Top 5 Sessions from the 2015, 19th Annual ACMO/CCI-T Condominium Conference

The 19th Annual ACMO/CCI-T Condominium Conference was one of the most successful conferences in its history. Held at at Toronto Congress Centre, it set new records with over 170 exhibitors and over 1,600 attendees. The level of creativity in terms of swag and fun also hit a new level (here’s a glimpse from our list of Top 10 Exhibitors from the Conference.

The theme this year was #leadingtheway, which represents ACMO and CCI-T’s aspirations to usher in a new era in condominium management and governance. We think this is a fitting theme, especially with Bill 106 having made large strides and expected to cause ripple effects in the industry in 2016.

In all, there were 19 very informative sessions covering a wide range of topics relating to condominiums. We picked out our 5 favourite sessions for you:

#1. Great Director Debate

Richard Elia (Elia Associates) moderated a highly controversial debate about whether there is a place for professional directors in the future of condominiums. Christine Dunn and Bill Thompson (Malvern) argued in favour of the need for professional directors while Ian Waldron and Carol Dirks (Fogler, Rubinoff) took the opposing view.

More specifically, the question was about whether it makes sense to bring in outside help to run a condo. Both sides had very strong arguments, but the “in favour” side seems to have won this debate by a slight margin. Here are some of the arguments convincingly articulated by both Dunn and Thompson:

At the top of the list for the “in favour” camp is the fact that professional directors would bring about a) more competency; and b) lower eventual expenses. The belief is that increased education to current directors would not be sufficient in accomplishing both a) and b).

Towards the end, however, both sides showed a hint of possibility of a middle ground between the two opposing views:

For now, this concept is somewhat theoretical. The real answer as to whether this is an appropriate solution to running a condo can only be seen when it is tested in reality. Further, the urgency (or non-urgency) will become more obvious after we have a chance to observe the effects of increased and mandatory education to board members.

(To see a list of the specific issues of the debate, here’s a summary of the presentation from ACMO.)

#2. To Be or Not to B&B

The AirBnB concept has single-handedly altered the hotel landscape and is now increasingly causing disruption in condos in Toronto. Is it even a problem? How prevalent are AirBnB users in Toronto? What is the impact on condos? How do you ensure compliance? Tania Haluk (FirstService Residential) hosted Roger Thompson (FirstService Residential) and Jason Rivait (Lash Condo Law) to answer these questions and more.

The session revealed that there are currently 6,000 active Airbnb listings in the GTA, many of them in condos. The consensus was that this poses many problems.

In order to deal with the growing trend of short-term rentals, developers seem inclined to draft declarations that are more accommodating.

However, to managers and residents of condos, this causes major headaches, many of which Mr. Rivait has previously discussed in other publications. There are wide-ranging issues from compliance, security, insurance, community engagement, tenancy and more.

While it doesn’t look like Ontario condo legislation will step in and regulate the phenomenon, other jurisdictions have taken different approaches. Most notably, New York City levies hefty fines under certain circumstances involving AirBnB.

The panel points out that the best way to ensure compliance is with proper communication between all stakeholders involved, from owners, tenants and managers. This is a topic that will certainly come up again – it won’t be surprising to see more concrete rules and regulations regarding short-term rentals in the future.

(For a summary of the presentation, here is a link of the presentation. Here is also a great article from Rod Escayola on what to do when AirBnN moves int your condo.)

 

#3. Condo Strength

The Conference had a highly-anticipated unveiling: an education platform for condo directors called CondoSTRENGTH. To usher in a new era of education and competency in condos, Marc Bhalla (Elia Associates) got together with Mo Killu (GPM Management), Josh Milgrom (Lash Condo Law) and Ernie Nyitrai to explain what this program consists of.

When finally unveiled, the program, which is made for directors, by directors, looked very promising. It remains to be seen whether it will live up to its hype, but the response so far has been very positive.

An aspect that had been discussed for a very long time, the program will consist of three branches: resources for directors, networking opportunities, and recognition for the hard work that goes mainly unnoticed by directors.

Further details will be provided in the Winter 2015 issue of CondoVoice magazine. In the meanwhile, you can find more information about the program on its website, www.condostrength.ca, which was also unveiled during the session.

(For a summary of the presentation, here is a link of the presentation.)

#4. Shared Facilities

Shared facilities are often times a major source of controversy in condos where the concept applies. There is a whole host of issues that can arise when more than one corporation has to share facilities with another. Catherine Murdock (DEL Property Management) moderated a panel that included Stephen Chesney (Parker Garber Chesney), Deborah Holmes and Warren Kleiner (Miller Thomson), to address “scared facilities.”

In a lengthy discussion about various issues, the overarching theme with regards to dealing with shared facilities was one of cooperation. Concerted efforts are of paramount importance to effectively co-exist when there is/are shared facilities and the panel echoed those beliefs.

To alleviate the heavy burden of living in harmony, Bill 106, thankfully provides for a much-needed standardized shared facilities agreement to set proper guidelines.

#5. Status Certificates – Managers and Condo Corp Liability – It’s a Nightmare

Status certificates have been at the centre of several recent court decisions. The timing of this session is on point. Denise Lash (Lash Condo Law), who has written many times on this subject, moderated a panel with David Thiel (Fogler Rubinoff) and Michael Kalisperas (Royale Grande Property Management).

There seems to be a lot of misconceptions about status certificates, their purpose and what they really are. The panel addressed all of those with a thorough overview and also discussed recent case law that sheds new light into the subject.

Two recent court cases have had profound impact on questions surrounding status certificates and the panel took the time to discuss those as well.

Also, Bill 106 looks to affect status certificates for the better. Most notably, there is a likelihood that the new legislation will change the form of status certificates.

(For a summary of the presentation, here is a link of the presentation.)

 

And there you have it, a roundup of the top sessions. Our hats go off to the ACMO / CCI teams who worked tirelessly to bring the conference to life, as well as exhibitors and attendees who’s endless smiles and enthusiasm kept us going all conference long.

What was your favourite session? What topics are you most looking forward to hearing about next year? Let us know in your comments below or share with us on Twitter @EvercondoApp