As the fall season winds down and we battle our second major snowstorm, a long winter seems probable. Condominiums should ensure they are well prepared for the challenges an intense winter can present.
The cold and snow leads to ice, which is a serious safety risk for all residents and visitors. Consistent with the Condominium Act, 1998, the majority of condominium declarations provide that the corporation is responsible for the maintenance of the common elements. Furthermore, pursuant to the Occupiers Liability Act, the condominium corporation is deemed to be the occupier of the common elements and therefore responsible at law for all those present on the common elements.
Condominiums must properly maintain their common elements. In addition to snow plowing, proper maintenance should ensure that slippery ice surfaces are prevented and addressed through salting. The importance of proper salting must be stressed to the relevant contractors. Contracts should be clear as to which locations require salting and the time-frame for when contractors will be at site following snow falls.
Furthermore, contractors responsible for snow plowing need to be cognizant of where they are moving the snow and ensure that dangerous snow banks are not being created on the property. It is a good idea to budget for additional snow plowing, removal and salting if the winter forecast is calling for a lot of snow.
Exclusive use common elements must also be addressed. If the condominium declaration provides that a unit owner is responsible for the maintenance of this area, the condominium corporation should ensure that the unit owner does so.
Condominium corporations should ensure that all of their winter contractors are properly insured. Particulars of the insurance coverage should be provided to condominium corporations in advance.
Condominium corporations should further ensure that their agents and relevant service providers have policies in place and that those policies are strictly adhered to. Such policies may include relevant signage, notice to residents when a dangerous winter situation arises and are looked to should someone suffer an injury while on the common elements.
Just remember that prudent planning will hopefully make this winter safer for residents and visitors – where the focus will be on enjoying the holiday spirit.