There’s a long history of murky rules around pet ownership within the world of Ontario condos. But now the Harbour View Estates condo board that oversees CityPlace condo buildings 5 Mariner Terrace and 3 Navy Wharf Court, a development which sits just north of Lakeshore Blvd. West near Spadina Ave, is getting tougher on enforcement.
In 2016, the condo board passed a pet ban on residents acquiring any new pets – ones that had not already been registered with their residents’ properties. The ban applied to any and all pets – from reptiles to cats and dogs. But things took a turn this summer with an increase in pet-related complaints on bad behaviour including urinating in elevators and growling at residents in public areas.
The boiling point came when resident Jen Fischer was confronted by a concierge after walking in with her foster dog “Tofu”. Since the dog hadn’t been registered, Fischer was served notice from the property management company advising her that Tofu had to be relocated within two weeks time. Fischer’s other dog was permitted to stay because the property management company had already received its registration.
Since the incident, Fischer has launched an online petition on Change.org to overturn the ban. She suggests that the condo board’s all or nothing thinking is what’s really offside here and that there are plenty of other measures that could be taken. “Maybe they should deal with people who actually break the rules, like having their animals defecate places they shouldn’t, rather than doing a full ban on everyone. It is really unfair,” Jen Fischer told CP24.
Unfair, but perfectly legal. While landlords cannot technically refuse tenant applications because of a pet, condo boards are legally allowed to tailor the rules however they wish when it comes to pet ownership. This is unfortunate considering the fact that pets have dramatic effects on people’s mental health.
While Fischer’s petition has gained traction, a special meeting to discuss the ban can only be called if she gains the support of at least 15 per cent of the 597 unit owners at the two buildings. That said, there are plenty of animal lovers vocalizing their support. “Everyone deserves the right to have a dog in their home whether it’s a condo, apartment or house”, one commenter wrote in the petition. Another said, “Enough is enough with this discrimination against pet owners. It has been scientifically proven that pet companions create healthier human beings.”
Fischer stays hopeful that the ban will be overturned and be replaced by less punitive measures. Perhaps a ticketing system?
Meanwhile, Gary Pieters, a member of the CityPlace Residents Association told CP24, “There is a clear divide among residents who are pet owners and residents who are non-pet owners.” Still, Pieters opines that not all pets should be banned. “There are issues with some pets and they are the exception, not the rule. But it does create tension. They are being allowed to run in non-off-leash areas, they are growling at residents in the lobbies, urinating in the elevators, urinating from balconies and down onto other people’s balconies!”
The real question is – what happens when all the registered pets are gone? Is this the board’s way of ultimately creating a pet-free facility? Is this the future of condo living in Toronto?
Given the challenges of designing pet-friendly areas for high-density living, condo owners may one day be confronted with the choice of whether to own a condo or a pet.
“[At CityPlace] there are 30,000 people and there is one park,” Peiters told CP24. “And that one park has a little tiny temporary dog run and there have been clashes between dog owners and non-dog-owners over the use of the turf. It is not a place where dogs should be but that is where a lot of owners take their dogs to exercise. The city did not account for it.”
Fischer does not yet have a date set for the condo board meeting but is still working to collect signatures. Until then, Toronto developers and would-be condo owners watch and wait for the outcome.
“It is hard enough for renters to find places that are pet-friendly in Toronto,” Fischer tells CP24. “So I think this is creating a really dangerous precedent in CityPlace.”
Only time will tell whether the other CityPlace buildings will follow suit with a similar ban on pets. That’s going to make for a lot of unhappy residents.