Condo nightmare: The inside scoop on this week’s cover story

Tamsin McMahon explains why condo dwellers are finding themselves boxed in
VANCOUVER, CANADA - JUNE 3: The downtown skyline is viewed from Queen Elizabeth Park on June 3, 2013 in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. Vancouver is a seaport city with close trading ties to Asia and is the most populous city in Western Canada, with nearly 2.3 million residents in the metropolitan area. (Photo by George Rose/Getty Images)

Owning a home is at the heart of the Canadian dream. Nearly 70 per cent of us are now homeowners, a trend that shows no sign of abating despite our record-high house prices. But when you look at the kinds of homes we’re building in our cities, it’s pretty clear that what it means to be a homeowner is undergoing a profound change. More than 1.6 million Canadians now live in condominiums, a dramatic rise that has happened primarily in just the past decade. Toronto’s recent condo explosion gets all the attention. But we’re also building condos in Whitehorse and Calgary and Moncton.

Condos are not just a smaller kind of house — they’re an entirely different way of life. They sit at the nexus of private property and collective ownership. They’re a home, an investment and a corporation. Some compare condo boards to another level of government — one that’s run by your neighbours. It’s an apt comparison given that boards have an unprecedented amount of control over how you live, from raising monthly maintenance fees to pay for repairs, to prohibiting you from owning a dog.

For every story of condo harmony, there seem to be two tales of condo nightmares. This week’s cover story looks at the living hell of condo living. Watch for it on newsstands Thursday, in our digital edition later today, and online next week:

April 28, 2014 cover