Three large Ontario condo associations are sounding the alarm over safety risks to condo board members and managers.

In an open letter to Premier Doug Ford, Attorney General Doug Downey, and Minister of Public and Business Service Todd McCarthy, representatives from the Association of Condominium Managers of Ontario (ACMO), the Toronto & Area Chapter of the Canadian Condominium Institute (CCI-T), and the Community Associations Institute, Canadian Chapter (CAI-C) expressed their concerns and called for several legislative changes that would increase privacy protections for board members.

"Condominium board directors, managers and owners are expressing very real and serious concerns about their safety and privacy rights," the letter reads. "Some board directors are resigning, not running for re-election, or failing to enforce condominium rules because they fear for their personal safety."

The letter comes exactly one year after the tragic mass shooting at an upscale condo tower in Vaughan that killed three condo board members and two of their spouses inside their units. The gunman was a resident of the building who had previously tried to sue six directors and officers of the condo board, but the suit was dismissed as "frivolous." At the time of the shooting, the board was in the process of having him evicted for being a nuisance.

The condo association leaders expressed fears of worsening tensions between board members and residents as financial insecurity continues to grow amongst Canadians. Resulting anger, they say, is being directed towards condo boards "who are obligated to fund the corporation, even if some owners can't afford it."

"It is believed that the condominium industry, and perhaps society, has turned a very unfortunate and even scary corner, and that this increase in harassment, online-bullying, unchecked character attacks, violence and violent behaviour sadly is here to stay (and may continue to increase)," the associations state.

In the letter, the leaders say they have struck a number of working committees to identify ways to improve safety and security. An attached report laid out a number of recommendations, which call for legislative changes from the government to amend the Condominium Act, as well the Ontario Health and Safety Act and the Criminal Code.

Under the current Condominium Act, any unit owner can request a copy of the condo corporation's owners list, which includes their address of service — typically their home address.

"This has resulted in directors being subjected to owners and other individuals’ solicitation/complaints and sometimes harassment and abuse that has, and can, put those directors and staff at risk," the recommendations report reads.

The condo associations call for this right to obtain a list of this kind to be removed, or, alternatively, owners should be given the right to remove their information from the record. As well, an independent third party should be appointed as a "gate keeper" for the owners list, and would be in charge of distributing any mail or notices to individual owners.

The associations are also asking that owner email addresses not be given out to other owners, "as email addresses particularly are quite often the target for identity fraud and other online crimes such as harassment and bullying."

One possible solution that was put forward was for the third party to oversee a general email for the building where owners can send their communications, with the third party then forwarding them to the appropriate person.

Although the association leaders recognize this is a complicated situation that requires further study, they stress the urgent importance of improving safety for all condo owners as tensions surrounding affordability continue to rise.

"These societal changes are greatly impacting the condominium industry, and unfortunately these new norms appear to be here for the foreseeable future and may even get worse, with more violence. Thus, it is important to be proactive and find solutions to this growing and extremely serious problem."

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