Canada's Condominium Magazine
Global shifts toward energy efficiency and emissions control have prompted many to opt for electric vehicles.
However, many Ontario residents have run into an unexpected obstacle with the Ontario Condo Act. Residents are questioning these regulations and requesting that changes be made to make it easier for them to request the charging stations they need for their electric vehicles.
Since the Ontario government, spearheaded by Kathleen Wynn, is pushing for at least five per cent of all car sales to be electric by 2020, current rules are a barrier to adoption. It would be impossible to have enough residents with electric cars to approve the expense — under current rules.
The best hope at the moment are “green” and visionary developers, such as Tridel, who recently stated on their website that at some of their “Built Green” condominium projects “electric car charging provisions or stations will be available.” [More>>]
For example, Tridel’s Two Old Mill has “12 electric vehicle charging stations available to building occupants.” [More info here>>] In the push for green and LEED certification, developers are helping out. However, retrofitting existing condos remains a barrier to Ontario’s green plans under the government’s own rules.
Current rules do not favour electrical charging in condos
As electric vehicles become increasingly popular and more tenants begin to purchase them, it will be easier to justify these changes.
However, if only one or two residents in a building require the station, then it can be difficult to convince the board to make changes that affect the entire community for the sake of the individual.
Installation of charging stations typically cost around $3,000. While some tenants who request these additions are prepared to pay the costs, others may not be. In either case, the condominium boards must consider other factors. For instance, condos typically view electricity and some other utilities as shared expenses. This means that many tenants may be forced to pay for a service they do not use. The following would need to be considered:
- The cost of electricity is a shared expense in many condos. If a building installed an electric charging station, electricity would need to be sub-metered to keep costs fair for tenants who do not use the service.
- Is the condo owner making the request paying for the installation, maintenance, repairs, and electricity usage? If multiple unit owners will be using the stations, are they willing or able to share the costs? If they are, it will be easier to justify. If not, then the condo board will need to outline any proposed solutions for paying those costs. Where will the money come from?
- In older buildings, rewiring parking garages may pose a safety risk.
- Changes to parking structure will need to be made, and residents will need to have their spaces reassigned so that electric vehicles are parked near charging stations.
- Though installation, maintenance, etc. are costly, they do contribute to the global shift toward sustainability. As more electric vehicles are purchased, greenhouse gas emissions decrease.
Ministry of Government and Consumer Services stepping In
The Ministry of Government and Consumer Services will be meeting with consultants, such as Gardiner Miller Arnold LLP partner Chris Jaglowitz and Plug’n Drive CEO Cara Clairman, to discuss potential changes to the Condominium Act. The group seeks to make changes to the act to account for technological advances that were not around when the act was written nearly two decades ago.
They will need to discuss all the risks and benefits associated with installation of these stations in condos across Ontario, especially in cases of older buildings that may pose safety risks, and come up with solutions that benefit tenants and property owners alike. Doing so will go a long way in helping condos to adhere to policies pertaining to sustainability and climate change. Though installation, maintenance, and repairs are costly, they do contribute to the global shift toward sustainability. As more electric vehicles are purchased, greenhouse gas emissions decrease. Likewise, such as change may pave the way for further eco-friendly improvements to be made and technological advances to be incorporated in condo buildings and their communities.
What the Act currently requires
According to section 46 of the Condominium Act of 1998, “A requisition for a meeting of owners may be made by those owners who at the time the board receives the requisition, own at least 15 per cent of the units, are listed in the record maintained by the corporation under subsection 47 (2) and are entitled to vote.” Section 97 of the act states, “A corporation may make an addition, alteration or improvement to the common elements, a change in the assets of the corporation or a change in a service that the corporation provides to the owners if,
- The corporation has sent a notice the owners that,
- Describes the proposed addition, alteration, improvement or change
- Contains a statement of the estimated cost of the proposed addition, alteration, improvement or change indicating the manner in which the corporation proposes to pay the cost,
- Specifies that the owners have the right, in accordance with section 46 and within 30 days of receiving the notice, to requisition a meeting of owners, and
- Contains a copy of section 46 and this section; and
- One of the following conditions has been met:
- The owners have not requisitioned a meeting in accordance with section 46 within 30 days of receiving a notice under clause (a).
- The owners have requisitioned a meeting in accordance with section 46 within 30 days of receiving a notice under clause (a) but have not voted against the proposed addition, alteration, improvement or change at the meeting.”