Fourth time lucky.
So hopes NDP MPP Rosario Marchese,
long-time champion of condominium law reform, as his latest legislation cleared a major hurdle Thursday.
The Trinity-Spadina MPP’s private member’s bill passed second reading in the house and now goes to a legislative committee for public hearings. Marchese believes it could it be enshrined in law before year’s end, which would be good news for Ontario’s 1 million condo owners.
Under his proposed law, there would be a condo review board, a tribunal to resolve disputes among owners, condominium boards, property managers, and developers.
His bill would also address construction matters such as soundproofing and improve new home warranties.
Celebrating his 60th birthday — Liberal and Progressive Conservative MPPs serenaded him with “Happy Birthday” in the chamber — the veteran New Democrat said the political stars are finally aligning for his crusade.
Because Ontario has a minority Liberal government, the opposition NDP and Tories have greater control over the committees that pore over new bills.
“I am hoping . . . because of the minority situation, we might be lucky enough to get it through the whole process,” said Marchese, whose three previews attempts at reform were quashed by the then-majority Liberal government.
“Every other bill I have introduced gets supported in second reading, but when it got sent to a legislative committee controlled by the government — in this case the Liberal government — they simply did not allow my bill to go forward for hearings. It died each and every time,” the MPP said.
Consumer Services Minister Margarett Best
was not in the chamber for the vote, but said the government is examining the issue.
“We are planning to review the Condominium Act. Certainly, it’s something . . . my ministry is looking into at this point in time,” Best told reporters after question period, promising “a very comprehensive review of the act.”
“We look forward to moving on this,” the minister said, praising Marchese for creating “a great opportunity to have a discussion on this issue.”
The New Democrat said something must be done because “condo owners have no legal protections in this province.
“When owners have problems with developers or property managers, they have little recourse other than going to court, which is an expensive proposition for most people and can take years to reach a decision,” he said.
“Buying a condo is the biggest purchase most people will make in their lives. It makes no sense to give condo owners less consumer protection than someone who buys a car.”
Todd Hofley, president of the Liberty Village Residents Association
and a nine-year condo owner, said he “can’t be enthusiastic enough” about Marchese’s legislation.
Hofley it would resolve most of the major issues condo owners now face in their homes.
In a statement, Dean McCabe, president of the Association of Condominium Managers of Ontario , conceded the1998 Condominium Act
needs revision, but urged a “broad-based approach that includes all stakeholders,” including developers.
Progressive Conservative MPP Jim McDonell (Stormont-Dundas-South Glengarry) said while his party feels “there are some good points in this bill,” there remain concerns about creating a new tribunal bureaucracy.
“We have to listen to the stakeholders. There has to be a low-cost dispute measure,” said McDonell.
“The money has to come from somewhere, and all condominium owners will pay one way or the other.”