Feeling emotionally available as the new year comes closer? Ants From Up There, the second studio album by British rock band Black Country, New Roads, deserves to be the newest thing to make you cry.
The esports hub at Conestoga’s Waterloo campus is now fully up and running and open for general drop-in play.
Spoke Online reporter Russel Evans takes you inside the brand new facility.
ELORA – The impact on the Greenbelt was the focus as dozens of local residents rallied here on Sunday afternoon to protest the provincial government’s Bill 23, the More Homes Built Faster Act.
Backed by a rap beat, a recording of Ontario Premier Doug Ford stating “We won’t touch the Greenbelt” played loud on a loop as the crowd waited to hear from Centre Wellington Mayor Shawn Watters and Ontario Green Party Leader and Guelph MPP Mike Schreiner in advance of a march through downtown Elora.
One of the organizers, Mike Nagy, dismissed the idea that taking more than 7,000 acres of protected land out of the Greenbelt would somehow alleviate the province’s housing crisis.
“Yesterday on YouTube I came across something from (Ontario Premier) Doug Ford in a private-room gathering from four years ago, talking to his friends, announcing how he was going to carve up the Greenbelt,” said Nagy.Related Articles
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“He (Ford) says ‘It wasn’t my idea.’ The biggest developers in the country told him it would be a good idea to give them more land and they’ll build more houses.
“We all know that carving up the Greenbelt and handing it over to private development will not build one attainable house, one affordable house in any community.”
“There’s a million things we can do other than carving up green space, taking up watersheds,” said Nagy, adding statistics released recently by Environment Canada show one in five species in Canada is now at risk of extinction.
“Are we going to wait until we are one of those on the list to start protecting the places and keeping the places that we have publicly funded for years and years, for generations, to keep in for clean water, biodiversity, to keep the green spaces that we all enjoy when we have 88,000 acres of housing lands already in reserve?
“Yeah, it is a ruse and it’s a lie and I call it profiting off of misery. And it is disaster capitalism at its worst.”
Several of the signs carried by rally-goers targeted Conservative Wellington-Halton Hills MPP Ted Arnott, some asking “Yoo hoo Ted, where are you?”
Introducing Schreiner, Nagy noted, “Ironically we have Guelph’s MPP, not our own MPP here today and I actually firmly believe … I don’t have an MPP. I don’t have someone that represents me. I don’t have an MPP partner in Queen’s Park that is supposed to be here for me.”
Schreiner, who has asked the province’s integrity commissioner to investigate the process that led to the Greenbelt conversion plan, said the environmentally-sensitive tract of land isn’t Ford’s to do with as he pleases.
“This isn’t a Greenbelt that was designed for him to basically hand over to a handful of land speculators to turn millions into billions …” said Schreiner.
“It doesn’t pass the smell test when somebody takes out a $100-million loan at 21% interest for land that you can’t develop. Who does that? So that’s exactly why I asked the integrity commission to investigate this.”
Though Bill 23 has already been passed into law, Schreiner said it’s not too late to speak up.
“Just a few weeks ago, when (Ford) tried to take away our Charter rights with the abuse of the notwithstanding clause, people stood up and said ‘No.’
“So we can do it again if you keep speaking out. Write the premier, put a sign in your yard, write your MPPs, go to these rallies – because it’s going to take people power to get the premier to back down.”♦
A rally opposing the impact of Bill 23 on Ontario’s Greenbelt was held in downtown Elora on Dec. 4. Participants marched through the downtown area after hearing from Centre Wellington Mayor Shawn Watters and Green Party Leader Mike Schreiner. Photo by Patrick Raftis
While regulations for implementing Bill 23 are still being developed, with some hoping that process will take some of the sting out of the legislation, another rally organizer, Peter Varty, said the group is aiming higher.
“The number one choice is that the bill is repealed, just as (Ford) did with the notwithstanding clause. So, if we get enough pressure he will hopefully take heat and repeal Bill 23,” said Varty.
“This is not about affordable housing,” Schreiner insisted.
“There’s already 88,000 acres, as Mike said, already approved for development within existing urban boundaries that Doug Ford’s own hand-picked housing affordability taskforce said was enough land to build the homes we need.”
Schreiner continued, “We do not need to touch the Greenbelt, we do not need to pave over the farmland that feeds us, the wetlands in nature that clean our drinking water and protect us from flooding.
“We don’t need to attack local democracy and raise people’s property taxes by taking the development charges away.”
Watters, during his turn at the microphone, was critical of the timing of the legislation, which was pushed through quickly on the heels of a municipal election.
“What really bothers me is how fast this has gone through,” said Watters, noting newly-elected councils did not have time to absorb the bill’s implications before it was passed.
“It’s been a brutal kind of thing to sort of get up to speed on this.”
Watters added, “Part of the issue is going to be how we’re going to deal with this growth and how we’re going to deal with … all the infrastructure issues. Really what they’re doing is, they’re moving towards … getting rid of, possibly, DC charges.
“That’s going to roll back onto the taxpayers. You guys, in many cases, have already paid for your house, paid for your roads and that kind of stuff … and that may come back to haunt all of us and we may be paying for this growth.”
Watters noted Wellington County council members spoke out against the legislation at the Dec. 1 council meeting.
“And county council tends to be very a conservative lot,” Watters observed.
“The anger coming out of county council was really pretty amazing. I’ve never seen that in 17 years that I’ve been involved with politics. So that tells you that something’s not right about this.”
After the speakers finished, rally-goers headed out for a march through the downtown, chanting “Doug Ford – hands off the Greenbelt,” many carrying signs urging the premier to “Keep your Greenbelt promise.”
Varty said organizers include members of Save Our Water and local Green Party volunteers, the event was not held under any particular banner.
“It is nothing really official. They’re just a bunch of citizens that come together in opposition to this,” he said.
The post Greenbelt impact the focus of Bill 23 rally appeared first on Wellington Advertiser.
Internet hacking or cybercrime is becoming very common in Canada. It is no secret that anyone with a computer or a smart device is at risk of getting hacked.
‘’I opened my small antique business in 2019, and all our transactions were done online. Within five months of opening the company, my website was hacked, and I suffered a huge loss,’’ said Jack Brian, owner of K& K Company.
Nowadays, people prefer to use online features for banking transactions and data input. Due to online transactions, the risk of cybercrime increases. Small businesses are often hit particularly hard by the crimes, since they try to keep up with consumer demand but invest less in cyber security features.
“It is essential to invest in cyber security within the organization to protect the customer’s trust, company’s assets, and reputation. Small businesses shut down easily due to cyber threats,”’ said Lucy Liu, a cyber crime and IT specialist.♦
CYBER CRIME CHART OF ALL COUNTRIES (REFERENCE – reviewlution.ca/resources/cyber-crime-statistics/
A recent report from Statistics Canada found that just under one-fifth (18%) of Canadian businesses were impacted by cybersecurity incidents, compared with 21% of Canadian companies in 2019 and 2017. One interesting point was that 16% of small businesses were affected, and the most common incidents were stealing money or financial or personal data.
‘’I had one IT specialist in my company, and due to the budget constraints, I did not invest well enough in cyber security, and that was the biggest mistake I made in my initial days. It took me months to gain customer’s trust again,’’ said Brian.
Internet hacking affects businesses to such a level that they suffer a bad reputation, loss of data, and loss in financial condition. People lose trust in business, and business sales are impacted to a large extent.
‘’Very few businesses report to police or cyber cell. Organizations should understand that reporting crime at the right time is very important,’’ said Liu.
The Conestoga Condors team fell just short to the Niagara Knights on Nov. 16, 2022 from a last second buzzer beater. Final score 87-85.
The Condors overcame an 11 point deficit at half to overcome St. Clair in overtime. Terell Lloyd and Ladera Ujullu-Obang combined for 83 points on the night.
GUELPH/ERAMOSA – Trying to teach her daughters about being kind and sensitive to the plight of others has gotten Mary Meads into a jam.
But she’s the first to admit it’s a jam she’s happy to be in, despite being currently up to her elbows in, well, jam.
“We talk to our kids a lot about privilege and giving back,” Meads said in an interview.
“I asked Charlie what is one thing she has that every child should have, and she said jammies. So that’s where this started.”
The project is called Jam for Jammies and while Meads is eager to say Charlie, 4, and Etta, 2, are in charge, and that 10-month-old Louise is a big help, it’s really falling to Meads.
She is selling jars of homemade jam and using the proceeds to buy children’s pajamas, which she is donating to Women in Crisis of Guelph-Wellington and the Rural Women’s Shelter.
And boy, has it taken off.
Meads said she thought the sale would only go as far as family and friends, but the reach of the project has gone much further.
Jam for Jammies has pre-sold 200 jars of jam and will be taking orders until Dec. 10, “then I’m out,” Meads said with a laugh.
Already she has purchased 47 pairs of pajamas and thinks that might be more than the women’s shelters can use.
In that scenario, she’s also looking at donating pajamas to neighbourhood groups that distribute hampers to families at Christmas.
With the swelling demand for jam, Meads has recruited her mother and some friends to make jam as well.
It’s not a stretch to make jam in her household, Meads said, adding it’s a fun thing to do in the summer and so nice to have fresh jam in the middle of winter.
But interest in the project has gone beyond her wildest expectations.
Meads owns Wellington Music Therapy Services, a job that takes her to retirement and long-term homes to work with seniors through music.
“Because of the work that I do, we talk about therapy and social justice all the time at home,” she explained.
“We’re not rich but we have a home, we are healthy, we have what we need. I want the girls to understand the whole notion of privilege and the duty to give back.”
Meads said the project has also lifted her own spirits as the community has really rallied around the project.
“I think people really want to give,” she said. “I think people are generous and want to find ways to give back. I think this many orders shows that.
“When you call for help, people step up.”
The jars of jam sell for $5 and come with packaging made by the girls. Meads said she could use some four-ounce mason jars if anyone has some to donate.
She’ll be taking orders until Dec. 10. Email email@example.com or visit their Facebook page.
The post Three local girls (and their mom) are selling ‘Jam for Jammies’ appeared first on Wellington Advertiser.
HANOVER – The Hanover Community Players’ (HCP) current production of Lionel Bart’s Oliver! Features a large cast including several Minto residents.
The show opened Dec. 1 at the Hanover Civic Theatre and productions continue Dec. 8 and 9 at 7:30pm and Dec. 10 and 11 at 2pm.
Minto residents in the cast include: Richard Jaunzemis, Bob Harron, Amy Saarjda, Ilja Saarjda, Joy Murray and Keely Murray.
HCP will donate $1 from each adult ticket sold to the Ontario Student Nutrition Program – Grey/Bruce.
“You’re helping HCP to help others when you purchase a ticket,” theatre officials note.
Because of the large costs attached to the production, ticket prices are raised for the musical: $30 for adults, $20 for youth 13 to 17, and $10 for children 12 and under.
A group rate for 10 or more people, attending the same show can be accessed by calling the box office.
Tickets are on sale at www.hanovercommunityplayers.ca. Patrons can also contact the box office by phone with questions for for information at 519-506-6902.
Officials state the theatre ventilation is “excellent with a good air turn-over.”
Masks are optional but the Ontario government does recommend the wearing of one when gathered in a larger group for audience and cast protection, theatre officials state.
The post Minto residents on stage for HCP production of Lionel Bart’s Oliver! appeared first on Wellington Advertiser.
KITCHENER — An investigation into a daytime break-in at a home on Grenville Avenue last month has concluded with the arrest of a Kitchener man and the seizure of an airsoft gun and what police describe as “a large quantity of drugs.”
On Monday, Waterloo Regional Police arrested a man in the King Street East area of Kitchener. When he was in custody, investigators found suspected fentanyl, cocaine, methamphetamine, a loaded firearm, cellphones and scales.
A 29-year-old Kitchener man is facing multiple charges, including break, enter and commit; five counts of possession for the purpose of trafficking; and numerous weapons-related charges.
He was held in custody for a bail hearing.
Marit Stiles is the one and only.
Stiles will be the next leader of the provincial New Democrats after she was the lone candidate to enter the party contest.
The NDP’s 1 a.m. Tuesday deadline passed with no other entrants signing up — more than two months after the Davenport MPP joined the race to replace Andrea Horwath, who resigned on June 2.
That means the new leader of the official opposition to Premier Doug Ford’s two-term Progressive Conservatives will effectively be acclaimed.
“Marit Stiles will work tirelessly to end the era of Conservative cuts and privatization by running to form a government that puts working people at the heart of everything we do,” party president Janelle Brady said Tuesday.
“Together with Marit, we will work to build a party and a 2026 election campaign with space for working people and labour, progressives, racialized and equity-deserving Ontarians, and young people,” said Brady.
“Marit can give people hope and unite the province to defeat Doug Ford — to make life affordable and rebuild and improve health care and education.”
An NDP news release said Canadian political parties have “a long tradition of unopposed leadership candidates going on to win the premier’s office in the next election,” including John Horgan, Dave Barrett, and Mike Harcourt in British Columbia.
Still, New Democrats frown upon acclamation and insist on votes even in uncontested nomination races, according to the party constitution.
A “confirmation vote” to rubber-stamp Stiles’ triumph will be held.
It remains unclear how long interim NDP leader Peter Tabuns will remain on the job.
Stiles is a former president of the federal NDP and a Toronto public school board trustee. The married mother of two was first elected as an MPP in 2018 after defeating Liberal incumbent Cristina Martins.
The Davenport MPP spent last summer building support for her bid.
“We need to be ready to win in 2026, and I feel like we can do that,” she told the Star recently.
This is the moment and this is the time … for us to dig deep and defeat Doug Ford.”
Party members, who had a Jan. 3 cutoff date to join the NDP, were supposed to elect the new leader on March 4.
Stiles will succeed Horwath, who had led the NDP since 2009. She quit on election night and was elected mayor of Hamilton in October.
A number of New Democrat MPPs had mulled bids, including Chris Glover (Spadina-Fort York), who was apparently trying to raise the required $55,000 entry fee as late as Monday afternoon.
Others who had considered running were Jill Andrew (Toronto-St. Paul’s), Catherine Fife (Waterloo), Sol Mamakwa (Kiiwetinoong), Laura Mae Lindo (Kitchener Centre), and Wayne Gates (Niagara Falls).
Stiles, who was born in Newfoundland, has been an NDP activist for 30 years.
One of her first jobs when she moved to Ontario was working for Gilles Bisson who, after 32 years in office, lost his Timmins seat to Tory George Pirie last June.
The one-candidate NDP leadership contest stands in contrast to previous races held by the Conservatives and Liberals who fielded many of hopefuls.
That has led to mockery from some quarters.
“Nobody is interested in their leadership race. Nobody is interested in their policies,” Municipal Affairs and Housing Minister Steve Clark said of the New Democrats in the legislature last month.
The leader of the opposition post pays $180,886 a year compared with the $116,550 base salary for an MPP.
Meanwhile, the Liberals — who won eight seats to the NDP’s 31 last spring despite getting slightly more votes across Ontario — have yet to determine when they will select their next leader.
Kristin Rushowy is a Toronto-based reporter covering Ontario politics for the Star. Follow her on Twitter: @krushowy
Robert Benzie is the Star’s Queen’s Park bureau chief and a reporter covering Ontario politics. Follow him on Twitter: @robertbenzie
Rob Ferguson is a Toronto-based reporter covering Ontario politics for the Star. Follow him on Twitter: @robferguson1
KITCHENER — Another venture-backed startup in the region laid off employees as investors pull back from the tech sector.
Bridgit, which created an online platform for managing construction projects, is the latest to cut jobs.
“The state of the economy has drastically changed over the past few months, and tech companies are needing to adjust,” said Mallorie Brodie, the co-founder and chief executive officer at Bridgit, in an email.
“We made the difficult decision to reduce our workforce by 13 team members over the last quarter to best position the business for the current economic environment,” added Brodie.
But the local economy seems to be somewhat resilient, despite the shifts and changes in local tech workplaces.
The startup sector runs on venture capital. As interest rates rise, treasury bills with guaranteed returns are often more attractive than the riskier startup economy. By the end of this fiscal year, Communitech member companies are expected to raise $1 billion, less than half the amount raised in the previous fiscal year.
The negative impact of rising interest rates is compounded by widespread predictions of a recession next year.
Venture capital could be even harder to raise next year, so startups are cutting costs now to make their cash last longer.
ApplyBoard, another darling of the region’s startup scene, cut 90 jobs last week and 30 in August.
“ApplyBoard is proud of the economic impact that we’ve contributed indirectly and directly in Canada,” says a statement from the company. “Over the last few years, we’ve created more than 30,000 jobs indirectly in Canada.”
The most recent cuts have not affected the company’s hiring plans, says ApplyBoard. “We continue to have a strong presence around the world and throughout Canada.”
Faire, which has headquarters in Waterloo and San Francisco, cut seven per cent of its workforce, but did not disclose the actual number of people laid off.
Both ApplyBoard and Faire were valued at billions of dollars last year by the investors who put hundreds of millions into both startups.
So far only two publicly traded tech companies have announced layoffs: Shopify cut about 1,000 workers six months ago, and D2L laid off about 60 people last month.
As the pandemic continues, some startups have moved to smaller offices and at least one closed its offices altogether.
Shopify Plus moved into the former Seagram Museum in 2015 and quickly hired more than 300 people. It had plans to acquire 60,000-square-feet of additional space in a new office building on Willis Way. At one point, it was looking for a third site as well.
Now, it has no offices in the region.
After the pandemic struck in March 2020, Shopify Plus’ workforce went remote. Meanwhile, Faire was growing quickly, and moved out of its office on King Street West in Kitchener, and took over the space on Willis Way that Shopify no longer needed.
Another tech company has since moved into the former museum space.
Communitech, the innovation hub based in the Tannery in downtown Kitchener, laid off 11 people, or 10 per cent of its workforce. Revenues are down at Communitech as fewer startups are leasing space in the Tannery.
For more than 10 years, the startup scene in Kitchener-Waterloo expanded greatly. Companies signed leases in custom-designed offices in old buildings redeveloped for the new economy.
Vidyard moved out of its two-floor office at 8 Queen St. N. in Kitchener and into a smaller space in the redeveloped American Hotel across the street. Vidyard’s former offices did not sit empty for long, as SkyWatch, a software firm specializing in satellite imagery, moved in.
The cutbacks by some startups are happening even before the country is in a recession, which is defined as two consecutive quarters with no economic growth.
But Ian McLean, the president of the Greater Kitchener Waterloo Chamber of Commerce, said nearly everyone is bracing for an economic slowdown. Kitchener and the region are a leading centre for tech companies, startups and advanced manufacturing, he added.
“I suspect whatever challenges come to the tech sector in the short term, it will probably lead the rebound as well,” said McLean.
So far, the cuts represent a tiny fraction of the region’s tech workforce, which is estimated at about 30,000.
Kurtis McBride, the cofounder and chief executive officer at Miovision, has reopened the company headquarters at Catalyst137 on Glasgow Street in Kitchener, and significantly expanded sales and marketing, thanks in part to a $10-million federal loan.
Miovision developed cameras, software and sensors that allow cities to remotely control traffic signals and improve the flow of vehicles. It also provides data in real time to traffic engineers that flag dangerous intersections that need design changes. In the past, engineer waited for years to compile numbers from accident reports.
“People keep telling me there is a recession, but I can’t find it yet,” said McBride.
Terry Pender is a Waterloo Region-based general assignment reporter for The Record. Reach him via email: firstname.lastname@example.org
WATERLOO REGION — Immigrant children showed welcome resilience when asked if they feel good about their mental health, and if they feel like they belong to their community.
University of Waterloo researchers surveyed 1,074 youths last year to gauge their well-being.
New results show that youths born outside Canada are more likely to assess their mental health as positive, more likely to feel a sense of belonging, and less likely to have a diagnosed anxiety disorder, compared to youths born here.
The survey found 67 per cent of youths not born in Canada see their mental health as positive, compared to 53 per cent of youths born in this country.
These are key indicators of youth well-being. The findings are welcome news during a period of surging immigration.
“Sometimes, young people who have come to Canada have left areas of the world that don’t have the same degree of stability,” said Alison Pearson, manager of community engagement at the Region of Waterloo. “By comparison, the life that they’re experiencing here may be contributing more to mental well-being.”
But there are also cautions in the survey findings. Youths not born in Canada are less likely to feel their competence and skills are recognized, and are more likely to have been forced to live temporarily with family or friends outside their home because they have no other place to go.
Pearson wonders if the reason children born outside Canada are less often diagnosed with a mental illness is because they have less access to mental health services.
“We would want as a community to dig in further on this,” she said. “Is it a difference in prevalence rates? Or could this be a difference in access?”
The survey of Waterloo Region youths aged nine to 18 included 132 youths born outside Canada who have lived here for eight years, on average. They come for countries that include the U.S., India, China, Pakistan, Eritrea, and the Philippines.
“My well-being was seriously challenged by the pandemic and immigrating,” one youth told surveyors. “The pandemic made it impossible for the start to my life here in Canada, and I feel like it was put on pause.”
Another youth called for more recreational activities to engage newcomers and help them improve their English.
Researchers say survey data shows that the needs and interests of youths differ based on factors such as where they were born, where they live today, their gender, housing, age, and sexual orientation. Social agencies are drawing equity-focused insights from the survey to craft new programs.
Waterloo Region received 27,840 immigrants between 2016 and 2021, twice as many as it received in the previous five years. The increase, driven by immigration from India, Syria and Eritrea, is helping change the face of the region.
Racialized people including Indigenous identities now account for 29 per cent of the regional population, almost one in three. Fewer than one in 10 residents was racialized in 1996.
Survey findings are being released by the Children and Youth Planning Table, a partnership of more than 60 agencies aiming for happy, healthy children.
Jeff Outhit is a Waterloo Region-based general assignment reporter for The Record. Reach him via email: email@example.com
In summer 2022 Mikita was evicted from her Ontario condo.
She’s a loyal, loving, seven-year-old who gets along well with others.
But she’s also a dog.
The wrong kind of dog.
“I was heartbroken,” said her owner Justin Price-Matthews in a recent interview.
“She’s been the only constant in my life, she’s everything.”
It’s just one tale from the province’s condo wars , neighbour-on-neighbour frustrations that are now fought at the Condominium Authority Tribunal (CAT), a body formed in late 2017 to have the final say on disputes between boards and owners, and keep them out of the courts.
Five years later, the province’s first fully online tribunal has made 375 orders and decisions, all of which are posted online, revealing a world of bitter, sometimes mundane, battles.
The overwhelming number are about record keeping and governance. But as the tribunal’s power and reach grow, it is set to play an increasing role in even the smallest details of condo life in the city. A report from Ontario’s Auditor General last week — a follow-up to a 2020 report on condo oversight — noted the tribunal’s mandate has expanded so that it is now ruling on a wide-variety of issues that go well beyond administrative matters, from parking to pets, balcony furniture and portable basketball nets, even playing the piano too loudly. The report notes plans to possibly expand the role in the coming year to further empower the tribunal, to eventually cover all condo-related disputes.
Against the backdrop of a housing crisis that has pushed a lot of people into condos, one of the more affordable and accessible rungs of the property ladder and a large chunk of rental stock, the stakes can be high. Critics say it can thrust residents — often self-represented owners against condo board lawyers — into a complex, months-long dispute process.
The Guelph condo that Price-Matthews rented simply did not allow “aggressive dogs,” including Dobermans like Mikita, Pit Bulls, Rottweilers, Akitas, “or such other breed as the board may determine, in its absolute discretion, from time-to-time.”
The dispute escalated to the CAT, which in June 2022 ordered Price-Matthews to find the animal another home within 21 days, unless he could provide a letter from a vet confirming she wasn’t a Doberman or mixed-breed Doberman, and his landlord was ordered to pay $1,700.
The lawyer for Wellington Standard Condominium Corporation No. 244, Robert Mullin, said that the condo board was required to enforce the dog aspect of the declaration — a hard-to-change clause he compared to a constitution — or it left itself open to other litigation. He’s empathetic to the human side of the story, he said, “but ultimately that empathy has to give way to accountability and this declaration does say, no Dobermans.”
It’s a reality that only condo owners, and tenants like Price-Matthews, need to contend with. Condo boards and the tribunal have become a form of governance that touches on the lives of tens of thousands in ways both large and small, especially in the GTA and Toronto, adding a whole new bureaucratic layer in an increasingly vertical city and region.
“Everyone fights with their neighbours, it’s not unique to condos, what’s unique about it, is there’s this place where you can go and adjudicate your neighbour dispute and it gets written about on the internet and you’re famous forever,” said condo lawyer Bradley Chaplick.
“Can you imagine if every single person could go to some sort of neighbour dispute tribunal where every time your neighbour takes their garbage out at 3 a.m. and wakes you up because you hear that rumbling of a city of Toronto garbage bin, you could sue them on the internet?”
“That’s what it is if you live in a condo.”
The tribunal sits under the Condominium Authority of Ontario, a body that was launched in 2017, as part of the Protecting Condominium Owners Act, to improve condo living through services and resources for owners.
In 2021, the provincial government expanded the CAT’s mandate hear issues beyond just access to information, to include issues about pets, vehicles, parking and storage. And as of January 2022 it also covers noise complaints, smoke, odour and other nuisances, said Robin Dafoe, chief executive officer and registrar of the condominium authority of Ontario.
According to tribunal decisions posted online, one dispute revolved around a condo charging $30 a month more for an extra person in the unit, a couple’s own child. One condo tenant was told to stop shaking out her rug over the balcony. Another, it was concluded, was allowed to keep a portable basketball net in the driveway, after a neighbour complained. The owner of a York region condo was ordered to remove a piece of gym equipment that he was trying to disguise by stringing Christmas lights on it (the condo only allowed “seasonal furniture” on the balconies).
Nicole Pauli, the owner of Price-Matthews’s unit, said she knew about Mikita when he moved it. But she was “so meek and docile, didn’t bark” she didn’t think it would be an issue.
“I’m a cat person, so I know an aggressive dog when I meet one,” she said, adding it left her in a tough position as a landlord trying to do the right thing. “In what reality am I allowed to go into somebody else’s home, take their dog, and do what?”
They ended up being taken to court, the ultimate arbitrator to enforce binding tribunal decisions, and Pauli was ordered to pay an additional $7,500 to the condo corp to cover legal costs.
She represented herself at both the tribunal and the court, which she said did her a disservice because she didn’t “know how to play that legal game.” Almost all owners and over 50 per cent of condo corporations are self-represented, according to the Condo Authority.
The condo’s lawyer Mullin said the case highlights how important it is for condo owners and tenants to read and understand declaration documents, which the tribunal upholds. “There’s very little discretion,” he said.
The 2020 Auditor General report found that it was more difficult for condo owners to afford lawyers, whereas condo funds could be used by boards to employ them, and recommended levelling the playing field though best practices such as requiring equal legal representation.
In the recent follow up report it found that the ministry intends to bring a policy recommendation for the government on this by the end of next year, as well as one about possibly expanding the tribunal’s mandate into even more condo issues.
The first step for condo dwellers at the tribunal is guided virtual negotiation (for $25), then mediation ($50) and finally, if it’s not settled by then, stage 3 is a binding tribunal decision from an adjudicator ($125). If a tribunal decision is not complied with, only then can a party go to the courts. Nearly two thirds of all cases are resolved in stages 1 and 2, according to stats provided by the Condo Authority.
“The goal is dispute resolution to help people enjoy their home and where they live,” Dafoe said.
“For $200 you can get your condo dispute settled in about six and a half months without leaving your condo, if you so desire.”
The tribunal is not without its critics. Mark Keast, a downtown condo board president who’s in the process of dealing with a noise complaint stuck in the “ridiculous molasses of mediation,” said it makes sense in theory. “But like a lot of things that are either politically or bureaucratically driven, the execution is an utter, debacle across the board,” he said, calling it a “toothless tiger.”
He would prefer a system where disputes went to arbitration, if mediation didn’t swiftly resolve the issue.
“The mechanism, conceptually, seems like it would have been smart, in actual execution, it’s an utter disaster,” said Keast.
Chaplick, the condo lawyer, called the tribunal’s decisions “a little uneven” and said there are some adjudicators who seem to understand condo law better than others, when combined with self-represented residents, “you’re going to get all these conflicting decisions.”
Compared to the Landlord and Tenant Board, which he praised for its efficiency, “you have the condo tribunal dealing with sort of like a comparative trickle of cases in a slow and very difficult manner.”
Dafoe disagrees, and said that overall the cases are resolved fairly quickly, within six and a half months on average.
“Comparing to the alternative of courts it’s pretty quick,” she said, adding they’ve gotten good feedback on the tribunal, especially the fact that it’s virtual. They aim to reduce barriers for applicants and reduce disputes as quickly as possible, working for both self-represented applicants and those that get lawyers.
“It has the teeth, it’s cost effective, and convenient.” she added.
“When you think of it at a systems level, it’s really pretty impressive.”
With more and more people living in condos, the tribunal also takes on a new reach. In Ontario, one in six households (15 per cent) were living in a condo in 2021, according to the most recent Canadian census, with Toronto (23.9 per cent) having the largest proportion in the province.
Price-Matthews, a 36-year-old carpenter, is no longer one of those people. He ended up quitting his job during the dispute. Unable to find another one-bedroom in his price range given the housing crisis, he moved to his parents’ property near Collingwood, where he now lives in a trailer. Luckily he was able to find another job but the process disrupted his entire life.
“They gave me 21 days to have her removed, how can I find a place to live, in less than 21 days?” he said.
“I never had to be removed,” he said, “but I can’t live without her.”
May Warren is a Toronto-based housing reporter for the Star. Follow her on Twitter: @maywarren11
From her earliest days singing in the church choir, Anne Nowak’s voice could be heard above the others, because of its beauty and its power.
Anne started singing in church choirs at age 11 and was encouraged by the choral director to take lessons, “which I did,” she said, in a radio interview when she was in her 20s. The choir director saw in the girl a natural talent that could be developed into something special.
While competing in Kiwanis Music Festivals, Anne was once named “girl vocalist showing outstanding promise.”
As Anne grew older an adjudicator in the Kiwanis festival was so impressed, he awarded the mezzo-soprano a silver medal and suggested she start serious studies in Toronto.
After high school, Anne completed a solo performers vocal diploma from the Royal Conservatory of Music in Toronto, graduating with honours. She also studied voice at Wilfrid Laurier University.
When she got earned the Royal Conservatory diploma, she had already been married two years to John Dlugokecki and had adopted his surname though she would also use the surname Duke throughout her career, mostly for ease of spelling and pronunciation.
She met John at a Polish legion dance and the two married in 1949 when she was 20. Her goal, aside from singing, was to raise a family.
Anne was born Nov. 7, 1929, in Kitchener, a middle child of Walter and Anna Nowak’s nine kids. The entrepreneurial Walter had started making sausages in the basement of the family home, a business he expanded to become Kitchener Packers. Most of the kids in the family, including Anne, worked in the business.
Later in life, reflecting on her choices, she told The Record, “I won several festival scholarships, but never aimed at a full-time career, knowing there were more meaningful priorities in this life and after.”
Her priority was always her family, including her seven children: Lucyll, Rick, Laurie, Ron, Lisa, Ray and Lynne. She also cared for her father and a sister, and anyone else in the family who needed nurturing.
Daughter Lynne Quigley said she doesn’t know how her mother managed to take care of so many people and, at the same time, establish herself as a much-in-demand singer.
“She always seemed to be around,” said Quigley, still mystified by her mother’s apparent ability to do it all.
Anne found ways to work in singing practices in her busy life as a stay-at-home. She once explained she was “always able to vocalize as I vacuum and memorize as I iron.” Rehearsing in German, French and Italian, it was quite a feat of multi-tasking.
In addition to being a consistent presence at home, Anne performed for 12 years in the Canadian Opera Company’s chorus and had regular solo performances with choirs and symphonies around Ontario. She also sang with the K-W Opera Guild, K-W Musical Productions and Laurier Singers.
Anne’s scrapbook is filled with newspaper clippings of her successful solo performances, with reviewers consistently praising her “dramatic intensity and vocal splendor.”
Anne would continue her early connection to Kiwanis by training young singers in her home, preparing them for the competition. She was also a church organist and choir conductor, and she made sure all her children were exposed to music from an early age.
All seven children were inspired by Anne’s love for music and singing, Quigley said. “All have performed, sung and or played musical instruments in various ways — school musicals, bands, choirs and of course our own family band in our younger days.”
“As a mom, she was very patient,” said daughter Laurie Lowe. “She also made sure everything was divided equally,” she recalls — not an easy task with seven kids.
“She had a good sense of humour,” said Lowe. “She knew a lot of people in the area because of her singing and she was very involved in the church.”
Herr husband John was more of a sports guy, busy running his own company, though he too could sing.
Son Ron Dlugokecki said Anne was always her children’s cheerleader, and was particularly supportive of their musical interests.
“She couldn’t do enough for her children, her grandchildren and her great-grandchildren,” he said. “She was putting her own hopes and dreams aside for us.”
But there could be embarrassing moments, when she’d suddenly burst into song. “If she was in the car driving, she’d be singing,” he said. “She’d get looks.”
The impromptu concerts usually involved opera and, as Ron said, “it wasn’t quiet or subdued.”
It wasn’t until later that Ron grew to appreciate these spontaneous performances.
John died in 2005, leaving Anne bereft, though the music never stopped. Dementia took hold, eventually causing her to move into long-term care. As the disease progressed, Anne lost the ability to speak, but she could still sing.
Anne died Nov. 18, just after her 93rd birthday.
Valerie Hill is a former Record reporter. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.