June 5, 2017

By: Laura Coulter, RCM – Property Manager, Hamilton
From the WB Condo Connection, Volume 8, Issue 4

‘Long may it wave, and grace our own
Blue skies and stormy weather,
Within my heart, above my home,
The Maple Leaf forever!’

From: ‘The Maple Leaf Forever’, by Alexander Muir, 1867
As we approach the momentous occasion of Canada’s 150th birthday, many condo owners are beginning the conversation on how to celebrate. Directors have discussed red and white garden plantings, social events and the classic homage of the waving Canadian flag. This discussion circles to the question of “what do our existing rules implicate?” and, “do they impede our right to celebrate?” Frequently we see language contained in the Rules and Regulations stating: ‘no owner shall hang or display articles from their balcony’ or ‘no owner shall erect signs or advertisements in their exclusive use areas.’ Given the circumstances, to not clarify the rules may create the feeling of interference with patriotism and the right to display our ‘Canadiana’ as we see fit. So, what is a Board to do?
Firstly, legislation outside of the condo world should be consulted. The National Flag of Canada Act provides that: ‘All Canadians are encouraged to proudly display the National Flag of Canada in accordance with flag protocol’ (s. 2(1)); and, ‘Every person who is in control of an apartment building, a condominium building or building in divided co-ownership or another multiple-residence building or a gated community is encouraged to allow the National Flag of Canada to be displayed in accordance with flag protocol.’ (s. 2(2)).
Specifics on flag protocol can be found on the Government of Canada’s website under Culture, History & Sport (www.canada.ca/en/services/culture).
Back in the Condominium Act, 1998, we see that under Section 58(2): The rules shall be reasonable and consistent with this Act, the declaration and the by-laws.
Owners may feel that given the circumstances, prohibiting the display of a Canadian flag may not be reasonable. So to not curtail an owner’s wish to participate in Canada Day, the Board may adopt a new rule in order to clarify their existing rule. They may also wish to enact certain parameters around displays and events.
Some suggestions may be:

  • stating an acceptable timeframe an owner can have their display up
  • restrictions on size and location of the display
  • clarifying that flags or signs may be hung from inside the unit, but not on the exterior
  • ensuring that owners are not drilling or nailing into the common element façade
  • ensuring all hanging flags are securely fastened using a specific method
  • clarification as to when the rule is applicable e.g: to only the 150th anniversary, or Canada Day annually?

Implementing these rules will ensure that the Corporation does not contravene any legislation and allows the Directors to ensure that the building or site is decorated with pride and some added discretion. But is this just the tip of the Newfoundland iceberg?
One Director has already added to the discussion, asking, “But what about St. Patrick’s Day? As a good Irish ex-pat, can I proudly hang the flag of Ireland?”
Boards may be wise to not only discuss Canada Day, but also at least take into consideration other requests that may follow. The generality (all flags and national displays) or specificity (only the Canadian flag) of the Rule should be geared toward the present and future owners. Part of the beauty of Canada is our diversity and inclusivity to all nations. Boards may be wise to properly explore and understand the neighbourhood demographic, and take this into account as part of the process. Legal consultation on this matter is always advisable.
As our anthem so proudly declares “The True North strong and free”. Yes, free even to display our nation’s pride in our home – with a little discretion that is!

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