Condo re­forms not dead yet

Bill could be re­vived in new ses­sion of leg­is­la­ture

Calgary Herald - Calgary Herald New Condos - - New Condos - ALEX FRAZER-HAR­RI­SON

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.”

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