Creating a New Condominium Act for Ontario
In 2012, over 1.25 million Ontarians lived in condominiums – a number that had skyrocketed in recent years. And yet, at the time, the laws regulating condos in this province had not been updated in over a decade. To better respond to the changing needs surrounding condos, as part of a broader review process, the Ministry of Consumer and Government Services commissioned MASS LBP to run a Residents’ Panel to Review the Condominium Act. This was the first time a MASS residents’ panel was used to inform the development of a law.
The public engagement portion of the review process took place in three stages. In Stage One, the Residents’ Panel developed a set of guiding principles to inform the development of the new act. In Stage Two, the Public Policy Forum, a partner organisation on this project, convened a panel of experts to develop a set of concrete recommendations for reforming the Act. And in Stage Three, the Residents’ Panel reconvened to review the expert recommendations and to ensure that they were in line with their guiding principles.
Stage One: Guiding Principles
In the Fall of 2012, MASS mailed 10,000 Civic Lottery invitation packages to randomly-selected condominium households across the province. We used our Civic Lottery process to randomly select 36 panellists from the 300 Ontarians who volunteered, balancing for age, gender, geography, type of residence, and whether they rented or owned a condo.
Over three days in Toronto, the panellists learned about the diverse concerns of residents and other stakeholders. They developed an understanding of the collective challenges that the Condominium Act sought to address, and they offered guidance and proposed priorities for amending the Act.
MASS brought together a wide range of leaders from academia, government, law, real estate, property development and management, and representatives of condominium owner associations. Through these experts, the panel learned about the trends, current issues, and other considerations that could inform their recommendations. Then, with MASS’s guidance, the panel deliberated and developed a set of guiding values and directives to inform the development of the new Act. MASS compiled these recommendations, including minority reports from some panellists, into a Stage One report entitled The Ontario Residents’ Panel to Review the Condominium Act.
Stage Two: Expert Recommendations
In Stage Two of the public engagement process, the Public Policy Forum convened over 35 experts and stakeholder representatives to develop concrete policy proposals to reform the Act, guided by the Residents’ Panel’s first report. Participants in this stage included mediators, developers, lawyers, condo managers, insurance representatives, chartered accountants, a housing analyst, a realtor, an engineer, consumer advocates and owner representatives. These stakeholders shared their expertise, and, overcoming significant differences, agreed to over 100 distinct recommendations for amending the Act.
Stage Three: Final Report
Finally, the Residents’ Panel was reconvened for two more days to review and grade the key expert recommendations from Stage Two. The panel then generated further suggestions to better align the recommendations with the views of the broader public. MASS captured the panellists’ recommendations and produced a final report to inform the Ministry’s efforts of amending the Condominium Act.