Condominium and Industry Profiles

December, 29 2022 Published by Toronto and Area Chapter - By James Russell

2022 Condo of the Year Award Winner

From the Winter 2022 issue of CCI Toronto Condovoice Magazine, Volume 27, Issue Number 2.

eCondo Sets a Gold Standard In the Heart of Downtown Toronto

Standing at the intersection of Yonge and Eglinton with its traffic chaos, scurrying pedestrians and seemingly decades-long construction turmoil, one wouldn’t realise that the tower on the north-east corner soars not only 196 metres toward the heavens but that eCondo’s board has set the gold standard for superior governance.

The farming village of Eglinton, now known throughout Canada as Yonge and Eglinton once held the distinction of being one of Canada’s largest cattle grazing regions. But in addition to the presence of slow moving bovines placidly chewing their cuds, the Yonge and Eglinton neighbourhood was also the site of the 1837 Battle of Montgomery’s Tavern, a violent affair led by Willam Lyon MacKenzie that was eventually crushed by British soldiers and units of the Canadian militia.

These days the only sound of gunshots and cannons are from the discordant din of pneumatic tools and hammering rising from the ditch that will eventually become the Eglinton station of the Cross Town LRT.

Completed just three years ago, eCondo an ivory-white and steel-gray towers strike a majestic profile amidst the monoliths that populate Yonge and Eglinton. The residents occupying eCondo’s 646 units have available to them an impressive array of amenities, including their indoor eInfinity pool, state-of-the-art gym, bike storage, media room, BBQs, four luxurious guest suites, recreation room, party lounges, yoga studio, dining rooms with full kitchens and a roof-top deck that offers a spectacular, panoramic view of not only Toronto but, on a clear day, the milky-white mist billowing from Niagara Falls.

 

Left to Right: Samer Alameddine, Treasurer;
Yasmin Khalegi, Secretary; Wiliam Choi, President

 

“We have a lot of young professionals and young families in our building,” says Yasmin Khalegi, the Board’s Secretary. And a lot of caring residents like the good souls who came together spontaneously to form ‘The Assistance Group’ in order to help housebound residents with their grocery shopping, pet walking and picking up prescriptions during the pandemic. In a building where approximately 75% of the units are rental, that speaks well of the sense of community the Board has fostered.

Above, Back Row Left to Right: Jasmine Kaur, Ziad
Mokhalalati, Assistant Property Manager;
Paris Sajedi, Regional Director; Lemlem Benie,
Housekeeper; Mariana Hritac, Sr. Property
Manager; Jeff Webb, FSR Vice-President; George
Kapasouris, Superintendent; Ariel Rosal; Assistant
Superintendent


Above, Seated Left to Right: Wiliam Choi,
President; Yasmin Khalegi, Secretary; Samer
Alameddine, Treasurer

Left to Right: Farzad Lahouti,MBA, CCI;
Samer Alameddine, Treasurer; Yasmin Khalegi,
Secretary; Murray Johnson, OLCM, CCI (Hons), CCI;
William Choi, President; Warren Kleiner, BA., LL.B,
CCI; Lisa Kay, BA Econ, CCI

“We value our community so much and even though we are a young building, a massive building with so many units it’s so unbelievable how this sense of com munity is present in our building where everyone is so respectful of each other, where everyone is always rushing to help each other. It’s one of the strengths of our building for which we really are so grateful,” adds Yasmin.

The robustness of eCondo’s fiscal and community health can be directly attributed to the devotion, work ethic and competence of its three member Board currently consisting of William Choi, President and a Board member since turnover; the Board’s newest member, Yasmin Khalegi, Secretary; and Samer Alameddine, Treasurer.

Much of the Board’s success lies in the communication established with the management team, including providing Board members with written management reports at least three days before meetings to allow the directors to fully prepare for effective meetings. The Board also makes good use of weekly 5/15 reports, an effective management tool which takes management 15 minutes to prepare and takes the directors 5 minutes to read to get up to date with operations and events of the week.

Management team:

  • Creates and posts two weekly ‘Know Your Condo’ newsletters that educates on such issues as fan coil filter changes, leaky faucets, rules reminders, and tips for condo living
  • Posts weekly notices each Friday  provide update information about current and upcoming projects, events and general interest matters
  • Employs eBlasts and eCondo’s website to share information
  • The Board:
  • Employs e-platforms such as WhatsApp to communicate with residents
  • Provides residents with regular community surveys
  • Holds regular Information Meetings and Town Halls

Given eCondo’s high percentage of rental units, the Board has initiated education sessions in the hope that informed and educated renters will be more vested in eCondo as a building and community. For owners, the Board hosts information sessions with industry experts in such fields as reserve fund contributions, budgets, insurance, and maintenance fees.

Ever cognizant of the larger Yonge and Eglinton neighbourhood, “When it comes to community relationships, that is actually something we are working on right now, to see if there are any synergies that can be formed,” says Samer.

The Board of eCondo expects, and receives, the same level of professionalism and efficiency from their four member management team provided by FirstService Residential that they expect of themselves and it is for that reason, from the very outset, the Board has laid down a set  of priorities for management that include:

  • Fee collection
  • Investigate reserve fund investment
  • Identify building deficiencies
  • Sign contracts for various maintenance services
  • Maintain curb appearance of the Building
  • Payment of invoices in a timely manner
  • Develop strong relationships with contractors
  • Identify steps for community building
  • and, in the Board’s words, “Communicate! Communicate! Communicate!”

eCondo’s concierge, or their ‘Gatekeepers’ as the Board refers to their member team of professionals, as well as their cleaning staff, is provided by quality companies: VP Protection and FirstService Services.

The Board recently hired an additional management expert whose focus is in continuing to raise the bar in community service, assisting in expeditious major project completion, and serving as eCon do ambassador, educating the team and residents about the corporation’s rules, policies, and established processes.

As with any new corporation, the first few years presented a multitude of priorities for the new Board, one of the first being their front-line staff, the other being building a strong eCondo Team. The Board and management worked to ensure that their concierges, the first and last points of contact when residents and visitors enter and exit the building, were not only reliable but caring, loyal and most of all, excelled at customer service, all essential prerequisites for creating an environment where residents feel comfortable, valued, and most of all, at home.

 

Left to Right: Samer Alameddine, Treasurer;
Claudia Damaren, RCM; Yasmin Khalegi, Secretary;
William Choi, President

 

The Board, management, and Elia Associates, the corporation’s legal team worked together to put in place a comprehensive set of rules - an essential instrument that governs such items as shortterm rentals, pets, holiday decorations, use of amenities and, because noise complaints are frequent in any condominium  building, mandated ‘quiet hours’. Shortly after the developer, turned over the building, mechanical deficiencies raised their ugly heads in the way of elevator failures, an inconsistent hot water supply, flooding in some common element areas, and whistling balcony panels which, not surprisingly, lacked a pleasing tonal quality.

Metropia, the developer, proud of their creation, stepped up to assist in reducing the frequency of elevator failures, corrected the plumbing issues, and quieted the balcony panels with the help of their engineers.

These were major annoyances for sure, but as consultant Claudia Damaren, RCM points out, “with every brand new building there are challenges in working together to make sure that the building is passed on properly from the developer, and that all the deficient items are addressed.” Claudia, an eCondo past condominium manager, and current consultant, goes on to add, “The board has engaged me to assist with the transition, with completing some of the  major projects and training the current staff to continue the vision for this corporation.”

William, the Board’s president, says with pride, “Many of these challenges are turning into our strengths because we have emphasized our weak points in terms of what those challenges were and worked continuously to improve. We pride ourselves in the ability to be agile, to be responsive. What we’ve learned as a team is to work even closer together and to bring out the best possible outcome based on our best efforts.”

The Board’s fiscal successes include:

  • Applying for and receiving an energy rebate which resulted in a 31.81% reduction on their base invoice.
  • Re-tendering the mortgage on eCondo’s four guest suites thereby reducing the interest on their payments from 6.45% to 2.89%, resulting in savings of nearly forty-five thousand dollars.
  • Negotiating with their service providers to offer residents a greater range of choices and reduce eCondo’s operating expenses.

Now three years old, the Board finally has the breathing room to address the community- building, security and administrative items that were further down their ‘to-do list’. Those include:

  • The installation of LCD monitors in their elevators and lobby to improve communication
  • Holding many more owner and resident events.
  • Special events for pets as the building has a large number of four-legged residents.
  • Improving the building’s security by adding additional cameras to the existing system
  • and addressing the remaining deficiencies identified in the performance audit, which involves working with the developer and Tarion.

The first thing a visitor to eCondo notices, beside their impressively designed and pristine lobby, is the building’s seamless operation. Concierge staff respond to questions with gentle smiles, cleaning staff glide about arresting intrusive LRT construction dust and dirt, and neighbours hold open doors for their neighbours. All evidence of a well-governed condominium corporation, one worthy of accolades and admiration.

“We aim to be the point of reference for all corporations in building the modern community living of today.” says William who adds, “it is a great honour to have been presented with the Condo of the Year Award. It’s something that we are very proud of.

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