Returning to the Metro Toronto Convention Centre June 10 and 11, the 2020 REMI Show will address the impact of technology on management, building staffing and operations Held alongside the tradeshow floor will be a series of educational sessions addressing fours streams: new technologies; professional development and leadership; building performance; and energy efficiency and sustainability.
There will also be eight sessions addressing critical issues in the condo sector. The condominium sector advisory committee for the 2020 REMI Show recently gathered for the first time to discuss new realities and challenges the property management industry is facing, along with the condos they oversee. The members will guide the development of the condo segment and help advise on topics most pertinent to the industry to ensure topical and unique perspectives.
During the first committee meeting, a hot topic of discussion involved changes stemming from the new Condominium Act, which include mandatory training for condo directors, compulsory education and licensing of condo managers, streamlining of dispute resolution and consumer-protection. Many planned changes are not yet in effect, leaving the condo sector in limbo.
“The biggest thing in our industry right now are the changes that have gone on in the last few years with the new Condominium Act,” notes Eric Plant, a director with Brilliant Property Management.
Beyond the Condo Act, changing demographics are shaping the design and operational aspects of condos. Catherine Murdock, district manager with DEL Property Management, says Toronto’s condo sector has flourished for three decades, thanks to the influx of 100,000 newcomers to the city every year. Families are also feeding the demand for high-rise homes. But as new condos rise, are they truly serving the needs of the very demographics they target?
“People can’t afford to spend a million bucks plus for a single-family dwelling, so they are going to move into condos,” Murdock says. “But you have to make these vertical villages attractive to families.”
The increasing number of young people moving into condos is another factor fueling the demographic shift of condo dwellers. As Plant adds, this is “changing the dynamic in a big way – everything from the decoration of the lobby to how the building is being run.”
Technology was also a trending topic, with the advent of the 5G network driving change in the condo sector.
“Tenants are going to be demanding 5G,” advises Randal Froebelius, a member of the advisory committee for the condominium sector. “Rising tenant expectations for the 5G network aside, there is also the logistical challenge of making that wireless technology available. Because 5G requires 10 times as many antennas as 4G, there is going to be a wave of buildings being approached by carriers to put antennas up. This is going to affect the condo industry.”
On the topic of technology, Elena Schneider, vice-president of operations with ICON Property Management, pointed out that Ontario condo corporations’ ability to conduct owner voting by electronic means is another change made possible by the Condo Act.
“Electronic voting allows condominium owners to vote online, using a secure web-based platform in advance of a condominium meeting. The votes are tabulated securely by a third party, eliminating the need for scrutineers, paper ballots and ballot storage,” Schneider says.
Apart from helping condos achieve quorum in advance of a meeting, electronic voting also encourages owners to cast their votes online, eliminating the need for proxies and having to complete proxy forms, she adds.
Among other pertinent issues is the condo insurance crisis. As Liron Daniels, president of Nadlan-Harris Property Management says, rising insurance premiums are creeping up on the radar, and people need to be educated “about standard-unit bylaw and maintaining insurance claims to a minimum.”
On the human resources side, Daniels also stressed the difficulty in attracting and retaining building managers.
Murdock says this challenge could be exacerbated by the looming Jun 30, 2021 deadline—the date by which Transitional General licensees must complete the educational requirements to obtain a General Licence. Those who are unable to do so by the cut-off date would not be able to renew their licence.
“A lot of them are saying, ‘Look, I’m too old to go back to school, and they do know their job,” Murdock says. “We may lose over 600 managers.”
The industry risks losing these people who have decades of experience, she adds, and “that is not helpful for the new people coming in who need those mentors.”
John Wannamaker, director of condominiums with Berkley Property Management Inc., says the changes in legislations, such as the Condominium Authority of Ontario, the Condominium Management Regulatory Authority of Ontario and City and legislative bylaws have placed high expectations on the performance of today’s condominium-property managers.
In order for condo managers to be successful in this challenging industry, Wannamaker says they need to be leaders and possess a customer-service-oriented attitude. Being educated in the management of condominium living, having a clear understanding of building mechanicals and prior experience with customer relations are also important attributes of a condo manager.
“The future is bright and wide open for the right individuals who want to enter, or are currently in this industry, and have developed the skill set to continue,” Wannamaker adds.
Given the myriad changes and emerging trends radically shaking up the condo sector, the 2020 REMI Show’s high-calibre education program will address many of these issues. Industry newcomers and veterans alike will have the opportunity to hear from and meet with front-line professionals who are responding to these challenges, solving problems and driving innovation.
The overall educational program is designed with input from prominent players in Canada’s property management industry. It will also draw on North American and globally-sourced presenters, well-vetted case studies and effective management strategies to deliver critical insight into real issues that building owners and property/facility/operations managers face today.
We would like to thank our advisory committee members from the condo sector for sharing their time and insight.