By Bill Thompson BA, RCM, ACCI, FCCI
This article is written to try and disclose the truth about the shameful violence and the terrible injuries and deaths carried out by a condo owner against his Board of Directors and their families on Sunday December 18, 2022, in Vaughan Ontario. It is also a call to action to try to prevent this from ever happening again.
I have both personal and professional experience that bear on this matter. I lived in the same condo where Mr. Villi resided for five years and my parking space was next to his. I tried to help him and went to his unit to hear the sound that was causing him such grief. I could not hear anything. That doesn’t mean that the sound wasn’t there as I admittedly have hearing loss in certain frequencies. I suggested that he hire an acoustical engineer to investigate the alleged sound. He refused. I talked to a lawyer in the industry and arranged a 20 minute free consultation for him to explain the issue. I presumed that would help him to understand how to define the problem and perhaps design a way to fix whatever it was that was driving him. That failed and then Frank blamed me for the legal bill that resulted when he refused to stop calling the legal office and attending at their office until someone would once again entertain his story. After that, I was threatened and harassed by him on multiple occasions, including one occasion where he told me that he knows my family is home all day while I am at work. His threats were always disguised in seemingly harmless statements, like his statement that he has an “FAC” which is a certificate that allows him to buy guns in Ontario. I was one of those residents that filed a formal complaint with the Board in November 2018, when Mr. Villi started posting threatening notes on my car, and took pictures of my family to post on Facebook together with defaming and harassing notations. My car was vandalized three times in two weeks in the underground garage. The cameras did not cover my car at that time. Once the camera was repositioned, the vandalism stopped. I provided the information and backup proof to the Board with a request for enforcement of the Condominiums governing documents (the condo law) in November of 2018. No resident in a condo should ever be subjected to the harassment and threats that Mr. Villi regularly uttered to many of us.
Professionally, I have managed Condominiums in the GTAA for nearly 40 years. I ran my own condominium management company for more than 30 of those years. I have been on industry Boards including the Canadian Condominium Institute National Executive Board, the CCI Toronto Board, the Association of Condominium Managers of Ontario Board, the Condominium Management Standard Committee, as well as many other committees, including those advising Government. I have been a member of three Condominium Boards, and currently sit on the Board of the condo where I reside. I am a Court Appointed Administrator, appointed by the Superior Court of Ontario to manage two of Toronto’s troubled condominiums. I have lived all aspects of condominium living. I still believe in the concept. I have no experience with mental health issues or gun control matters, so I will not comment on those aspects of this tragedy. The opinions that I am expressing are mine and mine alone and do not reflect any of the groups that I have had association with over the years.
I knew the five people Mr. Villi murdered. There is no way that I can do any of the victims justice, as there is so much more to their lives than I could possibly know of or disclose.
Rita Camilleri and Vittorio Panza were my neighbours. Rita got on our Board to try and get the city to turn over the care, control and ownership of the community pond and fountain that had not been turned over by the developer for more than ten years after the community was registered. Rita accomplished that with no additional cost to the condominium in less than two years through her relentless dogmatic efforts with the City of Vaughan. She stayed on the Board to continue to do good for her community. Rita’s partner, Vittorio, was a gentleman in every sense of the word. He always dressed for respect and held the elevator and greeted you with a smile, even though his English was very strained. He treated Rita with respect and love that was obvious to my wife and I the first time we met them. He was an old-school gentleman.
Naveed Dada was a real estate agent by trade, and was a friendly, talkative man who I would often find working out in the gym downstairs. He always had a smile and laugh for me, and he lived in the unit directly beside my family and I. We had many discussions about the condo world, and the real estate market, and the state of the world in general. He had no problem discussing virtually anything as he was a well- informed and well-rounded individual. He lived alone in his condo unit. He had served on the Board at any time that there was a vacancy since the initial registration of the condominium. He was always available to help.
Russell Manock was our long-term treasurer who by trade was also involved in the accounting field. He was well informed, well intentioned, meticulous in his duties and a very friendly, open man. He approached the condo financing like a business and always had his eye on the future to ensure that the condo was well positioned to meet its financial future. His wife Helen, known as Lorraine, was a very nice woman who was always at his side, or maybe it was the other way around. They were always together and always had time to stop and chat about anything. The last conversation that I had with them was the day that I was moving
out of the condominium in July of 2021. They asked me candidly what they could do about Mr. Villi. They were worried that his unpredictably violent nature might escalate, and that he was going after the Board members individually. I told them honestly that they don’t need that kind of worry in their lives, and if they were truly worried, that Russ should leave the Board. Russ left the Board in May 2022. That didn’t stop Mr. Villi’s actions.
John and Doreen Di Nino lived one floor above us. John is a natural leader and as the President of the Amalgamated Transit Union, no further proof of his leadership proficiency should be necessary. Why he chose to take on the extra stress of being the President of our condo board is not known by me, but he did a great job of keeping order and moving forward with the necessary condo business despite the obvious distress caused by Mr. Villi. John worked a lot of hours, but always had time for the Condominium. His wife Doreen is an obviously well-educated, professional woman who is soft spoken and has genuine interest in other people.
These people gave of their time to run a condominium on behalf of all of the Owners. There is no conspiracy here. They are and were good people giving freely to their community. They were a Board, carrying out their mandated duties under the Condominium Act. One of those duties was to protect the other Owners from harassment and threats being uttered and carried out by Mr. Villi. They didn’t have a choice. They were mandated to step in by the Condominium Act of Ontario which ensures that every Owner has the right to enforcement of the Act, the Declaration and the Bylaws. Once brought to their attention, they had a duty to investigate the claims. Once the claims were verified, they had a duty to take steps to change the behaviour. It wasn’t a choice, it was a duty. Let’s drop all of the dialogue which in any way blames these victims. They did what they were elected to do, or were simply the spouse of someone on the Board.
Let me ask if it makes sense to anyone that the Condominium Act requires the Directors address for service (their units) to be disclosed to every other Owner when they get elected, as well as every 6 months through mandated disclosure forms to the Owners, and also to every new Owner as they move in? These elected officials are also strapped with the duty to enforce the rules. In what other arena do we disclose personal information about the people given the duty to enforce the laws? Would we think it fair that every police officer’s name and home address should be shared with the whole community? Of course not. That is lunacy, yet they require it for Condo Board Members! That has to change immediately. A volunteer should not be forced to give up their personal privacy and safety before they can give their time for free.
Why is it that the Condo has been enforcing these harassments and threats from Mr. Villi for more than four years? Why didn’t the courts protect the community by intervening in these obvious cases of aberrant behaviour? Why do they protect the rights of these individuals above the rights of the other individuals who choose a condo as their home, or volunteer to be a member of the Board? In those four years of escalating action against Mr. Villi, all of those individuals lived under the same condo roof. They met in the underground, and the elevators and at the community functions, which undoubtably added to the conflict level. Would a court find it fair to order divorcing and warring spouses to live under the same roof? Obviously not, so why is a condo different? The Board Members were simply fulfilling their mandated duties under the Act, yet the courts did not find a way to protect them. The courts typically protect the individual, and ignore the protection of the Board. The best the court felt it could do was to issue an order that Mr. Villi stop harassing and threatening the Board, the Staff, the Contractors and the other Owners. Mr. Villi did not stop. Further orders of contempt due to breaches of the restrictions were sought and granted, but not without a lot of further stress, relationship strain, and general bad blood. The Courts were about to hear an argument from the Condominium to request the sale of Mr. Villi’s unit and his removal from residing at the condominium in question. That motion was to be heard on Monday December 19th. It was never heard.
The Condominium Act is a piece of provincial legislation, enforced by the Superior Court of Ontario. I believe we need to come together as a province and require changes to the protection of Condominium Directors. At the very, very, least, we should insist that the unit locations of Directors be considered part of their privacy protection, and all members of the Board should be reached through the contact address of the Condominium. We should ask Doug Ford to step up and champion this cause, as the people’s Premier. If change is not imminent, I would imagine that there will be many vacancies on Boards going forward, and some condominiums may not be able to get anybody to volunteer to act as members of their Board. If that happens, the Condominium concept of self-government will fail. I suggest that we give the Ontario legislators 90 days to figure out how to accomplish those changes to the legislation to protect our Board members. If they do not listen, then I, as one of the approximately 50,000 Board members in Ontario Condos, will simply resign my position. I suggest that if all Board members do the same, we will certainly be heard.
I put out a challenge for the Canadian Condominium Institute, the Association of Condominium Managers of Ontario, the Ontario Government, the Condominium Authority of Ontario, and any other interested parties to arrange to meet and discuss this matter in detail until a real resolution can be made and achieved to stop this kind of tragedy from ever happening again.
Let’s keep this initiative going and not let the meaningless, preventable deaths and injuries of all of these good people be for naught. We owe them that at least.
Bill Thompson BA, RCM, ACCI, FCCI, has managed Condominiums in the GTAA for nearly 40 years and recently retired in 2022.