As we approach year end and embark on our collective mad-dash towards the holidays, we thought we’d revisit a Christmas classic and adapt it to the condo world. Here’s our last post of the year; our Condo Christmas Story.
Some names and identifying details have been changed to protect the privacy of individuals involved.
You’re a mean one, Mr. de Grinch
Mr. Albert de Grinch was a bitter, grouchy, boardroom-dwelling creature who hated Christmas. He lived in the penthouse, at the top of Mount Frosty corporation, just north of the town of Toronville. His only companion was his loyal but unloved dog Minimus (also known as “CocoPop” but that’s a different story). Thankfully, Minimus, as its name indicates, was within the condo’s strict pet weight restrictions.
Mr. de Grinch had been elected to the board of directors in ancient times, well before mandatory training and disclosure. In fact, even the Condo Authority of Ontario had no trace of his election. And so, Mr. de Grinch spent his days policing and enforcing the corporation’s regulations.
Santa breaching the rules
When Mr. de Grinch heard that Santa Claus was expected to deliver presents to all of those on the “Nice List”, he immediately ran to the corporation’s governing documents to find a way to prevent this from happening. You see, Mr. de Grinch was afraid his name would appear on the “Naughty List”, as his heart was two sizes too small.
Once satisfied that Santa’s visit was in breach of numerous relevant rules, he conspicuously posted a sign in the lobby cancelling Christmas. The sign read:
Please take a moment from your holiday cheer,
to be advised that the Board has cancelled Christmas this year.
While this may make you sad, and lead to some wallowing,
the Board notes that Santa is in breach of the following:
- Reindeers are not approved cats, fish or hounds,
- and in any event, they exceed 20 pounds.
- Visitor parking spaces shall only be used in the day,
- and they certainly cannot fit Santa’s sleigh.
- Despite all the jolly and scenes of nativity,
- Santa’s deliveries amount to a commercial activity.
- Units are to be used for single families to reside,
- such undertaking is therefore, clearly offside.
- This Corporation has a no-smoking rule. Its enforcement is a need.
- Santa’s pipe is a nuisance, and may even contain weed.
- The units are closed, locked up, and shut tight.
- The Corporation cannot grant access on Christmas Eve night.
Mr. de Grinch concluded his notice by indicating that the corporation would secure compliance against any owner found aiding or abetting the fat man in his disruptive gift delivery endeavor. He warned them that any required legal notices would be charged and collected against those in breach of the above.
Mr. de Grinch repeated to all who would listen that he was not doing this out of malice. He, as all good directors, was acting honestly and in good faith, and was exercising the care, diligence and skill that other reasonably prudent directors would exhibit in comparable circumstances. His hands were tied, he said. Allowing the aging overweight man to drag his gift bag through common elements would cause premature damage and attract occupiers’ liability. The Board, he claimed, was duty bound to take all reasonable steps to ensure that all complied with the Act, the declaration, the by-laws and the rules. This applied to Santa as well.
Owners scrambled to put together a Requisition demanding a meeting of owners to vote on this. They easily gathered far more than the required 15% signatures and delivered the petition to the board. But Mr. de Grinch was a step ahead of them. He counted the days required to issue proper notices. The requisition being received on December 19, the board would issue the preliminary notice on December 24 (“That’ll teach everyone a lesson!”, he thought). The general notice would go out on January 8 and the meeting would be held on January 23… well after the subversive delivery.
Mr. de Grinch was particularly proud of the fact that his dreadful scheme coincided with the corporation’s holiday party taking place in the lobby that very evening! So, he proudly adorned his Canadian Condominium Institute‘s Treasurer’s sash and marched towards the party room, determined to quash any celebrations and hoping to find unhappy and miserable neighbours.
The Christmas miracle
But as he approached the party room, rather than hearing sorrowful and bitter cries, he heard neighbours singing joyous hymns and wishing each other well. This puzzled Mr. de Grinch who suddenly understood:
Maybe Christmas doesn’t fit within the rules, declaration or Act.
Maybe Christmas, perhaps, means a little bit more than that.
And suddenly, Mr. de Grinch’s heart grew three sizes!
Immediately, Mr. de Ginch returned to the governing documents to find a way to save Christmas without breaching the revered and recently amended Condo Act.
He was relieved to find out that the Condo Authority Tribunal had no authority over holidays celebrations (for now). That was good news, he thought.
So all he was required to do was ensure that the corporation’s own rules were not breached. He then turned to Cindy Lou, the property manager, to help him read the rules with a kinder heart. With her help he saw that:
- Reindeers were service animals exempted from the rule prohibiting pets;
- Santa didn’t need the parking garage. He could park his sleigh on the roof, pursuant to the existing (but forgotten) section-21 by-law allowing the corporation to grant a licence over common elements;
- Santa’s gift delivery was neighbourly and benevolent. In no way did it offend the single-family provision. Certainly, his very short stay on the property did not amount to rooming, boarding, lodging, transient use or hotelling in any way;
- Santa’s pipe was grandfathered (or, as we now say, “grandparented”). Besides, Santa had not lit that pipe since the passing of the Ontario Smoke-Free Act.
The biggest challenge however was to find a way for the corporation to grant Santa access to units.
Cindy Lou, running out of tricks, suggested that section 19 of the Act permitted a person authorized by the corporation to enter a unit, on reasonable notice, at any reasonable time to perform the objects and duties of the corporation. Perhaps, at this time of the year, sharing joy and best wishes could fall within the corporation’s objects and duties?
Uncertain of the soundness of the argument, a quick call to the corporation’s lawyer confirmed that all that was required in the circumstances was to secure the owners’ consent. And so a policy was quickly adopted whereby owners would convey their consent to Santa’s visit by leaving cookies and a glass of milk (or other non-dairy product) by the Christmas tree. The policy was quickly implemented and accepted by all.
And so, dear readers, this is how owners and occupants of Mount Frosty were able to join and celebrate in harmony this special time of year.
Our thanks and best wishes
Here we are, concluding another wonderful year of blogging and learning, with our 56 posts and more than 250,000 page views. We can’t thank you enough for your readership and support!
It is now our turn to wish all of you the very best season’s greetings! In the middle of the hustle-and-bustle that this time of year often brings, may you find time to celebrate old traditions and make new ones, with friends and family.
Below is our holiday cheer, from the Gowling’s family to yours.
Turn the volume on and click on it to animate it.
Joyeux Noël !