It’s December, and many people are looking forward to the sights, sounds, colours, foods, gifts and festivities with celebration in mind. Others might be taking a more philosophical approach and choosing to reflect on the past year while looking forward to what lies ahead.
Although we achieved many high points in 2021 with vaccination rollouts, high immunization rates and now vaccines for kids aged 5–12, the pandemic is not over. Since we don’t have a crystal ball, we will take this opportunity to look back on many significant events that took place within the Ontario condominium industry in 2021.
Here, in no particular order, is our year-end list of highlights. These represent some of the changes and challenges faced by unit owners, boards and managers. Who would you nominate for a lump of coal … or a cup of cheer?
Looking back on 2021
- Working remotely – though it took some getting used to, the work-from-home option has turned out to be a blessing for many people who have been able to dramatically rethink the way we work. Physical distancing measures were maintained, ability to attend meetings from home, and more time with immediate family are just some of the benefits.
- Virtual meetings and eVoting – a definitive bright spot that allowed condo corporations to conduct the everyday business of having owners meetings in a safe, physically distanced environment. Upside: fewer if any issues with meeting quorum, and secure e-Voting options increased unit owner participation.
- Closing amenities – due to COVID-19 restrictions, many indoor amenities (gyms, pools, lounges, etc.) remained closed throughout much of 2021. However, as the province moved through Steps 1, 2 and 3 of its Roadmap to Reopen, many corporations have begun reopening some of the indoor recreational amenities were included in the reopening plan. See Steps 1, 2 and 3 below.
- Mask policies and enforcement – A full year of mandatory masks in the interior common areas of condos, though of course, not without its challenges in enforcement. Some condominium residents or guests have tried to ignore the requirement and refuse to wear masks in indoor common areas. We’ve seen some court cases this year which reaffirms the importance of mask wearing in condos and that a failure to do so (without an applicable exemption) constitutes a dangerous condition on the property in breach of section 117 of the Condominium Act.
- Vaccination policies – condominium corporations continue to have authority to adopt vaccination policies for use of the amenities by its residents, despite the current provincially mandated QR code proof of vaccination for businesses likely not applying to a condo corporation. Impact: corporations could require proof of vaccination for use of amenities to assist in ensuring the property is reasonably safe for all residents and service providers. Vaccination policies are required for corporations with employees.
- CAT expanding jurisdiction – in September 2021, it was announced that the CAT’s jurisdiction would be expanded. Effective January 1, 2022, the CAT’s jurisdiction will include disputes about unreasonable nuisances, annoyances or disruptions (noise, odours, smoke, light etc.); and the provisions in the corporation’s governing documents that govern these activities including the indemnification or compensation related to these disputes. Verdict: We said we didn’t have a crystal ball…
- Ministry extends the ability to hold virtual meetings and electronic voting and for obtaining owner consents to receive electronic notices for meetings – The Ministry announced the extension to the temporary suspension period to December 31, 2021. The deadline has since been extended to September 30, 2022. Condo corporations, therefore, can continue to hold meetings virtually and allow electronic voting without having a by-law(s) in place that authorizes it.
- Federal election and condos – this fall’s federal election raised more than a few questions for condos. Due to pandemic protocols, canvassers entering a condominium common area were required to follow COVID-19 precautions and wear a mask.
- Steps 1, 2, 3 of Ontario’s Reopening Roadmap – Ontario moved to Step 3 of its reopening plan in late October. For condos this meant that some pandemic safety restrictions could be relaxed. Here’s an informative link for further explanation: https://www.condoauthorityontario.ca/covid-19-update-for-the-condominium-sector/
Wishing everyone the best of the season, happy holidays and Happy New Year. Continue to stay safe.