Condo reforms not dead yet
Bill could be revived in new session of legislature
Proposed amendments to Alberta’s Condominium Property Act are in limbo, but for some calling for changes, this may be a blessing in disguise.
The former Bill 13, tabled earlier this year, aimed at protecting condo buyers and existing owners, enhancing condo board transparency, increasing disclosure of initial condo fees, and it also called for the creation of a tribunal to settle disputes.
The bill, along with all other unpassed legislation on the province’s Order Paper, technically died in September when new Premier Jim Prentice prorogued the fall sitting of the legislature. Service Alberta says it remains to be seen if the Condominium Property Amendment Act is revived during the next session.
“At this point, we’re still waiting to find out the direction of the legislative agenda for all pieces of legislation, not just this one,” says Service Alberta public affairs officer Scott Seymour.
Some of the major amendments proposed by Bill 13 were the creation of a tribunal, and adding mechanisms to allow consumers expanded access to important information both before and after buying a condo, says Bernie Winter, president of Condo360 Inc., who was engaged in stakeholder consultation about the amendments.
“The biggest message (in the bill) is the condo owners are the true stakeholders,” she says. “They need to get involved and speak up and start lobbying people for these changes. The gov- ernment needs to know that bill needs to get back on the table; it should be a priority bill.”
Jim Rivait, CEO of Canadian Home Builders’ Association-Alberta, says reintroducing the bill might provide the province with a chance to revisit some ideas that didn’t make it into Bill 13.
“We believe it wasn’t ready and there was more discussion needed,” he says.
For example, Rivait says, while the amendments called for condo managers to be licensed, there was nothing about licensing builders “so if a bad actor steps in, measures could be taken. We’ve had people providing condos who have been good actors for a long, long time. But some outliers would need to be addressed.”
Rivait says the bill was heavily weighted on protecting the consumer, which is important, but it could have offered stronger protections for builders, too.
Amending the act is vital to keep up with the fact half of all housing starts these days are multi-family, says Rivait. “The majority of the act is about how people live together and work together in managing their housing,” he says. “The number of people living in condos is increasing, not getting less. It’s very important it gets done right.”