Our homes are our castles, or so we hope. But when it comes to this city´s condos, there is clearly work to be done.
This past Monday, one of the largest crowds I´ve witnessed at a WSIC event squeezed its way into the Duke of York pub, just to hear Trinity-Spadina MPP Rosario Marchese give his thoughts on the state of the condo business in Toronto. The evening proved a lively one, too.
That´s partly because Marchese goes way back on the condo issue. He opened the evening by describing his proposed private member´s bill, intended to amend the current Condo Act. Almost everyone agrees that the Condo Act needs reform, but it has gone unchanged since the late 90s.
This is not due to lack of effort on Marchese´s part. The MPP continued his brief remarks by explaining the various challenges his bill has faced over the years (this is not the first time, nor even the third time, that he´s tried to make it law). There appears to be no clear villain in this debate; just a lot of people defending their own interests and communicating poorly with one another. And some of the blame, Marchese admitted, rests with condo owners themselves.
While they´re the chief victims of bad design, inflated prices, and false advertising, condo owners rarely see themselves as part of a bigger group. If they did, Marchese said, they could advocate with a lot more strength. Turnouts like the one he saw on Monday give him hope.
Indeed, many members of the audience were condo owners, and they highlighted many of the issues that cause them concern. Among them: the lack of standardization in condo agreements; the lack of impartial oversight and/or regulation when it comes to condo construction and sales; power imbalances between owners and developers; politicking on condo boards; and the difficulty in distinguishing good developers from bad ones-at least, if you´re an average condo buyer without specialized knowledge.
Not everyone agreed on how the problems could be solved-or even if the problems really were problems. Some audience members disagreed with Marchese´s solutions and proposed their own. The presence of Condo Owners Association President Linda Pinizzotto, Association of Condominium Managers of Ontario President Dean McCabe and Todd Hafley of the Liberty Village Residents Association-not to mention the press-kept the energy-level particularly high. Marchese agreed to stay an extra 30 minutes, to ensure everyone´s questions and comments could be addressed.
A big night for a big issue-and a big one WSIC, too.