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From the Summer 2020 Issue

Newsworthy

COVID-19 and Condominiums, the CMRAO Competency Profile, Reporting Energy and Water Use, and the ACMO Strategic Plan

News and Previews || Tracey Doherty

The COVID-19 Crisis in Condominiums

There is no argument that the most compelling news of 2020 has been the Coronavirus COVID-19 outbreak. Although, hopefully the worst is behind us, and it may be considered “old news,” we would be remiss if we did not mention it in this Newsworthy feature.

The crisis hit Ontario with full force in March when residents of the province were asked to avoid crowds, wash their hands, cough into their sleeves, and stay at home to prevent the spread of the virus. Condominium boards and management began emergency measures to protect their communities by closing amenities and common elements, posting health and safety guidelines, increasing the cleaning and disinfecting of frequently touched surfaces, and postponing meetings when possible.

Condominium associations, condo lawyers and management firms proactively began sifting through a myriad of sources to provide verified information and advice to condominium managers, service providers, and boards. Many news feeds, blogs, and webinars freely shared this information as a sense of shared fear and confusion began to take hold.

In order to mitigate the spread of false and incorrect information, ACMO dedicated their website news feed to serve as a clearinghouse for vetted articles and resources from credible sources, and shared posts on social media about the prevention of the pandemic as it related to condominiums. Also, ACMO hosted COVID-19 focused webinars featuring industry experts answering questions and concerns from condominium managers.

On behalf of its members, ACMO lobbied the Ministry of Ontario to ease regulatory deadlines in the Condo Act, urged the Canadian Government to extend subsidies to associations and the condo industry, and consulted with the CMRAO to extend licensing deadlines.

By the end of the month, with a full pandemic declared, the Government implemented the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act, forcing the closure of parks & recreational facilities, non-essential businesses, and banning group gatherings of more than five people. These unprecedented measures were now enforcible by law.

Condominium managers were declared an essential service according to Ontario’s List of Essential Businesses and continued to manage the daily operations of their condominium communities. Managers, although they may have been working remotely, took on the significant responsibility of keeping their condominium community safe by ensuring the Ministry of Health’s directives had been implemented in their buildings. Security, concierge services, and custodians also stepped up their duties in protecting their residents.  We thank all of the managers and service providers for their efforts.

Owners and boards also did their part. Although residents were staying home, isolating in their own suites, a new sense of community caring began to emerge. We were all in this together. Many residents were making sure to take care of their elderly or ill neighbours by buying groceries or running errands on their behalf.

When the condominium industry realized that this could go on for an indefinite amount of time, many questions regarding condo corp by-laws and the Condo Act began to arise. How long could an AGM meeting be postponed and could it be held virtually? What about mandatory in-suite fire inspections? Was landscaping considered an essential service? Do you still register a lien to collect common expense fees, when an owner lost their job due to COVID-19? What are the legal and ethical implications in this situation? The longer the pandemic went on, the more questions arose.

There is no doubt that this pandemic will be a catalyst for changes to operating procedures, bylaws and regulations within the condominium industry.

 

CMRAO Releases the Competency Profile for Condo Managers in Ontario

In 2019, the CMRAO began its preparation for the transfer of duties for setting education requirements from the Minister of Government and Consumer Services to the Registrar of the CMRAO, effective November 1, 2021.

The CMRAO released their Competency Profile that defines the condominium management profession in Ontario in February 2020. You can download a copy of the document from their website at www.cmrao.ca.

The comprehensiveness of the new competency profile is attributed to the knowledge and efforts of the CMRAO Advisory Committee, and the group of subject matter experts established, which consisted of highly experienced condominium managers from across the province, as well as individuals who came from a teaching/training background.


Reporting Energy and Water Use in Condominiums

Energy and water usage represents some of the highest operating costs in your condo. Ontario’s Energy and Water Reporting and Benchmarking (EWRB) initiative can help to save money by tracking usage, identify energy and water efficiency opportunities, and compare your energy and water usage to similar buildings.

Under the Reporting of Energy Consumption and Water Use regulation, condominium corporations of large buildings need to report their building’s energy and water use once a year to the Ministry of Energy, Northern Development and Mines (ENDM) by:

  • July 1, 2019, for buildings 100,000 square feet and larger
  • July 1, 2020, for buildings 50,000 square feet and larger

The property codes defined by Ontario’s Municipal Property Assessment Corporation (MPAC) are used to determine which building types need to report.

  • Multi-residential – with 7 or more self-contained units, code 340
  • Multi-residential – with 7 or more self-contained residential units, with small commercial unit(s), code 341
  • Residential condominium, code 370
  • Residential leasehold condominium corporation, code 378

If there are multiple buildings on a property, they can be reported individually or cumulatively. The gross floor area of a single building, or structure, is the total number of square feet that is measured between the exterior surfaces of its enclosed fixed walls. This area also includes:

  • Places inside the building or structure’s supporting areas, such as any common areas.
  • Atriums, elevator shafts, mechanical equipment areas and storage rooms.
  • The gross floor area does not include any exterior, unroofed or open-air spaces, such as an outdoor parking area.

Calculating the gross floor area of your building is essential to determine if you need to report and to produce accurate energy and water usage metrics. There are several ways to calculate your building’s gross floor area:

  • For smaller structures, you may be able to measure the exterior sides of the building to determine the area of one storey, and then multiply this value by the number of storeys.
  • You can consult blueprints or architectural plans with accurate measurements.
  • You can hire a third party to determine the building size.

A one-year exemption is permitted if the property is newly constructed, and a certificate for the occupancy of the property is issued in that year.

For more information, check the Government of Ontario website at www.ontario.ca/document/guide-energy-and-water-reporting

 

ACMO Strategic Plan Published

A few months ago ACMO announced its new Strategic Plan for 2020-2022.  The plan represents the culmination of a comprehensive strategic planning process that started in the fall of 2019 and engaged staff, board directors and various members and stakeholders.  Building on its successful 44-year foundation, this plan signals the beginning of an exciting new path for ACMO as we evolve to ensure our ongoing relevance as the premier community for condominium management professionals in Ontario.

Over the next three years, ACMO will implement initiatives that:
• expand its professional community and improve its member experience;
• increase awareness of ACMO and its programs;
• lead the way in condominium management education and expertise;
• build a sustainable organization that will serve its member’s needs for years to come.

Download a copy of the ACMO Strategic Plan at www.acmo.org/about-us/strategic-plan.


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