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Ottawa condo residents on the hook for $600k bill to repair aging buildings

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An older condominium complex in Kanata is asking its residents for more than half a million dollars to replace its aging infrastructure.

The five condo buildings on Stratas Court were built in the 1980s on a sloping sedimentary foundation. Crumbling walkways and leaky roofs have put pressure on the local condo board to restore the buildings back to code.

"There's a number of other projects that need to be done - foundation repairs, parging of the bricks, garage doors that need replacement," said resident and condo board treasurer Michael Kirkham.

The complex needs $600,000 for the repairs, though with a near-depleted reserve fund, residents will have to foot the bill. With 40 units in the complex, it comes out to more than $10,000 per household – closer to $20,000 for some of the larger units.

Condo owners were notified of an upcoming special assessment back in September. The $600,000 was announced at end of the year with a deadline to pay by July 1.

Those who do not pay the bill will face a lien on their home.

Some residents on pensions and fixed incomes say the nine months of notice has not been enough time.

"For the first time in almost 80 years, I have a bill I cannot pay," said resident Moira Green at a townhall meeting earlier this year. "Furthermore, we are now living in times where every cent has to be accounted for. I find the recent demand for $16,470 for my condo due June 30 excessive and unreasonable."

"I don't like it, but we have actually have no choice in what we do," said resident and board member Dave Kropla. "The Condominium Act says that you need to keep sufficient money to meet requirements."

Those against the repair fee argue the board should have never let the reserve fund fall to the point where it currently stands.

"These people are spending my pension," Green said on Friday.

Officials at Sentinel Management, the company in charge of the condos, say repair fees of this nature are normally associated with condo ownership.

Vice President Noah Johnston urges potential condo buyers to research what they are signing up for early on.

"Just because you're in a condo, it doesn't mean that you're on a fixed condo fee increase every single month," he said. "There could be unforeseen issues that happen and that's the reality of condo ownership."

Johnston adds that the Stratas Court condos are not an isolated case.

"There's many factors that have made reserve funds underfunded in condos across Ontario and across Canada," he said. "Under the Act, [the Stratas Court board] has to ensure that their reserve fund is adequate and to ensure that they can maintain the building."

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