TORONTO, Nov. 2, 2017 /CNW/ - Condominium communities across the province now have access to new services to support condo living available through the Condominium Authority of Ontario (CAO).
The CAO has launched the Condominium Authority Tribunal (CAT), which is Ontario's first online dispute resolution service, and new mandatory Director Training e-modules that will equip condo directors with the skills and information to run their condo corporation more effectively.
"The new tribunal, a first of its kind, will transform how disputes are resolved in condo communities. By regulation, the tribunal will begin by dealing with records disputes," says Tom Wright, Chair of the CAO. "In addition, the training program will help to equip condo directors with skills and information to assist in the running of the corporation, in addition to resolving problems and fostering a positive community culture."
The new, free training is mandatory for condo directors who are elected or appointed to a board on or after November 1, 2017. Condo directors must complete the training within six months of being elected or appointed, including directors that are re-elected and re-appointed after this date. The training is also available to any condo owner or member of the public at no charge.
"We understand that issues and disputes within condo communities can have a big impact on an owner's enjoyment of their home," says Robin Dafoe, Executive Director of the CAO. She stresses that "the online tribunal and director education being launched today are the initial "beta" versions of these online tools. We want to hear from condo owners and directors to continue to refine these services to meet their needs."
On September 1st, Director Training pilot modules were available on the CAO website. Over 320 people participated in the pilot training with 93% who rated the content as valuable and 94% who indicated that the modules were easy to navigate.
The launch of the CAT is the result of a review of the Condominium Act, 1998, which revealed the need for an easier and more cost-effective method of resolving disputes in condo communities.
Ian Darling, Chair of the CAT says, "The new Condominium Authority Tribunal will provide condo owners and corporations with a fast, fair, and low-cost online dispute resolution service. The three-stage process allows users the option of going as far as they need in order to resolve a dispute."
The first stage, Negotiation, allows users to file their case, and for a fee of $25, they are provided with access to the CAT's online dispute resolution (ODR) system to negotiate in a neutral forum and attempt to resolve the dispute themselves.
If the dispute cannot be resolved at this stage, the users can move to stage two, which is Mediation, for a cost of $50. In this stage, a dedicated CAT mediator will join the case and assist the users in resolving the dispute.
If still unresolved, the dispute moves to the third and final stage, Tribunal Decision, where a dedicated CAT member will conduct a formal adjudication of the dispute for a cost of $125.
Currently, the CAT is accepting cases that relate to disputes regarding records, with more types being added gradually in the future, by government regulation.
To develop the CAT's online dispute resolution (CAT-ODR) system, the CAO partnered with the University of Montreal's Cyberjustice Laboratories. After an extensive review of various software solutions available in North America, the CAO chose to build upon Cyberjustice's PARLe open source platform, which is already helping to resolve disputes online for Quebec consumers.
The CAT-ODR solution has been integrated into the CAO's enterprise technology platform, which also offers the CAO's full suite of online services, including self-help information and tools, condominium registration, and condo director training. This end-to-end, user-focused enterprise technology solution is being delivered on a Microsoft 365 platform by Adoxio Business Solutions.