Fallout from the nuclear family model - Denny Scott editorial
Since I first saw mention of it last week, the expectation for people to be “married” or part of a “single family” to be able to live in Toronto condominiums has blown up, with one incident seeming to explode into numerous concerns from various stakeholders.
This column started as some of my previous ones have over the past couple years: as an issue I brought forward to our editorial board. The board, which consists of Publisher Deb Sholdice, Editor Shawn Loughlin and myself, decide what we write about on the facing page and, unlike what I write here, which reflects my own opinion, the editorials are supposed to be represent the stance of all three of us, as well as the newspaper itself, with some personal flair thrown in.
Last week, one of the half-dozen issues I brought up was the story of Michael Cowan and his girlfriend, who live in a Toronto condominium.
Cowan, who moved into his condo last year, invited his partner of six months to live with him. Everything seemed to be going fine until the condo board said the two would need a marriage licence to share the space. It’s a rule of the Metropolitan Toronto Standard Condominium Corporation’s, and it isn’t the only company to have such bylaws.
Experts say the rules exist to prevent “disruptive” or “short-term” renters that could denigrate the experience of living in the buildings. However, many agree they are, at best, antiquated rules and, at worst, discriminatory.
Cowan has pointed out, in an interview with CTV News, that the ruling isn’t just because it lets a corporation define what a family is.
Unfortunately for Cowan and his partner, the condo board stood firm, even after Cowan’s building manager tried to mediate the situation. Since then, Cowan’s partner’s key fob has been disabled, effectively preventing access to the building.
The story broke on Tuesday, and after that, more and more people came forward saying that the rules prevent all manner of family types from being permitted to live together, including the LGBTQ2S+ community.
Roncesvalles condominium owner Paula Boutis was surprised to find a similar rule and, last year, filed a human rights complaint over it, saying it was morally offensive. She’s seen no movement on the complaint, however, saying she doesn’t even know if the Human Rights Tribunal will even consider it. Her lawyer pointed out that these kinds of issues take as long as a year and a half to normally address, however, due to COVID-19, it could take two to three years.
While there is a Condo Appeals Tribunal to handle similar issues, it’s limited in scope and can’t handle discrimination issues.
While some condominium companies have different wording, or have ignored it to allow people to live together, many have exactly the same wording and adhere to it, including one condominium company that put up signs saying that a situation in which twocousins want to be roommates doesn’t fit the bill when it comes to what’s allowed.
While there are rules, specifically in Ontario’s Human Rights Code, that say this kind of discrimination isn’t allowed, the Ministry of Government and Consumer Affairs hasn’t said it will pursue having the rules changed.
The whole thing is a horribly outdated situation, however, given that it’s mostly in downtown Toronto and the GTA’s boroughs and surrounding communities, why would I care so much about it?
Well, with a four-storey building being proposed in Wingham (that’s the height of five typical storeys, apparently), condos may not be far off for our small towns and villages.
However the major problem, as far as I’m concerned, is that people shouldn’t be allowed to prejudge people, because I’ve been there, specifically about 11 years ago when I was looking to move into Blyth.
I know I’ve talked about this before but, at the time, there just weren’t places for rent for a young couple like my then-girlfriend, now-wife and myself. We looked at apartments and were told they were looking for more “senior” renters. Fortunately, we found a house we could buy, but that’s not a reality for many young couples in the area with prices the way they are.
With the overvaluing of housing (which could be upwards of 91 per cent according to one recent report by Moody’s Analytics), rental units are needed now more than ever, and they’re needed by people of all ages, races, creeds and family situations, and rules that allow corporations to pass judgment on people’s personal lives, unless their activities can be empirically observed to impact other renters, need to be done away with.