Skip to main content Accessibility help
×
Home

Condominium Government and the Right to Live in the City

  • Douglas C. Harris (a1)

Abstract

Condominium is an architecture of land ownership that produces separate, privately owned units within multi-unit developments. Condominium also constructs a form of private, democratic government, described as a fourth order of government, that acts beneath federal and provincial governments, and alongside municipal government, to govern owners and their property. This article considers a conflict between residential-unit owners and a commercial-unit owner within a condominium development in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside. Drawing from material produced in litigation, the article situates the dispute within its property and urban contexts to argue that condominium government requires attention, and not just for its impact on owners, or even residents within, but also because cities must now account for, work alongside, and, in some circumstances, contend with these rapidly proliferating sites of government that are helping to shape who has the right to live in the city.

La copropriété est une architecture qui soutien une forme de propriété foncière produisant des unités séparées et privées au sein de développements à logements multiples. Les copropriétés construisent également une forme de gouvernement privé et démocratique, décrit comme un quatrième ordre de gouvernement, qui agit sous l’autorité des gouvernements fédéral et provinciaux et aux côtés des gouvernements municipaux pour régir les propriétaires et leurs biens. Cet article traite du conflit entre les propriétaires d’unités résidentielles et un propriétaire d’unités commerciales dans le cadre d’un projet de développement de copropriétés situé dans le quartier Downtown Eastside de Vancouver. En s’inspirant des documents produits dans le cadre de ce litige, l’article situe le différend dans son contexte foncier et urbain pour soutenir que le gouvernement des copropriétés nécessite une attention particulière, non seulement pour son impact sur les propriétaires, mais également sur les résidents. Plus encore, cet article soutient que les villes doivent maintenant rendre compte, travailler aux côtés, voire même s’opposer dans certaines circonstances, à ces sites de gouvernement qui se multiplient rapidement et qui contribuent à déterminer qui a le droit de vivre en ville.

  • View HTML
    • Send article to Kindle

      To send this article to your Kindle, first ensure no-reply@cambridge.org is added to your Approved Personal Document E-mail List under your Personal Document Settings on the Manage Your Content and Devices page of your Amazon account. Then enter the ‘name’ part of your Kindle email address below. Find out more about sending to your Kindle. Find out more about sending to your Kindle.

      Note you can select to send to either the @free.kindle.com or @kindle.com variations. ‘@free.kindle.com’ emails are free but can only be sent to your device when it is connected to wi-fi. ‘@kindle.com’ emails can be delivered even when you are not connected to wi-fi, but note that service fees apply.

      Find out more about the Kindle Personal Document Service.

      Condominium Government and the Right to Live in the City
      Available formats
      ×

      Send article to Dropbox

      To send this article to your Dropbox account, please select one or more formats and confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your <service> account. Find out more about sending content to Dropbox.

      Condominium Government and the Right to Live in the City
      Available formats
      ×

      Send article to Google Drive

      To send this article to your Google Drive account, please select one or more formats and confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your <service> account. Find out more about sending content to Google Drive.

      Condominium Government and the Right to Live in the City
      Available formats
      ×

Copyright

Footnotes

Hide All
*

I thank Vivienne Stewart for providing access to material from the Omnicare Pharmacy litigation, Eric Leinberger for drawing the maps, Curtis Chance for research assistance, and Erez Aloni, Nicholas Blomley, Cole Harris, Hoi Kong, David Ley, Eric Reiter, Graham Reynolds, Sara Ross, and three anonymous reviewers for comments on earlier drafts.

Footnotes

References

Hide All

1 The Strata Property Act, SBC 1998, c 43 [SPA], creates the province’s condominium regime. In this article, I use condominium when discussing the legal form in general terms and strata property when referring to the details of British Columbia’s statutory regime.

2 Early descriptions of condominium as a fourth order, level, or tier of government include: Sherry, Cathy, “The Legal Fundamentals of High Rise Buildings and Master Planned Estates: Ownership, governance and living in multi-owned housing with a case study on children’s play,” Australian Property Law Journal 16, no. 1 (2008): 8, 11; Easthope, Hazel and Randolph, Bill, “Governing the Compact City: The Challenges of Apartment Living in Sydney, Australia,” Housing Studies 24, no. 2 (2009): 248; Easthope, Hazel, “The Fourth Tier of Governance: Managing the future of our cities” (paper, State of Australian Cities Conference, Perth, Australia, 27 November 2009); Lippert, Randy K., “Mundane and Mutant Devices of Power: Business Improvement Districts and Sanctuaries,” European Journal of Cultural Studies 13, no. 4 (2010): 490; Fanaken, Gerry, Understanding the Condominium Concept: An insightful guide to the Strata Property Act (Coquitlam, BC: Paige Condominium Services Ltd., 2013), 22. The description has also appeared in various law reform reports including: Public Policy Forum, Growing Up: Ontario’s condominium communities enter a new era (September 2013), 10, 15.

3 See Ellickson, Robert, “Cities and Homeowners Associations,” University of Pennsylvania Law Review 130, no. 3 (1981): 1521–23; Kennedy, David J., “Residential Associations as State Actors: Regulating the impact of gated communities on nonmembers,” Yale Law Journal 105 (1995): 787–89. See also the reasons for decision cited in footnotes 106–108.

4 For an early analysis, see Reichman, Uriel, “Residential Private Governments: An introductory survey,” University of Chicago Law Review 43 (1975): 253306.

5 Barton, Stephen E. and Silverman, Carol J., “Preface,” in Common Interest Communities: Private governments and the public interest, ed. Barton and Silverman (Berkeley: Institute of Governmental Studies Press, 1994), xii.

6 Low, Setha, Donovan, Gregory T., and Gieseking, Jen, “Shoestring Democracy: Gated condominiums and market-rate cooperatives in New York,” Journal of Urban Affairs 34, no. 3 (2012): 279–96.

7 Treffers, Stefan R. and Lippert, Randy K., “Condominium Self-Governance? Issues, External Interests, and the Limits of Statutory Reform,” Housing Studies (2019): 2.

8 Glasze, Georg G., “Private Neighbourhoods as Club Economies and Shareholder Democracies,” BelGeo 1 (2003): 92.

9 Blomley, Nicholas, “The Right to Not Be Excluded: Common property and the struggle to stay put,” in Releasing the Commons: Rethinking the futures of the commons, ed. Amin, Ash and Howell, Philip (London: Routledge, 2016), 89106.

10 Ley, David, “The Downtown Eastside: ‘One hundred years of struggle’,” in Neighbourhood Organizations and the Welfare State , ed. Hasson, Shlomo and Ley, David (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1994), 172204; Blomley, Nicholas, Unsettling the City: Urban land and the politics of property (New York: Routledge, 2003).

11 Blomley, Nick, “Property, Pluralism, and the Gentrification Frontier,” Canadian Journal of Law & Society 12, no. 2, (1997): 187218; Heather Anne Smith, “Where Worlds Collide: Social polarisation at the community level in Vancouver’s Gastown/Downtown Eastside” (PhD diss., The University of British Columbia, 2000), 289–298, https://open.library.ubc.ca/cIRcle/collections/ubctheses/831/items/1.0089665.

12 On the connections between condominium and gentrification in Canada, see Ley, David, The New Middle Class and the Remaking of the Central City (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1996), 1–2, 4851; Lehrer, Ute and Weiditz, Thorben, “Condominium Development and Gentrification: The relationship between policies, building activities and socio-economic development in Toronto,” Canadian Journal of Urban Research 18, no. 1, (2009): 82103; Kern, Leslie, Sex and the Revitalized City: Gender, condominium development, and urban citizenship (Vancouver: UBC Press, 2010); Rosen, Gilad and Walks, Alan, “Rising Cities: Condominium development and the private transformation of the metropolis,” Geoforum 49 (2013): 160172; and Rosen, Gilad and Walks, Alan, “Castles in Toronto’s Sky: Condo-ism as urban transformation,” Journal of Urban Affairs 37, no. 3, (2015): 289310.

13 Omnicare Pharmacy Ltd v The Owners, Strata Plan LMS 2854, 2017 BCSC 25 [Omnicare Pharmacy].

14 For a discussion of world-wide trends, see Glasze, Georg, Webster, Chris, and Frantz, Klaus, eds., Private Cities: Global and Local Perspectives (London: Routledge, 2006); Rosen and Walks, “Rising Cities,” supra note 12.

15 See Harris, Douglas C., “Condominium and the City: The rise of property in Vancouver,” Law & Social Inquiry 36, no. 3, (2011): 694726. See also Lauster, Nathanael, The Death and Life of the Single-Family House: Lessons from Vancouver on building a livable city (Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 2016), 8788, on the corresponding decline in detached houses as a proportion of dwellings.

16 Of 283,915 occupied private dwellings, 94,835 were within condominium. Statistics Canada, Vancouver, CY [Census subdivision], British Columbia and Canada [Country] (table), Census Profile, 2016 Census. Statistics Canada Catalogue no. 98-316-X2016001 (Ottawa: released November 29, 2017). https://www12.statcan.gc.ca/census-recensement/2016/dp-pd/prof/index.cfm?Lang=E (accessed September 2, 2019).

17 Of 960,895 occupied private dwellings, 293,765 were within condominium. Statistics Canada, Vancouver [Census metropolitan area], British Columbia and Canada [Country] (table), Census Profile, 2016 Census. Statistics Canada Catalogue no. 98-316-X2016001 (Ottawa: released November 29, 2017). https://www12.statcan.gc.ca/census-recensement/2016/dp-pd/prof/index.cfm?Lang=E (accessed September 2, 2019).

18 Of 1,112,930 occupied private dwellings, 292,260 were within condominium. Statistics Canada, Toronto, C [Census subdivision], Ontario and Canada [Country] (table), Census Profile, 2016 Census. Statistics Canada Catalogue no. 98-316-X2016001 (Ottawa: released November 29, 2017). https://www12.statcan.gc.ca/census-recensement/2016/dp-pd/prof/index.cfm?Lang=E (accessed September 2, 2019).

19 The number of Canadian households living within condominium increased by 16.6% in census metropolitan areas and by 11.9% in other regions from 2011 to 2016. Statistics Canada, Condominiums in Canada, 2016 Census of Population (25 October 2017). https://www150.statcan.gc.ca/n1/pub/11-627-m/11-627-m2017030-eng.htm.

20 Hyatt, Wane S., Condominium and Homeowner Association Practice: Community association law, 3rd ed. (Philadelphia: American Law Institute-American Bar Association, 2000), uses the term “community association” to describe the governing bodies within homeowners’ associations.

21 McKenzie, Evan, “Rethinking Residential Private Government in the US: Recent trends in practices and policy,” in Private Communities and Urban Governance, ed. Lehavi, Amnon (Switzerland: Springer, 2016), 52.

22 Nelson, Robert H., “Privatizing the Neighbourhood: A proposal to replace zoning with private collective property rights to existing neighbourhoods,” George Mason Law Review 7 (1998): 832.

23 Alexander, Gregory, “The Publicness of Private Land Use Controls,” Edinburgh Law Review 3 (1999): 185.

24 Rosen and Walks, “Rising Cities,” supra note 12, 170.

25 Ibid., 168.

26 Lippert, Randy K., “Urban Neoliberalism, Police, and the Governance of Condo Life,” in Governing Practices: neoliberalism, governmentality, and the ethnographic imaginary, ed. Brady, Michelle and Lippert, (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2016), 193 [reference omitted].

27 Lippert, Randy K., Condo Conquest: Urban governance, law, and condoization in New York City and Toronto (Vancouver: UBC Press, 2019).

28 Easthope, Hazel, The Politics and Practices of Apartment Living (Cheltenham, UK: Edward Elgar, 2019), 159.

29 See Sherry, Cathy, Strata Title Property Rights: Private governance of multi-owned properties (London: Routledge, 2017) for a legal analysis of condominium governance.

30 Omnicare Pharmacy, supra note 13.

31 Ibid., paras 134, 164.

32 Strata Titles Act, SBC 1966, c 46. For details, see Harris, “Condominium and the City,” supra note 15.

33 SPA, supra note 1, s 239.

34 SPA, supra note 1, s 2.

35 Ibid., s 2.

36 2475813 Nova Scotia Ltd. v Rodgers, 2001 NSCA 12 at 5.

37 SPA, supra note 1, s 28.

38 Ibid., s 4.

39 Ibid., s 53(1).

40 Ibid., s 31.

41 Ibid., s 164.

42 Ibid., s 3.

43 Ibid., s 119.

44 Ibid., s 120.

45 Ibid., s 119.

46 Ibid., Standard Bylaws, s 3(1)(a).

47 Ibid., s 123.

48 Ibid., ss 121(2)(a).

49 Ibid., ss 121(2)(c), 123(1.1).

50 See the maps displaying shifting patterns of land use by decade in Bruce Macdonald, Vancouver: A visual history (Vancouver: Talon Books, 1992).

51 City of Vancouver, Downtown Eastside Plan, 2nd Amended Edition, 2018 (approved by Vancouver City Council, March 15, 2015) https://vancouver.ca/files/cov/downtown-eastside-plan.pdf.

52 Ibid., 42.

53 Ibid., 47.

54 For some of the literature on the Downtown Eastside see Sommers, Jeff and Blomley, Nick, “The Worst Block in Vancouver,” in Stan Douglas: Every Building on 100 West Hastings, ed. Shier, Reid (Vancouver: Arsenal Press, 2002), 1861.

55 In 1994, British Columbia’s Chief Corner JV Cain produced the Report of the Task Force into Illicit Narcotic Overdose Deaths in British Columbia (British Columbia: Ministry of the Attorney General, 1994) and concluded: “The so-called ‘War on Drugs’ which is conducted by the Justice System can only be regarded as an expensive failure” (vi).

56 See Young, Margot, “Insite: Site and sight,” Constitutional Forum 19, no. 3 (2011): 8791.

57 The College of Pharmacists of British Columbia has established a detailed set of guidelines for pharmacists who dispense methadone. See Professional Practice Policy #66: Policy Guide, Methadone Maintenance Treatment (2013), revised May 13, 2019, http://library.bcpharmacists.org/6_Resources/6-2_PPP/1029-PPP66_Policy_Guide_MMT.pdf. On access to methadone in Vancouver, see Jesse Proudfoot, “The Anxious Enjoyment of Poverty: Drug addiction, panhandling, and the spaces of psychoanalysis” (PhD diss., Simon Fraser University, 2011), 114–143, http://summit.sfu.ca/item/11256.

58 See Omnicare Pharmacy, supra note 13, paras 19–33, for a chronology of bylaw amendments.

59 Ibid., para 40.

60 Omnicare Pharmacy Ltd v The Owners, Strata Plan 2854 (Vancouver, S-164895), Response to Petition, 6 July 2016.

61 Omnicare Pharmacy Ltd v The Owners, Strata Plan 2854 (Vancouver, S-164895), Respondent’s Written Submissions, 18 November 2016, para 36. The BCSC reviewed the evidence of the residents in Omnicare Pharmacy, supra note 13, paras 50–66.

62 SPA, supra note 1, s 128(1).

63 Ibid., s 128(1)(c).

64 Omnicare Pharmacy, supra note 13, paras 102–103.

65 Ibid., para 117.

66 Ibid., para 116.

67 Ibid., para 151. Under the SPA, supra note 1, s 164, a determination that the actions of a strata corporation or strata council are significantly unfair enable a court to make an order to remedy the unfairness.

68 Ibid., para 131.

69 Ibid., para 129.

70 Ibid., para 164.

71 See Ley, “One Hundred Years,” supra note 10, 172–204; Smith, “Where Worlds Collide,” supra note 11.

72 Jordan Stanger-Ross and Landscapes of Injustice Research Collective, “Suspect Properties: The Vancouver origins of the forced sale of Japanese-Canadian-owned property, WWII,” Journal of Planning History 15, no. 4 (2016): 271–289; Eric Adams and Jordan Stanger-Ross, “Promises of Law: The unlawful dispossession of Japanese Canadian,” Osgoode Hall Law Journal 54, no. 3 (2016): 687–739.

73 David Ley, The New Middle Class, supra note 12.

74 See Knight, Rolf, Along the No. 20 Line: Reminiscences of the Vancouver waterfront (Vancouver: New Star Books, 2011) for a personal account of the changing neighbourhood.

75 See Ley, “One Hundred Years,” supra note 10, 189–191. See also Liu, Sikee and Blomley, Nicholas, “Making News and Making Space: Framing Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside,” The Canadian Geographer 57, no. 2 (2013): 119132, for an analysis of media representations.

76 Blomley, “Gentrification Frontier,” supra note 11.

77 Ley, “One Hundred Years,” supra note 10.

78 See Olds, Kris, “Urban Mega-Events, Evictions and Housing Rights: The Canadian Case,” Current Issues in Tourism 1, no. 1 (1998): 617.

79 See Punter, John, The Vancouver Achievement: Urban Planning and Design (Vancouver: UBC Press, 2003). Peck, Jamie, Siemiatycki, Elliot, and Wyly, Elvin, “Vancouver’s Suburban Involution,” City 18, nos. 4–5 (2014): 386415, provide a more critical analysis.

80 See the account from a former co-director of planning in Larry Beasley, Vancouverism (Vancouver: UBC Press, 2019).

81 Harris, “Condominium and the City,” supra note 15.

82 Lehrer and Thorben, “Condominium Development,” supra note 12.

83 Rosen and Walks, “Condo-ism,” supra note 12, 290.

84 Lippert, Condo Conquest, supra note 27, 9.

85 Ley, David and Dobson, Cory, “Are There Limits to Gentrification? The Contexts of Impeded Gentrification in Vancouver,” Urban Studies 45, no. 12 (2008): 2471–98.

86 See Jean Swanson, Lama Mugabo, and King-Mong Chan, Crisis: Rents and the rate of change in the Downtown Eastside, (Carnegie Community Action Project, 2017 Hotel Survey and Housing Report, March 2018) http://www.carnegieaction.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/03/CCAP-2017-Hotel-Report-1.pdf.

87 Carnegie Community Action Project, We Are Too Poor to Afford Anything: Retail gentrification mapping report (Carnegie Community Centre Association, February 2017), 5, http://www.carnegieaction.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/02/CED-REPORT-PRINT.pdf. See also Katherine Burnett, “Commodifying poverty: Gentrification and consumption in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside,” Urban Geography 35, no. 2 (2014): 157–176.

88 Richard Marquez, Beth Malena, Stanislav Kupferschmidt, and Dave Diewert, Zones of Exclusion (Downtown Eastside Neighbourhood Council Action Committee, nd), 3. The study documents how some condominium developments and retail businesses trade on the notion that they occupy an urban frontier in their promotional material.

89 See Blomley, Unsettling the City, supra note 10, 39–46.

90 Smith, “Where Worlds Collide,” supra note 11, 289–98.

91 Ibid., 291.

92 Smith, Neil, The Urban Frontier: Gentrification and the revanchist city (New York: Routledge, 1996), 187.

93 Cohen, Morris, “Property and Sovereignty,” Cornell Law Quarterly 13, no. 1 (1927): 830.

94 See note 2.

95 Alexander, “Publicness,” supra note 23.

96 Syndicat Northcrest v Amselem, 2004 SCC 47 [Amselem].

97 Charter of Human Rights and Freedoms, RSQ c C-12, s 3.

98 Amselem, supra note 96, para 1.

99 Ibid., para 87.

100 Ibid., para 183.

101 Ibid., para 208.

102 Charter of Rights and Freedoms, Part 1 of the Constitution Act, 1982, being Schedule B to the Canada Act 1982 (UK), 1982, c 11, s 32.

103 Condominium Plan No 931 0520 v Smith, 1999 ABQB 340, para 5; Reid v Strata Plan LMS 2503, 2007 BCSC 1396, paras 38–39; Condominium Plan No. 9910225 v Davis, 2013 ABQB 49, para 9; Strata Plan NW 499 v Kirk, 2015 BCSC 1487, paras 143–166, affirmed on appeal The Owners, Strata Plan NW 499 v Louis, 2016 BCCA 494, paras 18–38.

104 McKinney v University of Guelph, [1990] 3 SCR 229, 266.

105 Godbout v Longueuil (City), [1997] 3 SCR 844.

106 For examples from three Canadian jurisdictions, see Jiwan Dhillon & Co Inc v Gosal, 2010 BCCA 324, para 17; Condominium Plan No 822 2909 v 837023 Alberta Ltd, 2010 ABQB 111, paras 54, 76; and Peel Condominium Corporation No 108 v Young, 2011 ONSC 1786, paras 21–27.

107 Shaw Cablesystems v Concord Pacific Group et al., 2007 BCSC 1711, para 10.

108 Owners Corporation PS 50139P v Balcombe [2016] VSC 384.

* I thank Vivienne Stewart for providing access to material from the Omnicare Pharmacy litigation, Eric Leinberger for drawing the maps, Curtis Chance for research assistance, and Erez Aloni, Nicholas Blomley, Cole Harris, Hoi Kong, David Ley, Eric Reiter, Graham Reynolds, Sara Ross, and three anonymous reviewers for comments on earlier drafts.

Keywords

Condominium Government and the Right to Live in the City

  • Douglas C. Harris (a1)

Metrics

Altmetric attention score

Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between <date>. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

Usage data cannot currently be displayed