Getting the Condo Act together

Sandra Iskra never thought that she would be able to afford her own her own home. As a single parent she had resigned herself to the fact that she would be renting.

Sandra Iskra never thought that she would be able to afford her own her own home.

As a single parent she had resigned herself to the fact that she would be renting. But, after putting herself through nursing school, her fortunes changed.

Last December, Iskra bought a condo in the Mountain Air Estates complex.

“This was my dream come true, essentially,” she said.

But when the snow melted this spring, her basement started to leak. Suddenly, the condo didn’t seem so dreamy.

“It brought dirt in from the outside, so obviously it wasn’t sealed up properly where the pipes enter the house,” said Iskra.

She notified the developer immediately and they sent someone out to take a look at the leak right away. But after she didn’t hear anything for several weeks, she started to get anxious.

“I don’t want to be overly critical,” she said. “I just want to know what’s going to be done, and that it is going to be done.”

But behind the scenes, things were in motion.

“She first contacted us on April 22 and within the week we redid some grading,” said Duncan Lillico, president of the Falcon Ridge Development Corporation, which built the condos.

This week, they did more work to make sure that water would drain properly.

“Even with the recent rain, we were down in her basement (Wednesday), and there’s absolutely nothing going in at this point,” said Lillico. “I’m not saying that it’s 100 per cent rectified. It may be that we discover that there is still a little bit of leakage and have to do something else, but we will do that if we have to.

“It’s our responsibility.”

For Iskra, the lack of communication was frustrating.

“It’s a lot easier to be patient if you know what’s going on,” she said.

With the number of condos that have sprung up in Whitehorse over the last few years, issues like this are all too common, said Sonny Gray.

He’s a local property manager who is helping to create the Whitehorse Condo Association. It’s an umbrella group of condo owners and boards that will, he hopes, work to lobby government to address some of the problems with condos now springing up.

But condo owners aren’t the only ones concerned.

In a recent meeting Gray had with territorial mortgage brokers, they expressed concern about the future of the condo market, he said.

“They basically have concerns about mismanagement of condo corporations and mismanagement of funds,” he said.

Right now, the territory’s Condominium Act doesn’t require condo boards to hold contingency funds. That’s money set aside for things like repairs and maintenance.

“Some districts have an annual check in to see if condo fees are high enough to be able to support the condo corporation,” said Gray. However, the Yukon is not one of them.

The Condominium Act requires a board to open its books to its members. But the process is not always straight forward. That’s something Ann Caron, who lives in the Mountain View condos, learned the hard way.

Getting her own condo board to release its financials has been like pulling teeth, she said.

The board would only do so through their lawyer, which took more than two months to arrange.

When she finally picked up the documents, she found the board had given her some but not all of the information she sought for the last couple of years. “There was no ledger and no receivables,” said Caron.

However, the board did include a letter from its lawyer stating that it felt it had met the obligations under the law. If she wanted more, she would have to take them to court.

The Mountain View condo board did not respond to requests for an interview.

“It’s frustrating, because there’s no one you can go to,” said Caron.

The Yukon’s Condominium Act dates from the 1960s, while the Land Titles Act hasn’t seen any significant changes since 1897.

The government is currently working on replacing both pieces of legislation.

Gray, as a representative of the burgeoning condo association, has been invited to take part in the process, but with a three-year timeline, he’s worried that it might take too long.

“Three years from now the development’s going to be over,” he said. “We’re going to be all caught up in terms of condos.”

He’s pushing the government to make a few changes right away, like mandatory contingency funds for condo boards and some sort of annual review to make sure it’s being done.

“If suddenly you get a letter in the mail saying, ‘Guess what? All the roofs are shot. We need $5,000 each. Pony up,’ some people don’t have that kind of money just sitting in reserves,” said Gray. “That’s the job of a condo corporation.”

However, disputes with developers aren’t covered under the Condominium Act, and likely won’t be under any revision.

There has been talk by mortgage brokers of extending the territory’s new home warranty to five years, from the current standard of one, said Gray. Developers he’s approached have been hesitant to embrace the idea.

But not all are reluctant. “I think it would be a good idea for that to be mandatory,” said Lillico.

It’s been only a few weeks since Gray got the ball rolling on this association, and with the way things have been moving, he’s very optimistic about the future.

“We’ve got condo owners, developers and mortgage brokers all saying the same things need to change,” he said. “It’s just a matter of getting that change implemented.

“Now the onus is going to be on the city and the government.”

Contact Josh Kerr at

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Premier Sandy Silver, left, and Yukon’s Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Brendan Hanley speak at a COVID-19 update press conference in Whitehorse on Nov. 19. On Nov. 24, Silver and Hanley announced masks will be mandatory in public places as of Dec. 1, and encouraged Yukoners to begin wearing masks immediately. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Masks mandatory in public places starting on Dec. 1

“The safe six has just got a plus one,” Silver said.

Dr. Brendan Hanley, Yukon’s chief medical officer of health, speaks at a press conference in Whitehorse on March 30. Hanley announced three more COVID-19 cases in a release on Nov. 21. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Three more COVID-19 cases, new exposure notice announced

The Yukon’s Chief Medical Officer of Health, Dr. Brendan Hanley, announced three… Continue reading

Yukonomist Keith Halliday
Yukonomist: COVID-19 strikes another blow at high-school students

They don’t show up very often in COVID-19 case statistics, but they… Continue reading

The Cornerstone housing project under construction at the end of Main Street in Whitehorse on Nov. 19. Community Services Minister John Streicker said he will consult with the Yukon Contractors Association after concerns were raised in the legislature about COVID-19 isolation procedures for Outside workers at the site. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News)
Concerns raised about alternate self-isolation plans for construction

Minister Streicker said going forward, official safety plans should be shared across a worksite

Beatrice Lorne was always remembered by gold rush veterans as the ‘Klondike Nightingale’. (Yukon Archives/Maggies Museum Collection)
History Hunter: Beatrice Lorne — The ‘Klondike Nightingale’

In June of 1929, 11 years after the end of the First… Continue reading

Samson Hartland is the executive director of the Yukon Chamber of Mines. The Yukon Chamber of Mines elected a new board of directors during its annual general meeting held virtually on Nov. 17. (Joel Krahn/Yukon News file)
Yukon Chamber of Mines elects new board

The Yukon Chamber of Mines elected a new board of directors during… Continue reading

The Yukon Hospital Corporation has released its annual report for 2019-20, and — unsurprisingly — hospital visitations were down. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Annual report says COVID-19 had a large impact visitation numbers at Whitehorse General

The Yukon Hospital Corporation has released its annual report for 2019-20, and… Continue reading

Whitehorse City Hall. (Joel Krahn/Yukon News file)
City hall, briefly

A look at decisions made by Whitehorse city council this week

City council was closed to public on March 23 due to gathering rules brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic. The council is now hoping there will be ways to improve access for residents to directly address council, even if it’s a virtual connection. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Solution sought to allow for more public presentations with council

Teleconference or video may provide opportunities, Roddick says

Megan Waterman, director of the Lastraw Ranch, is using remediated placer mine land in the Dawson area to raise local meat in a new initiative undertaken with the Yukon government’s agriculture branch. (Submitted)
Dawson-area farm using placer miner partnership to raise pigs on leased land

“Who in their right mind is going to do agriculture at a mining claim? But this made sense.”

Riverdale residents can learn more details of the City of Whitehorse’s plan to FireSmart a total of 24 hectares in the area of Chadburn Lake Road and south of the Hidden Lakes trail at a meeting on Nov. 26. (Ian Stewart/Yukon News file)
Meeting will focus on FireSmart plans

Riverdale residents will learn more details of the City of Whitehorse’s FireSmarting… Continue reading

The City of Whitehorse is planning to borrow $10 million to help pay for the construction of the operations building (pictured), a move that has one concillor questioning why they don’t just use reserve funds. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News)
Councillor questions borrowing plan

City of Whitehorse would borrow $10 million for operations building

Most Read