The Association of Condominium Managers of Ontario (ACMO) was founded in 1977 by a group of property managers frustrated with the lack of regulation and consistency in a rapidly growing industry. Following the incorporation of the first condominium in Ontario in 1967, the number of condos grew exponentially and by 1976 more than a thousand condo corporations were registered, and the industry was rife with a myriad of problems and disputes.
In response, the Minister of Consumer and Commercial Relations commissioned a study group, chaired by Darwin Kealy, to examine all aspects of condominium ownership and recommend ways of addressing the problems and to suggest changes to the legislation governing condominiums. The resulting “Ontario Residential Condominium Study Group Report” proposed 126 recommendations and concluded that the property management industry should become self-regulated.
With that, a number of condominium managers including Ron Outram, Joe Sadowsky, Ed Hughes, Patricia Savoy, Richard Pearlstein, and Myrna Plaggenborg, fondly remembered as the “Donut Shop Committee,” held a series of meetings that ultimately lead to the formation of an unincorporated association in 1977. The initial mandate was to improve the qualifications and performance of condominium managers and management firms through the development of professional standards and a code of ethics, along with standardized education for condominium managers.
The early years of ACMO were spent promoting membership in the Association through newsletters, luncheons, and informal events, with the objective of encouraging dialogue amongst managers about the problems and solutions within the industry.
In 1978, ACMO appointed its first Education Committee, chaired by Derrell Dular, to establish areas of study considered necessary for the professional certification of condominium property managers. They began formulating the educational course structure, format, content, and examination details with the goal of providing members with a meaningful certification recognized by the condominium industry at large.
The first ACMO Newsletter was mailed to members in 1978 and continues today as the digital ACMO Envelope, emailed to over 2,600 subscribers.
The first Condominium Management Show was held by Seneca College in 1979, promoting property management as a viable career choice, and ACMO participated with a tradeshow booth promoting membership in the Association. The following year, ACMO opened membership to ‘Associate’ members, for suppliers and vendors serving the condominium industry.
The association was formally incorporated in Ontario as a not-for-profit corporation on April 24, 1981. This incorporation allowed for ACMO to offer the Registered Condominium Manager (RCM) designation to those seeking a higher standard of professional excellence. In 1983, Seneca College administered the first RCM exam, and by March of 1984, eighteen condominium managers received the first RCM designations. Today, almost 900 condominium managers in Ontario hold active RCM designations.
ACMO’s flagship quarterly magazine, CM (Condominium Manager) Magazine was first published in 1980, along with the first edition of the Professional Services and Trades Directory. These publications proved to be a valuable resource for the industry and continue to be produced to this day.
ACMO was originally managed by volunteers out of necessity, but with growth they realized they needed help and decided to outsource the staffing and management of ACMO to BB&C Management Services in 1988. This arrangement served the association well and BB&C was instrumental in helping the association grow and succeed in subsequent years.
ACMO continued to focus on providing education to condominium managers, and in 1989, the first students enrolled in the Condominium Administration program graduated from Humber College.
For the next decade, ACMO continued to grow in membership and lobby the government on behalf of managers and those in the condominium industry. In 1996, The ACMO Legislative Committee completed eight months of consultations and meetings with the Government of Ontario contributing to the Condominium Act, enacted in 1998.
Together with the Canadian Condominium Institute’s Toronto Chapter (CCI-T), ACMO held the first annual Condo Conference in 1997, offering managers, management firms, condo board directors, service firms and suppliers the chance to network and learn through education seminars and a tradeshow. The Condo Conference has since become the must attend annual industry event with more than 1,500 attendees.
That same year, ACMO introduced the ACMO 2000 Certification Program for condominium management firms. ACMO 2000 Companies voluntarily adhere to a series of vigorous core management principles and standards that improve the efficiency and effectiveness of their operations and allow them to deliver a higher level of service to their clients. ACMO 2000 Certified companies also undergo ongoing audits to ensure compliance to the certification standards. The first ten Corporate members proudly earn their ACMO 2000 Certification in the year 2000.
The turn of the millennium brought a new digital age to ACMO with the launch of the website, www.ACMO.org, offering information and resources to a greater audience. The website was updated in 2009 and then againin 2019 with additional resources, features and improved navigation.
ACMO’s four condominium management courses, Physical Building Management, Condominium Law, Condominium Financial Management, and Administration & Human Relations, required for the RCM designation are offered online through Mohawk College.
Also in 2001, a Regional Committee was established to help reach managers outside the GTA, to establish connections and share opportunities to a broader membership base.
The Association introduced the Annual Condominium Management Awards in 2004 recognizing excellence in those professionals who excel and achieve a higher standard in the industry. Awards were given to Maria Finoro, RCM of the Year for extraordinary commitment and dedication to professional condominium property management, to Larlyn Property Management Ltd., Corporate Member of the Year for contributions to ACMO through superior performance in dealing with its employees, clients and suppliers (discontinued in 2012), and to J. Robert Gardiner of Gardiner Miller Arnold, Associate Member of the Year for exceptional contribution to ACMO or the Condominium Industry in Ontario.
The awards have transformed over the years and now include the Donna Farr Award presented to an ACMO instructor who has demonstrated outstanding dedication to the delivery of the RCM program, the Leader of the Year presented to a Registered Condominium Manager who has demonstrated team leadership in business practices, and/or in the development of professional property managers, the Genesis Award presented to a condominium manager who is new in the profession and has displayed exceptional service, and theSpecial Recognition Award presented to recognize an individual for special achievements and/or services that have positively impacted the condominium industry in Ontario.
In 2005, ACMO rebranded and introduced its new logo.
ACMO realized it could share information and reach a wider audience with a social media presence. So in 2011, ACMO could be followed on popular sites like Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.
ACMO was actively advancing its long-held belief that changes were needed to the Condominium Act, 1998. In 2012, ACMO partnered with CCI-Toronto, and the two associations launched an offensive that included town halls, legislative briefs and meetings with the Ministry of Government and Consumer Services. The Ontario government was listening and recognized that condominium communities (owners, managers, management companies, other professionals) had an important voice. In 2015, Minister David Orazietti announced increased protections for condo owners in the form of proposed new legislation, Bill 106, Protecting Condominium Owners Act, 2015.
In 2017, two administrative authorities were created by the Ministry of Government and Consumer Services: The Condominium Authority of Ontario (CAO) and The Condominium Management Regulatory Authority of Ontario (CMRAO). The CMRAO’s responsibilities include licensing, handling complaints, inspection, and investigation and enforcement of condo managers and management companies. The CMRAO entered into a contract with ACMO for a five-year period recognizing ACMO’s comprehensive courses as the mandatory educational standard for achieving a General License. In the fall of 2021, the CMRAO will assume responsibility for licensing education and ACMO will no longer serve as the exclusive provider of condominium management licensing education. As a result, ACMO prepared a new strategic plan that will see the association shifting its focus to providing continuing education and specialty certification for condominium managers.
Also in 2017, George Brown College began offering ACMO condominium management courses.
More recently, ACMO’s board of directors concluded that the association had matured and grown in complexity to the point that it would benefit from transitioning from a volunteer-led operation to one led by professional staff, with volunteers focused on guiding strategic direction and policy. The board initiated this process in 2019 by hiring a fulltime, dedicated Executive Director who undertook an organizational assessment and led the board and staff through a strategic planning process. One of the resulting strategic goals was to become self-managed as a means of improving organizational efficiency and effectiveness. This was realized on April 1, 2021.
Today, in our fourth decade of operation, ACMO continues to be Ontario’s only professional association dedicated to providing connection, support, and education to condominium management professionals dedicated to pursuing a higher standard. We look forward to a bright future of elevating condominium management.