Condo Act Review lobbyist calls for more owners to join the fight
Mississauga News Apr 30, 2013 By Erin Obourn
Mississauga realtor and condo owner’s rights advocate Linda Pinizzotto is in this Ottawa this week as the Ontario Condominium Act Review moves ever-slowly forward, with more and more owners pushing to modernize the current act’s severe shortfalls.
Pinizzotto, founder and president of the non-profit Condo Owners Association (COA), is making waves in the Condo Act Review process, vowing better protection for residents.
In an effort to spread public awareness of the Condo Act Review and recruit more owners, COA will launch a Mississauga-specific website in three weeks, in addition to the Ontario-wide site that currently exists.
“I have never taken on something like this in my entire life,” she told YourMississaugaBiz.com Monday. “But the more condo owners we have registered with COA, the more pull we have to fight for positive changes.”
First and foremost she said, property management companies must be held accountable to act in the best interest of owners. Pinizzotto says the management companies need to be licensed in addition to the property managers, to ensure they meet higher standards.
“Property managers are only employees, the accountability has to be with the management company,” she said. “Forged proxy. I can’t tell you how many times a question about that comes in.”
In some cases, she said, boards will act with the assistance of their managers to issue false proxies to ensure that votes go in the direction that they want.
“The corruption that’s going on with some of these boards of directors is terrible because there is no enforced accountability.”
Pinizzotto believes with a larger support network COA will have an easier time in the fight for Condo Act reform.
“COA needs more condominium owners to broaden their minds. The Condo Act needs to reflect better operations for people to be able to make changes in their buildings. Owners are missing the big picture,” she said.
Last year, former Premier Dalton McGuinty announced a process to update the 1998 legislation and provide long-overdue changes to the rules that govern condo ownership and management.
And last fall a series of public discussions took place including a meeting in Mississauga attended by more than 200 people, to gauge feedback on what kind of amendments are necessary.
The review of the Ontario Condominium Act is in stage two of three, wherein condo “experts” are reviewing public comments and developing a report of options and recommendations to be presented to government by the end of summer 2013.
The Condo Act Review is headed towards reformed legislation, but whether or not those revisions will go far enough to meet the demands of COA and other condo owners remains to be seen.
The Public Policy Forum, which was hired to conduct a public process to recommend improvements to the act, released an interim report in February suggesting changes in five areas:
Dispute resolution – More effective means to enforce existing rules in the act and creation of an independent agency to oversee development of dispute resolution tools and processes
Financial management – Rules to ensure adequate funding and reporting of each building’s reserves
Consumer protection – Supply of adequate, accessible and transparent information about costs to enable consumers to make informed decisions
Condominium management qualifications – Mandatory knowledge for and possible regulation of property management companies and the managers they hire to oversee individual buildings
Issues beyond the Condo Act itself – Participants in discussions on new legislation raised a number of associated issues, including property taxes, condo conversions, insurance rates, tenants rights and responsibilities and trends and “power imbalances” in the condo sector that were beyond the act itselfShare