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June 01, 2017

Ask Mara - A question of age

Legislation pending for removal of age-restricted condominiums

Maria Bartolotti

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Q: Dear Maria; My husband and I moved into an age-restricted condominium about three years ago. We have recently learned that the government is trying to remove the age restriction in Alberta. We’re empty-nesters and one of the great advantages of living in a 55-plus condo is that we share commonalities with our neighbours. We don’t have to deal with loud music or children running or playing through the hallways or on the common property. Is there anything we can do to prevent this legislation and keep our lifestyle?

A:On January 2017 the Alberta Court of Queen’s Bench directed that “age” was to be read into sections 4 and 5 of the Human Rights Act, thereby making it a protected ground. This has the potential of fundamentally changing condominium and homeowners association living for those who reside in projects and communities subject to an age restriction. The Government has until January 2018 to complete the amendments to the Legislation.

The delay in enacting the amendment allows interested parties the opportunity to bring forward their concerns. Section 3 of the Human Rights Act, relating to publications and notices, allows for a number of exceptions to the applicability of that provision. This shows that exceptions to the prohibition on age discrimination under sections 4 and 5 ought to be possible as well.

In February the Canadian Condominium Institute (CCI) South Alberta luncheon speaker, Roxanne Davis partner at Carbert Waite LLP, made it known that the government is considering a very broad implementation of the Human Rights Act. What does this mean to condominium owners? It meansthat the current accepted practice of allowing age restricted buildings will cease. It’s a serious matter indeed.

Many condominium owners rely upon articles in their bylaws, which restrict occupancy of the building by meansof an age requirement.

Whether it be a 35-plus building, a 50-plus building, or a 60-plus building, new legislation, should it pass, will make it illegal to discriminate onthe basis of age. CCI would like to emphasize that thisis not a done deal. Legislation has not yet been passed.

I would suggest that those of you who are concerned about this potential legislative change should also write to your local MLA to express your opinion on this legislation.

A sample letter and MLA Directory can be found on the Canadian Condominium South Alberta website that condominium owners may use. It is the CCI Southern Alberta’s opinion that current legislation restricting ownership on the basis of age should be maintained.

A thank you to Andrew Fulcher, CCI South Alberta Chapter, President and Stephanie Whyte of McLeod Law LLP, for the MLA Directory and letter and contribution to the above Article. 

Until next time… CL

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