u r e h e a l t h a n d s a f e t y of occupants through proper communication and protocols before, during and after an event. • Secure loose outdoor objects. Any unsecured item, such as garbage bins, potted plants, bikes and toys, can become a deadly projectile in high winds. Move these indoors, or tie them down, to avoid injury to people or damage to the property.

• B a c k u p e l e c t r o n i c d e v i c e s . T his step is critic al for building management and residents. Critical data should be stored off-site in case physical computers or devices are damaged or inaccessible due to a tornado. • E n s u r e t h e r e i s a d e q u a t e insuranc e cove rage. Proper t y managers should check their policies to make sure they’re covered for damage caused by wind or rain. This generally includes damage caused by flying debris or falling branches or trees, or damage when water enters through openings caused by high winds.

• I n s t a l l s u r g e p r o t e c t o r s . • Inspect buildings after a disaster. Windstorms and tornadoes often Tornadoes’ strong winds have the down trees which can cause power potential to hurl debris hundreds of outages, followed by power surges metres, so it’s always best practice when electricity is restored. Surge to inspect your building for damage. protectors help protect electronic Otherwise, the next time it rains, devices from voltage spikes caused by you may have some substantial water 1 2018-04-13 2:44 PM power DelProperty_Condo_March_2018_torevise.pdf surges. damage.











20 CONDOBUSINESS | Part of the REMI Network


• Test emergen c y p l a n s . Testing emergency response plans can often reveal areas that need improvement. A nnu al testing c an ensure that everyone knows what to do should the need arise. • Establish a par tnership with a full-service property restoration company. Having a program in place and knowing whom to call can provide property managers with peace of mind. It’s important to have a team you can count on if damage does occur to your property. • W h i l e t h e r e i s n o w a y t o guarantee complete protec tion from weather- related events, pre p are d nes s and awarenes s of risks will help managers ensure they can weather the storm no matter which direction the wind shifts. 1 Jim Mandeville is senior project manager, Large Loss North America for First Onsite Property Restoration

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PANDEMIC RELIEF FOR LANDLORDS AND CONDO BOARDS 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 and Condo 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.


AT HOME IN TH Condo developers are catering to the rise of the hybrid office, with new co-working spaces that promise something for all work styles.

24 CONDOBUSINESS | Part of the REMI Network



The content studio at Verge Condos. Image courtesy of Norm Li and RioCan Living. | September 2021 25


A content studio with a green screen for producing videos and felt wall panels and acoustic ceiling tiles for recording the next great podcast has all the vibes of a cool, downtown office for creative types. But there’s no morning commute to get there. Arising from the undying love Canadians have for social networks, the studio is a new take on co-working space at the upcoming Verge Condos in Etobicoke, Ontario. And in an era where hybrid work arrangements might be here to stay, it’s just an elevator button away from home. “The idea evolved from the understanding that not everyone has the same work-from-home needs, and people are creating content for both personal and professional uses,” says Kalliopi Karkas, assistant vice president, RioCan Living. “It's something we know people need and will continue to need in the future." A new hybrid reality is starting to emerge. A survey in August from ADP Canada and Maru Public Opinion finds that 60 per cent of Canadian workers have gotten word on their employer’s return-towork plans, and more than half were offered a hybrid or completely flexible schedule. Though co-working space predates the pandemic, it is taking on new resonance in the design world as remote work brings more precision and fresh perspectives to this amenity.

“One of the good things about COVID is that it solidified a purpose for these areas much more succinctly,” says Adèle Rankin, managing principal at B+H Architects. “Before, the amenity spaces in these towers would be larger, sprawling and more flexible spaces. Everybody was a little shy about assigning it very specific purposes.” Observing people working at home has made it easier for designers to anticipate the diverse needs of multiple residents, with office buildings and hotels providing some inspiration. Private and collective work areas, and Zoom rooms with clean backgrounds and no barking dogs, bring balance. “We recently just proposed a type of design that allows for a large communal-type space, with dividers that feel library-like,” says Rankin. “You’re there and you’re all together, but you can still maintain that privacy and safety and health.” Of the projects she is working on, boardrooms are being chopped down into smaller meeting rooms that “cater to the everyday”

Traditional offices inspired the co-working spaces at M2M SQUARED, which come equipped with full-sized photocopiers and other necessities. Image courtesy of Aoyuan International.

26 CONDOBUSINESS | Part of the REMI Network


Biophilic elements adorn a co-working space at SXSW Condos in Vaughan, Ont. Image courtesy of Primont Homes.

rather than sporadic users, and co-working spaces are starting to look more domestic— a compelling extension of one’s home. Kitchen areas that were typically sidelined now command a stronger presence. Much like a kitchen in one’s home, they become an informal meeting space, too, and a place to offer hospitality to guests or clients, she adds. Furniture style also plays a role. Partition seating reminiscent of an airport lounge and comfortable cocoonstyle chairs create moments of exploration. Residential co-working spaces are also becoming more social. “There is a reason people like to work in settings such as coffee shops,” notes Figure3 Principal Dominic De Freitas. “The relaxed atmosphere, the freedom and flexibility, the informal interactions. People enjoy the social buzz and often feel more creative in that kind of setting.” As leader of the firm’s residential studio, he says a variety of settings and mini environments will help meet the needs and numbers of residents working at home. “Thoughtfulness of design is what really elevates a co-working space,” he says. “Everyone works in different ways based on their needs, so choice of work setting is very important, including different types of spaces and seating.” Lately, maker spaces, which are social in their own right, have been finding new meaning among tower dwellers. Rankin says they’re a sign people don’t have to compromise because they chose a condo over a single-family home. “If you’re living in a 600 square foot space, but you're a woodworker or jewelry designer and you don’t have a garage to rent out, does that mean you don’t do it anymore? Or does it mean you have to give up your dining room and now it’s your studio?”

B+H Architects designed the lounge at Telford on the Walk by Intracorp, in Burnaby, B.C. Image courtesy of CHIL Interior Design, the hospitality and residential studio of B+H Architects.

Commercial Cues Developer Aoyuan International is anticipating the long-lasting effects of more flexible work arrangements at M2M SQUARED, the second phase of its North York community M2M Condos. Pre-pandemic plans called for one co-working lounge, but now there will be two. They will feature dedicated rooms for video calls and meetings, and larger-sized document centres equipped with full-sized photocopiers and traditional office equipment. | September 2021 27


The co-working space at Verge Condos will have bookable meeting rooms of various sizes. Image courtesy of Norm Li and RioCan Living.

“We are looking at what was present in office spaces and generally what the needs were,” says Vince Santino, senior vice president of Aoyuan International, Toronto. With space at a premium in the mixed-use condo, one challenge was making sure that co-working space is optimized to the highest level and big enough to be effective. Workplace props, like informal break-out areas to foster collaboration, were already trendy in office settings, with details like stand-up desks or private phone booths for open floor plans, which Rankin has already implemented into large hotel lobbies. And much like a hotel, seamless access to a comfortable exterior space is a holistic detail at the forefront in many new condo projects. At M2M SQUARED, co-working lounges directly connect to outdoor amenities on the fifth floor, leading to a dog run and tea garden. Same goes for Figure3’s Buckingham Condo at Grand Central Mimico and Adagio in Yorkville. Attune To Technology Over at Verge Condos, workspace is slated for suites and common areas. Forty per cent of the floor plans include a dedicated office or desk space. There will also be a traditional co-working space, from which the content studio will extend.

28 CONDOBUSINESS | Part of the REMI Network

While demand is expected, there are ways to truly make this condo amenity serve the greater good. As Karkas says, “to be successful at working remotely you need a space that promotes efficiency and wellness.” Ample natural light and ergonomic seating were carefully considered at Verge. So too was ease of technology, which falls on a spectrum from simple to high level: conveniently placed electrical outlets and an amenity booking system that reserves spots for working or hosting clients via an integrated smart home technology platform. “It’s not just having the space in your building that makes it a great feature,” says Karkas. “This increases your ability to use it efficiently and build it into your day, and know when that availability is there.” Of course, outfitting these spaces with technology comes with challenges. “Tech changes fast, so the spaces need to be designed with future flexibility in mind,” says De Freitas. “This means furniture that can be moved and reconfigured, touchless and wireless devices integrated into the design, and rooms outfitted with proper A/V equipment.” Yet another issue lies in determining how much technology to provide without the burden of ongoing maintenance, says Rankin. Unlike hotels with staff members always on hand for troubleshooting, condo concierges have their hands full.

FEATURE In the near future, though, more condo corporations will likely have to determine how much effort goes into upkeep and replacement. Either way, hybrid work models could possibly be the norm, and when this happens, newer condos will be welcoming residents into co-working spaces with no one-size-fits-all approach. Of SXSW Condos in Vaughan, De Freitas calls the co-working lounge a “large, bright space with organic materials and biophilic elements, with access to lots of natural light from the outdoors.” In contrast to this urban retreat feel, the co-working space at 8 Wellesley, in downtown Toronto, is “styled like an exclusive VIP lounge to entertain partners and clients, and includes private booths and social lounges.” Other designs bring a twist to the concept. “We are designing a space that is more specific to a young adult or teen lounge,” says Rankin.”It's not the kids playroom and it's not an elevated working space, but something in between for them to gather with other teens in the building. “We’re excited to be on the cusp of all of this change and happy that interior design can play a really big role in creating a better home for people—that’s always the goal.” 1

A tea garden at M2M Squared will directly connect to the new co-working spaces on the fifth floor. Image courtesy of Aoyuan International.





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Reserve Fund Studies Ignore Climate Target Impacts

Condos not prepared for inevitable effects of 2030 and 2050 emissions goals

Canada signed into the Paris climate accord that sets targets for


greenhouse gas emissions being 30 per cent lower than 2005 levels by 2030 and net-zero by 2050. Many of us believe this is a high-level

statement that has no bearing on how condominiums are managed today. After all, 2030 and 2050 are a long way off and we have to tend to our day-to-day obligations, never mind those far into the future. Right? Here’s the hard truth that many of us have not faced yet: our reserve fund studies with 30-, 45- and 60-year projections for expenses take us past the 2030 targets (just nine years from now) and smack dab into the 2050 net-zero emissions targets. How does this affect condominiums? Good question. The condominium industry is not taking steps to prepare condo corporations for the inevitable effects of the targets.

Buildings are one of the top sources of greenhouse gas emissions in Canada, so there’s no way condominiums will escape scrutiny. In 2019, buildings accounted for 12 per cent of emissions— more than the heavy industrial sector. Net-zero is defined as our economy either emitting no greenhouse gas emissions or offsetting emissions. For condos, we only have to look at heating boilers and domestic

30 CONDOBUSINESS | Part of the REMI Network

hot water heating boilers, or any other gas burning appliance to find large emissions contributors. Did I mention the emergency generators? Recently, we saw carbon taxes applied to natural gas and gasoline and we can only predict that these carbon taxes will increase as we get closer to 2030 and then again as we near 2050, making gas far too expensive for condominiums.


No longer is it reasonable to disregard the post- climate -target economy by choosing to ignore the foreseeable reality that natural gas will simply be too expensive for condominium owners to use as fuel. Today’s reserve fund expenses contain “like for like” costs that account for endof-life replacement of various boilers. But looking forward, we can’t afford to simply accrue funds for replacing the current heating systems with newer gas-burning appliances. This means that our current projected replacement costs for gas-burning appliances is dreadfully underfunded. Will it be electric boilers supported by geothermal heat storage? Deep water supply for cooling and heating? Renewable energy sources? It’s simply too soon to predict what we will replace our gas-burning, greenhousegas-producing appliances with. The question we should be asking is, “Is it too early to start accruing funds for the 2030 and 2050 new net-zero world?” With just 29 years to accrue funds and search out new lower emission appliances and building systems, we should be having these conversations now. I will also bet that

not a single reserve fund study in place today has taken the position to accrue funds for what will surely be an expensive change to alternate heating systems. We should be asking our reser ve fund planners to look at the Paris accord target dates and compare the end-of-life replacement of our gas-burning appliances against the target dates. As we near 2030, and again in 2050, we need to ensure that we are accruing funds that will leave us in a good financial position to look at alternate heating sources without placing the full burden on future residents. M ake no mist ake, there is large international momentum around reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Close to 200 countries have committed to fighting climate change. Fur ther, economic damage from the COVID pandemic has motivated governments to look at this as an opportunity to create high-value jobs in high -tech, engineering, and construction sectors. In the fall of 2020, the Canada Infrastructure bank announced a $2-billion initiative as one component of a $10-billion strategy to stimulate green

economic growth to help meet Canada’s commitment to reduce emissions. The choices are clear: do nothing and see the devastating ef fects on condominiums when they are forced to pay large sums of money (not accrued) to switch out gas-burning and greenhouse gas- emit ting appliances or live with exorbitant carbon taxes, placing the cost of living in a condominium out of reach for most people. Or, prudent boards of directors can start accruing for the inevitable now so that funds are available when needed, thereby keeping the cost of living and the cost of purchasing a condominium affordable relative to neighbouring buildings today and in the future. Let’s start by asking our reserve fund planners to address the 2030 and 2050 targets in the next reserve fund study update. We all bet ter hurr y; time is running out. 1 Murray Johnson is vice president of client operations at Crossbridge Condominium Services Ltd and the president of CCI Toronto. | September 2021 31




How sustainable floor matting contributes to higher IAQ and lower carbon footprints Healthier living and greener spaces have become top attractors for condo residents. At the same time, multifamily owners and managers are recognizing the benefits of adopting practices and materials that contribute to more sustainable operations. “Just like their peers in offices and commercial spaces, multifamily teams are becoming increasingly aware of how much ESG [environmental, social, and governance] initiatives mean to occupants and investors,” says Jeff Grabinsky, VP of Business Development with Executive Mat Service. Certainly, there is a growing market for multifamily buildings that demonstrate a meaningful commitment to greener living. And, given the mounting anxieties over indoor air quality (IAQ), there is also a strong motivation for condo stakeholders to provide a breath of fresh air. “The pandemic has really driven home the need to boost IAQ by any means possible, and that has a lot of condo stakeholders taking a fresh look at what their products and materials are putting out into the environment,” adds Grabinsky. A CASE STUDY FOR GREENER MATTING Matting isn’t typically the first place that facility management teams look when improving their environmental footprint. And yet, a large portion of floor matting found in condo buildings today is made up of PVC with vinyl backing and edging. A study by the California Air Resources Board found forty chemicals, some of which are toxic, off-gassing from PVC flooring. Moreover, LEED Canada highlights in its certification process of LEED buildings the importance of low-emitting materials in floor matting by stating its intent to, “reduce the quantity of indoor air containments that are odorous, potentially irritating and /or harmful to the comfort of and well-being of installers or occupants.” With this in mind, Grabinsky says there are advances in recycled matting materials and water-saving cleaning services that warrant a second look: “Not many people consider how matting can make a difference when it comes to climate change and sustainability, but the truth is mat materials, and cleaning techniques are significant factors.” “If you want to start looking for ways to reduce airborne pollutants and keep your public spaces clean, start by looking down,” he adds. A STUDY IN GREEN MATTING Executive Mat Service (EMS) has taken sustainability to heart since it was founded in 1996. Over the decades since, the mat rental company has partnered with residential, commercial, and industrial property management teams throughout Canada to providing mats and matting services that emphasize cleaner living. “Our goal from the start has been to tackle climate change from an embodied carbon standpoint, whether that’s through the way we make our mats or how we service them,” says Grabinsky.


EMS'S ONE-BILLION POUND CO2 CHALLENGE The One-Billion Pound CO2 challenge is an in-house initiative created by EMS to help current and future customers divert or reduce One-Billion pounds of CO2 by using EMS’s matting products and services. In addition to providing the materials and services to help achieve this goal, the company maintains an online Sustainability Ledger that helps clients track their progress.

Highlights of EMS's eco-forward strategy include: • Carbon-friendly matting: EMS’s Waterhog floor mats are made from 100% recycled pop bottle (PET) fibres and certified green friendly. • Innovative cleaning tech: EMS founder Kim Carom has created a patented CDF mat washing system that uses 95% less water than industry standards. Moreover, EMS has fine-tuned its cleaning services and techniques to require fewer back and forth visit. For example, says Grabinsky, “Your building may be very carbon neutral, but if you’re getting someone to come in and take your mats for cleaning every week, as opposed to our four or 12-week cycles, that’s going to result in CO2 production along the way.” • Carbon tracking: EMS supplies clients with a CO2 carbon intensity measure for each floor matting SKU on its invoicing. It also provides reporting services to help property teams track and communicate their ESG initiatives. “If you think about it, most CO2 tracking is focused on vehicles, your lighting, or the cement that goes into your building. What we’re doing is showing how the mats coming in and out of the building also make an impact,” says Grabinsky. • Crypto-clean: EMS created an “eco-bit” cryptocurrency to reward low-carbon behaviours among its clients. Each eco-bit represents 1-pound of CO2 reduction over the course of a calendar year and can be used as payment towards EMS services. • New client incentives: EMS provides a value-add discount to new customers. After year one of implementing their new EMS matting program, customers can opt to have their building’s CO2 reduction quantified and validated by a third party. Results are then tiered against the Canadian Federal carbon tax rate, and appropriate discounts are applied to the second year of the customer’s program.

ON THE GROUND FLOOR There is a growing demand for greener, healthier spaces. Matting isn't the only answer, but it is a proven step in the right direction. “Sustainability a big priority right now,” insists Grabinsky. “What we want to do is give multifamily teams an easy way to make good on their ESG goals while also outfitting their spaces with strong, durable matting.” Executive Mat Service is Canada’s only ISO14001 (Environmental) & COR Safety Certified mat rental company in Canada. For more, visit, email, or call 1-877-290-7711.

Nova Scotia Proposes Property Tax Premiums Nova Scotia’s new provincial gover nment is sig na l l ing looming property tax premiums for nonresident purchasers and owners.


Incoming Finance Minister Allan MacMaster

has been instructed to introduce a provincial deed transfer tax and to impose an additional levy equating to $2 per every $100 of assessed value for residential ratepayers who pay their income tax in other jurisdictions.

34 CONDOBUSINESS | Part of the REMI Network


“On certain properties, once you get to sizable value, it’s going to be a pretty heavy tax for some people.”

The two tasks are included in MacMaster’s mandate letter, one of the series of legislative to-do lists that Premier Tim Houston recently delivered to all his newly installed cabinet ministers following the Conservative party’s August 17th election victory. Plans for the new surcharges were first outlined in the new government’s campaign platform, which also cited 2018 Statistics Canada estimates that non-residents own 3.9 per cent of Nova Scotia’s housing stock (excluding purposebuilt multifamily rental properties), a higher rate than in either British Columbia or Ontario. “There is currently some legitimate concern that many properties are being purchased by non-residents, who may or may not plan to spend time in those properties,” the platform document states. “We will impose a new tax and property levy for buyers who do not pay income tax in Nova Scotia. These fees will limit purchases from non-Nova Scotia income taxpayers and, for those who do purchase, will bring in an added regular stream of revenue for the province.”

Some observers hypothesize the latter consideration is the more pressing motivation. New revenue could help offset the costs of other tax-related campaign promises. Those include a provincial income tax exemption on the first $50,0 0 0 of earnings for construction workers under the age of 30, and a pilot five-year 50 per cent rebate on provincial corporate taxes if companies pay the savings back to employees through new hires or salary increases. “There is always commentary around potential changes in tax revenue or potential new opportunities for tax revenue. I think there’s been an especially high emphasis on that kind of thing given the pandemic and given the financial situations of governments and municipalities,” observes Ryan Hartlen, a real estate broker with RE/MAX Nova in Halifax. “A hot real estate market has contributed to the idea that not only would this probably be a pretty healthy amount of money, but it would probably be more acceptable for voters.” C l a r i t y L a c k i n g O n Ta r g e t e d Residential Ratepayers The proposed provincial deed transfer tax would be added on top of the one-time municipal deed transfer tax that all new purchasers submit to their applicable local government at rates varying from 0.5 to 1.5 per cent of the property sale price, depending on the municipality. Directions to the Finance Minister refer broadly to imposing the proposed new property levy on “every non-Nova Scotian taxpayer held property” although it has thus far been framed only as a measure to dissuade non-resident investors from speculating in the homebuyers’ market.

“Under the assessment legislation, residential property is a broad category that covers not only single-family homes, but also residential rental properties of all sizes, manufactured home communities and seniors housing,” explains Giselle Kakamousias, vice president, property tax, with the Atlantic Canada real estate advisory firm, Turner Drake & Partners. “We trust that in the details (of the legislation) the new government will target the taxes appropriately vis-à-vis its stated objective of improving affordability.” “On the commercial side, there is a significant amount of investors that own real estate under holding companies outside of Nova Scotia. These companies (if included) would have to undergo additional cost to transfer their holdings into Nova Scotia holding companies,” advises Mathieu Maillet, senior director, property tax, for Altus Group in Atlantic Canada. “The proposal does nothing to promote investment and growth in our province.” Hartlen estimates 20 to 30 per cent of the transactions he conducts are for out-of-province buyers from elsewhere in Canada and beyond. Many are former Nova Scotia residents with plans to return in the future. He suggests they’ll more likely react to an additional deed transfer tax, which will be immediately added to closing costs, than a property tax bill they may not receive until months after they’ve taken ownership, particularly if they are paying steeper property taxes on a principle residence elsewhere. There’s also a possibility that Nova Scotiataxpaying short-term tenants could take on the burden. | September 2021 35


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“It could have the undesired impact of decreasing affordability in the instance where out-of-province developers and investors simply pass the additional tax onto the end-user,” says Neil Lovitt, vice president, planning and economic intelligence, with Turner Drake & Partners. Meanwhile, given that non-resident purchasers face much higher land transfer tariffs in Vancouver (20 per cent) and Toronto (15 per cent) than the 5 per cent provincial deed transfer tax proposed in the Conservative campaign platform, he calls it a somewhat dubious deterrent on purchasers intent on speculation. Additionally, Vancouver is set to increase its vacant unit tax to 3 per cent on assessed values that are typically much higher than in Nova Scotia. “To date, we have seen no analysis on this, but suspect they (the surcharges) will do a better job of raising funds than materially affecting market trends,” Lovitt submits. “It may have an impact in rural areas where out-of-province buyers are more likely to own recreational properties and not have Nova Scotia addresses.” Fallout Expected For Recreational Property Owners And Host Municipalities There’s general consensus that recreational property owners and the municipalities that host them will be hardest hit. Hartlen foresees a double-whammy of the new tax premium in step with upward spiking property values as assessments catch up with recent market trends. “On certain properties, once you get to sizable value, it’s going to be a pretty heavy tax for some people. The worry is, what does it do to the people who have family cottages here? You’re going to have some people decide they’re not going to own those properties here anymore, especially if they can find similar type properties in other parts of Atlantic Canada,” he projects. The Nova Scotia Association of Realtors (NSAR) reports an average residential sale price of $442,000 in Halifax in August 2021, a 19 per cent gain over August 2020. Although the average sale price was more modest, even greater year-over-year increases of upwards of 35 per cent were recorded in the Annapolis Valley, the Highland Region and Yarmouth. The 2021 RE/MAX Recreational Property Report pegged the average sales price of waterfront properties in the Halifax vicinity at about $698,000 during the first four months of this year, which, at the proposed rate of $2 per $100 of assessed value, would equate to almost $14,000 in extra annual property taxes for out-of-province owners. “NSAR and our members believe this tax will be detrimental to out-of-province owners, many of whom are seasonal property owners and contribute significantly to economies of the communities they own property in,” says Roger Boutilier, the association’s chief executive officer. “Residential tax rates in smaller municipalities would be significantly impacted and rendered non-competitive for outside investors, and a number of rural communities depend on out-ofprovince residence economic activity,” Maillet concurs. The new premier has yet to announce the date for his government’s speech from the throne so there is still no indication of when the legislation may be introduced. The Finance Minister’s mandate letter states only that it is to be within the next four years. 1 Barbara Carss is the editor-in-chief of Canadian Property Management.

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June 2018 • Vol. 33 #2

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

14 CONDOBUSINESS | Part of the REMI Network

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The CAT’s Wait-AndSee Approach C ondom i n iu m cor porat ions who are defending against an application brought by a unit owner at


the Condominium Authority Tribunal of Ontario (“CAT”) often wonder

whether they should bring an early motion to dismiss the unit owner’s case before the CAT undergoes a full hearing of the dispute, due to what the condo perceives as a misuse of the CAT process by the unit owner. In certain situations, such a motion to dismiss can be useful – and even successful— to toss out a CAT case before the condo has expended more time, energy, and resources going to an allout Stage 3 hearing. However, generally speaking, the CAT appears to have now adopted a wait-and-see approach, not only with respect to motions to dismiss, but also with respect to the disclosure of records to a unit owner whom the condominium might perceive as problematic.

38 CONDOBUSINESS | Part of the REMI Network

In a recent case, Aquilina v. MSCC 823, 2021 ONCAT 71, a London condominium brought a motion to dismiss a unit owner’s CAT application for being frivolous and vexatious, pursuant to Rule 4.5 of the CAT’s rules of practice. However, the CAT dismissed the motion, and instead proceeded with the full Stage 3 hearing of the records dispute. According to the CAT, “the level of animosity and ill will reached new heights” at this condominium community, and the messages posted in the CAT portal became “very personal and at times very inappropriate”.


The CAT tried to sift through the personal animosity, and ultimately ruled that the unit owner was indeed entitled to the condo’s list of owners that she sought—despite the condo’s assertions that if the list of owners was provided, she would misuse it to harass other owners. This recent case follows a long line of cases (“long” in the context of the CAT’s overall lifespan since being created on November 1, 2017) where the CAT has repeatedly held that a unit owner’s past conduct, even if somewhat problematic, does not automatically disentitle them to access the condominium’s records under Section 55 of the Condominium Act. Instead, the CAT has generally held that the condo should give the requested record to the owner, and then subsequently enforce against that owner if the record is misused. The CAT’s wait-and-see approach may be an iteration of the CAT’s default presumption that unit owners are generally entitled to see their condo’s records and its hope that the unit owner will, once she receives the record, exercise greater care in how she uses it. In another recent case, Calderon v. YCC 274, 2021 ONCAT 70, a Toronto condominium brought a motion to dismiss a unit owner’s five ongoing CAT applications and sought to have the CAT declare that the unit owner was “vexatious” and, therefore, unable to file any new CAT applications without first obtaining the CAT’s permission to do so. The CAT dismissed the condo’s motion and found that the unit owner had not behaved in a vexatious manner even though he filed eight cases with the CAT against the condominium. Instead, the CAT found that the unit owner merely had a “deep mistrust of the condominium”, and that all eight of his CAT cases were permissibly questioning “the fairness and consistency of the corporation’s enforcement of rules”. The CAT wanted to have the ongoing cases proceed as-is, so that each could be decided on their merits instead of being dismissed via motion. T his wait- and - see approach by the C AT is perhaps best evidenced in Yeung v. MTCC 1136, where the Toronto condominium repeatedly asked the CAT to find that the unit owner was a “vexatious” litigant. On May 5, 2020, CAT ViceChair Keegan Ferreira declined to grant the condo’s motion to dismiss for being vexatious. On September 18, 2020, CAT ViceChair Michael Clifton also declined to label the unit owner as a vexatious litigant. It was not until December 17, 2020 when CAT Chair Ian Darling stepped in, that the CAT finally—after the unit owner had filed eight applications to the CAT— declared the unit owner to be a vexatious litigant and required him to obtain the CAT’s permission before filing any new CAT applications. Although the unit owner continued to try and file at least one new CAT application thereafter on January 22, 2021, Darling denied him permission to pursue the new CAT application. So, what changed? According to Darling, what tipped the scales was that the unit owner’s more recent applications were trying to re-litigate old grounds, and the frequency of the new applications had increased in 2020 (one submitted in 2018, two submitted in 2019, and six submitted in 2020). The CAT was

fearful that “without limiting new applications, it is likely that this pattern will continue”. Even then, however, Darling was careful to note that “the number of applications alone is not sufficient to consider them vexatious”. The CAT has not provided a clear, bright-line threshold where a unit owner’s repeated applications bring him into “vexatious litigant” territory—and the CAT is unlikely to provide such clarity in the future. Ultimately, the CAT allows a generous degree of “flex” room for individuals with grievances against their condominium, unless the application is clearly vexatious; then the CAT will generally allow for the case to be heard at least, even if the CAT does not award a penalty or costs to the individual unit owner at the end of the day. Instead of cutting the unit owner’s case short, the CAT appears to prefer waiting and seeing how the case unfolds. Instead of denying the unit owner’s access to their condo’s records, the CAT appears to prefer to trust that the unit owner will not abuse the record once disclosed to them. 1 Victor Yee is a condominium lawyer and litigator at Elia Associates, a law firm that specializes in condominium law. Victor has successfully represented clients at all levels of court in Ontario, in various tribunals throughout the province (including the CAT), and in condominiumrelated mediations and arbitrations. He can be reached via email at

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The library at Glen Hill Condominiums by Lanterra Developments.

Timely and Timeless Alessandro Munge, founder and design director of Studio Munge, has inspired countless condominium and hospitality projects across the globe, evolving physical environments into memorable experiences for over 20 years. Here, he shares thoughts on creating livable spaces, timeless interiors, and trends in luxury condo design.

40 CONDOBUSINESS | Part of the REMI Network


Alessandro Munge

What are some elements of highly livable spaces? Highly livable spaces are relevant and fit for purpose. In the context of global urban densification, condominiums offer an opportunity for many to afford a piece of real estate in prime downtown locations and is also an incredible opportunity to foster a sense of community. I love the word "condominium" because there is a notion of joined venture and community imbued in the word's etymology instead of "apartments,” representing spatial division. A well-developed multi-residential project doesn't behave as boxes stacked in the sky; rather, it acts as an interconnected hive buzzing with life and positive energy. Before specifying a tile or the paint colour on a wall, a designer must first ask the hard questions. Gifted with the power of visualization, we must understand how people live today and project how they might live tomorrow. Our responsibility is to lift communities by exploring the uncomfortable unknown, especially in the condo development sector. Only by taking chances in creating innovative design solutions can we genuinely contribute our expertise to society.

How can a condo achieve timeless décor? Every decade sees its share of trends coming and going like champagne bubbles popping at the surface. Timelessness is achieved by creating meaningful and purposeful spaces— dynamic environments that evoke emotions and resonate on a much deeper level. At Natasha The Residences, inspired by PR maverick Natasha Koifman, we immersed ourselves in our muse's active lifestyle rather than applying design trends. We imagined all amenities as uber social spaces, as complete home extensions, all curated with inspiring art and bespoke furnishings. Using a predominantly monochromatic palette, we created a world where black completes white like a leather jacket thrown over a little black dress. Catering to the modern urbanite, we curated the building with relevant and practical amenities, from a multimedia content production studio to a shared workspace. At the same time, there are lots of areas to relax and congregate in such landscaped garden terraces, a circular fire pit, an open kitchen with an integrated pizza | September 2021 41


From top to bottom: the lobby at Natasha The Residences by Lanterra Developments; a yoga and fitness centre at No. 7 Dale by Platinum Vista; the exterior facade of No. 7 Dale.

oven and even a fashionable laundry mat to mingle in. Although timeless in the design execution, all those spaces bring much more to the building— a comfortable sense of home and a wonderful sense of community. What does luxury design mean in 2021? I always associate luxury with cravings and a desire for the extraordinary. It is whatever you want more of but can't always access. Whichever way luxury is expressed, it is always personal to an individual. I always look deep into the personal lives of our clientele to understand what that word means to them, and ask myself how we can infuse this ephemeral concept into every detail—from immersive architectural volumes to experiential space planning all the way down to custom designed furniture pieces. Our version of luxury isn’t opulence or a stamped and loud display of wealth in a traditional, passé and cliché combination of polished metals, crystal, and marble. We invite sophisticated details, understated quiet luxury expressed in the authenticity and quality of the materials alongside a true appreciation for craftsmanship and art. At No. 7 Dale in Toronto’s Rosedale neighbourhood, luxury is the uncompromised dedication to excellence, starting with the remarkable architecture by Siamak Hariri. It's about creating not just structures, but homes, cultural landmarks, and valuable legacy investments for generations to come. Exquisite yet intimate volumes emanate a great sense of privacy. The material palette evokes warmth and authenticity, featuring natural stone, dark walnut wood, and bronze accents. The 26 private homes are also developed using two distinct schemes to fit the buyer's personal sensibilities, whether contemporary or transitional. No 7 Dale celebrates understated luxury and quality in all forms—from the macro space planning all the way to the artful engineering of all cabinetry. What elements should condo corporations invest in? When it comes to condos as assets, I always tell developers and corporations to invest in the right team, invest in expertise and people that genuinely care. Wallpaper and corridor carpets can be updated, but the space planning and volumes' quality are much harder to correct. 1 Alessandro Munge is the founder and design director of Studio Munge. Studio Munge brings to life luxury residential and hospitality projects in partnership with world-renowned architects, visionary global developers, and top-tier hotel operators from Beverly Hills to Hong Kong.

42 CONDOBUSINESS | Part of the REMI Network


Deadline Set for EnergyUse Data Availability Electricity and gas distributors in Ontario must be ready to provide customers with their energy-use data by November 2023, according to a newly filed regulation setting out the rules for the provincewide rollout of the Green Button program. That will ensure the vast majority of electricity and natural gas account holders can get access to, at minimum, hourly consumption data for a period of up to 24-months. The regulation, which officially comes into force on Nov. 1 this year, instructs designated electricity and gas utilities to comply with the North American standards for the program, which were developed jointly by the North American Energy Standards Board (NAESB) and the non-governmental organization, Green Button Alliance. The Ontario Energy Board (OEB) is currently conducting a consultation on Green Button implementation and will be providing further guidance. Green Button was launched in 2011 when the United States Whitehouse policy office challenged that country’s utilities to come up with a web-based tool through which consumers could find their energy-use data. It’s estimated that about 60 million U.S.

households now have access to their data via Green Button, as do approximately three million Canadian customers of utilities that have voluntarily adopted the program. Under Ontario’s new rules, account holders will be able to directly request their energy-use information or authorize other parties to do so on their behalf. Energy providers will be expected to establish policies and procedures for access, authorization of third parties and protection of privacy, and to comply with other requirements the OEB may impose. A handful of electricity utilities, mostly in northern Ontario, are exempted from the requirements. The regulation also provides for potential extensions to the November 2023 deadline for compliance “on the basis of technical or operational reasons that cannot be addressed at a reasonable cost” or if utilities face undue delays related to NAESB scheduling. The previous Ontario government initially adopted the enabling legislation for the Green Button mandate as part of the former Green Energy Act. The current government transferred the section to the Electricity Act when it invoked the Green Energy Repeal Act in 2018. 1

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Landscaping A New Condo Hotel in Vaughan The land development process for condominiums is an arduous

road to navigate. Satisfying rezonings, site plan approvals and public meetings


while steering a consulting

team is a challenge for any developer. In particular, for one who wants to stay true to a unique overall vision, the process requires energy and enthusiasm.

44 CONDOBUSINESS | Part of the REMI Network


Green-leafed beech provides visual separation as well as wind and noise attenuation. Photo by KFDG Inc.

Enter Hotel Vie, a trend-setting hotel condominium, which will be a new addition to the Château le Jardin Event Venue located in the heart of Vaughan, Ontario. The French word “Vie” means “life,” and the man at the helm of this project embodies it in every aspect of its multifaceted program. Merging hotel suites with offices and a full boutique operation of food, wine and an existing event venue, owner and operator Carlo Parentela is the driving force behind its vision, which extends to the surrounding outdoor elements. An Evolving Landscape The design of Château le Jardin’s grounds has evolved over the years with help from KFDG Inc. An expansion of the courtyards came in 2000 and a photo and ceremony garden (Jardin de Theresa) in 2018. A challenge for Jardin de Theresa at the front of the building was the sheer exposure to Highway 27 and the need to provide enclosure for group photo opportunities and a lush formal garden that would stand up to wind, salt spray and vandalism. The solution was based on a central pathway of unit paver slabs as the spine of the design, allowing for a planting design that has the look and feel of being carefully composed yet has a natural spontaneity to the planting. The symmetry of the layout provides a harmony allowing for beautiful views from many vantage points. Elliptical paths on both ends of the spine provide group photo opportunities. The gazebo and the proposed risers are strategically placed for connection to the main building and a planned exterior event tent on the upper level for many wedding space planning options. The gazebo could be used either as a focal point for the main events or as a congregation area for post-wedding reception parties. This new outdoor room is functional, while providing the facility with a new corporate branding. Breathing Life Into Hotel Vie According to Parentela, the condo hotel will come to life, beginning with the grounds, “then moving into the forest-like water features in the lobby, creating a serene paradise in the Claude Monet Garden Courtyard and a fun and full-of-life rooftop pool and lounge in a retractable glass roof environment.” The front and rear courtyards echo the French Chateau architecture of the existing building. Similarly, the landscape vision will merge with

The grounds of Château le Jardin. Photo by KFDG Inc.

the clean and contemporary theme of the architecture and interior design for Hotel Vie. While designing the hotel grounds, the approach was to reduce high maintenance turf areas with trees, shrubs and perennials that will maintain their beauty against snow, salt and wind. Unique but tough trees like the hardy rubber tree and yearround interest shrubs like February blooming witch hazel round out a totally unique plant list. Within the parking lot, trees were chosen for hardiness and unique varieties that will set the site apart from its neighbours. The shrub and perennial planting is based on boldness of foliage and flower effect. The goal is to create an effect of plant architecture that appears to be bursting out of the hard surfaces around them. The planting design follows a module system with designated blocks of plant material that repeat themselves throughout the parking lot and perimeter areas. This approach extends into the Claude Monet Gardens Greenhouse Courtyard. An extension of the lobby’s water feature, the courtyard provides a pedestrian crossing through a pond-like feature and an arresting oval layout of seat walls intertwined with unique paving treatments and architectural acrylic panels. Paving materials were chosen to echo the lobby interiors and an entrance feature designed in tandem with the architecture. Living and man-made walls define the ground level exterior spaces, providing visual separation as well as wind and noise attenuation. Purple and green-leafed beech and hornbeam hedges and glass panels achieve these objectives, providing improved opportunities for night lighting. As part of the project team's vision, the roof terrace will be a multipurpose space. The strategic use of planters and glass panels will create areas within the space, separate functions and put plant material at eye level for the terrace users when seated. A water and fire combination element will bisect and channel throughout the terrace without disrupting the floor plan of furniture, bar and DJ functions. The goal is to provide the Hotel Vie project with an inspiring creative landscape that will combine exquisite detailing with practical function when its doors open in 2023. 1 Kent Ford is founder and principal of Kent Ford Design Group Inc., a Toronto-based landscape design and project management firm. ( He can be reached at 416-368-7175 or | September 2021 45


ENERGY PROSPECTS Community Net Metering Demo Set For Ontario A 70-acre mixed-use development project in London, Ontario, will be a test site for an electricity generation and sharing model known as community net metering. Sifton Properties’ West 5 — now nearing buildout of approximately 2.5 million square feet of commercial and residential space in an array of low-rise to high-rise buildings targeting net-zero energy and water consumption — has been selected to demonstrate the possibilities, working in consort with London Hydro and with the backing of the Ontario government. “This model is very important in the future of net-zero communities,” says Richard Sifton, president and chief executive officer of Sifton Properties. The concept is an expansion of Ontario’s net metering program, which was enabled through a 2005 provincial regulation. More than 2,000 individual hydro account holders have agreements to generate on-site renewable power to meet part or all of their household/facility demand requirements, and are also connected to the electricity grid so they can pull or dispatch supply as necessary. Net metered customers receive credits on their hydro bills for the power they send to the grid. However, until the Ontario government enacted a regulation earlier this year to authorize community net metering demonstration projects, there was no option to allocate

46 CONDOBUSINESS | Part of the REMI Network

those credits to other hydro accounts. The West 5 development will be the first to do so. “Community net metering allows us to overproduce solar energy on one building, then use that energy in other buildings at West 5,” Sifton explains. “It allows us to continue exploring future opportunities from a community level, not building level. It opens the doors for micro grids, battery storage, high speed bus or car charging.” As Ontario’s first demonstration project, West 5 is expected to be a learning opportunity for electricity utilities that will also derive insight and data on the environmental and economic impact of renewable energy collectives. “London Hydro will develop innovative new tools and technology as well as gain valuable experience in installing and operating a microgrid,” predicts Vinay Sharma, the utility’s chief executive officer. “Net metering innovation harnesses clean, green technology to save taxpayers money — a combination that we all can get behind,” says David Piccini, Ontario Minister of the Environment, Conservation and Parks. “I look forward to seeing the results of this demonstration and what net metering can mean for more projects that support a sustainable future.”


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