Condo bylaws get into the weeds
Andre Rocher’s first thought upon hearing that his condo building would ban the smoking of marijuana after it’s legalized was that the move would be “very unfair” for homeowners.
But Rocher has since changed his mind, after thinking “of those homeowners who bought, say, a million-dol- lar condo or a $2-million condo, and now their rightful enjoyment of their property is going to be affected.”
Bracing for impending legalization of marijuana, condominium properties are starting to enact policies around its use. At least one building has essentially banned smoking pot anywhere on its premises, even on balconies.
Rocher’s building, OneEleven Condos, on Bathurst St. near King St. W., recently banned all smoking in common spaces, on balconies or inside suites, said condo board president Curtis Priest.
“It’s not about preventing someone from doing something in their suite,” Priest said. “It’s about putting in place a legal tool that we have to use if issues come up in the future.”
Priest clarified that’s it not a cannabis ban; it’s a ban on combustion, including tobacco. Edibles, for example, would be OK upon legalization.
According to the province, recreational pot, once legal, will only be permitted for use within private homes. Condo boards can set their own rules around a number of issues and board presidents at OneEleven Condos and another condo, Emerald City One near Don Mills Rd. and Sheppard Ave. E., say rules restricting cannabis use are necessary due to the fact that spaces are shared.
“Ultimately, it’s because we live in a multi-dwelling condominium and we share air,” said Priest, who noted the policy is meant to serve as a “solid baseline” once marijuana is legalized, which is expected to happen this summer. He said the board can then re-evaluate “what makes the most sense for our community.”
Emerald City One board president Andreea Birloncea said the condo is drafting a policy concerning “odour transfer.”
“It’s not a ban on marijuana; it’s a ban on odour,” Birloncea said.
Toronto condo lawyer Denise Lash said condos are moving quickly to limit the amount of smokers, expected to spike with legalization. Right now, preexisting tobacco smokers, including people who use medical marijuana, can strike agreements to be exempt from new rules.
“Since marijuana is not legal yet (unless for medical use), the only smokers that would be grandfathered now would be tobacco smokers,” Lash said in a written response to the Star. “If corporations wait until after marijuana is legalized, then they would have to grandfather all existing tobacco and marijuana users.”
Michael Goldrich, president of Goldview Property Management, which oversees about 80 condos in the Toronto area, including OneEleven, said the policy is to ensure that owners’ “quiet enjoyment is respected and (deal with) issues with second-hand smoke.” Unit owners can always ask for a meeting within 30 days and vote against the rule, Goldrich said.
“My understanding is that the majority of the condos are looking at making rule changes,” said Goldrich, who added that the rules can vary by board and are not “written in stone.”
Naomi Matlow has been renting at OneEleven Condos since October.
“I would consider it the same as how you shouldn’t smoke cigarettes in your unit,” she said.
Matlow added that, while sound sometimes goes through the walls, she’s “never really had a problem with smells.”
Rocher owns his unit at OneEleven Condos, and added that he doesn’t think “there’s a perfect answer” or solution to what the building’s policy is looking to fix. But, he said, there are plenty of odourless ways to ingest marijuana.
“If anybody wants marijuana that badly — and they do, I’m sure — there are edibles.”
OneEleven Condos, located on Bathurst St. near King St. W., forbids smoking anywhere on its premises. “It’s about putting in place a legal tool that we have to use if issues come up in the future,” said condo board president Curtis Priest.