Looking Back, Looking Forward; Six years of the Condominium Authority of Ontario
From the Volume 17, Fall 2023 issue of the CCI GHC Condo News Magazine
The CAO celebrated its sixth anniversary on Sept. 1 of this year - and what a thrilling journey it’s been!
When I became CAO’s first employee, I could have never imagined the immensely rewarding experiences that awaited me as I saw a fledgling organization grow into an Ontario consumer protection staple. Six years later, our growing team is as poised as ever to take on new and lasting challenges so we can create strong and vibrant condo communities.
In the early days, our focus was simply creating the basic framework for delivering on our mandate of information, education, and dispute resolution. We opened our doors and launched our first website within days of being designated – thereby taking the first steps toward providing essential and easily accessible condo living information.
Two months after that, on Nov. 1, we launched our mandatory director training and could now proudly boast about providing education to thousands of condo board directors across the province – another way to enhance consumer protection and support to the sector.
On that same day, we launched the Condominium Authority Tribunal – Ontario’s first fully online tribunal – to help resolve common condo living issues and disputes conveniently, quickly and affordably. The CAT’s jurisdiction was first limited to condo records disputes, but quickly expanded to encapsulate most common nuisances like noise, pets, odour, etc. Within a year of its inception, the CAT was recognized by the Institute of Public Administration of Canada and earned a gold award in Innovative Management for delivering ground-breaking solutions in an agile and cost-effective way.
Fast forward to six years later. Earlier this summer, we improved our information offering to the condo sector with the launch of the third iteration of our website, which features more content than the first and presents it in a more intuitive and user-friendly way than the second. We were proud to be recognized last month for our continued efforts with another award, this time for Web Excellence.
We also continue to focus on education. Last year we expanded CAO’s advanced director training – with four hours of scenario-based modules flanked by six in-depth guides on important topics like finance, governance, issues management and more. This summer we polled the sector on what they would like to see next on director training. Over 65 per cent of respondents told us they want to see our optional advanced training become mandatory.
We will have more to announce on this in the coming months!
Dispute resolution remains central to our mandate. We recently reached a noteworthy milestone as the tribunal, led by Chair, Ian Darling, accepted its 1,000th CAT case. At any given time, there are over 100 cases in progress at the CAT. Most are about records and noise, but some also deal with more serious issues like harassment. As of this writing, the CAT has resolved 919 tribunal cases, two-thirds of which were resolved by negotiation among parties or mediation with a CAT member.
Of course, none of this journey was seamless. There were growing pains, a global pandemic, as well as a thorough audit by Ontario’s Auditor General. We chose to look at each of these challenges as opportunities to improve our services, learn and become nimbler. The 2020 Condominium Oversight Audit by the Auditor General, for example, pointed to a number of improvements that CAO could undertake, mostly in how we collect feedback from condo communities and share this data with other consumer protection bodies. We worked diligently and collaboratively with the Auditor General, the Ministry of Public and Business Services, and other stakeholders and were pleased to report 100 per cent implementation of the Auditor General’s recommendations led by CAO by October 2022.
Our eyes are on the future as we move forward and look for opportunities to improve and evolve in the years to come. The CAO’s Board of Directors is undergoing a comprehensive strategic planning exercise this fall that will set the course for the organization for the next several years and will look to further leverage technology innovations in order to continue to meet the condo sector’s most pressing needs. I look forward to seeing what lies ahead in CAO’s exciting next chapter!
Condo community members who want to learn more should read our Annual Report.
Do you have feedback on the CAO? Tell us by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org
Robin Dafoe is the CEO & Registrar of the Condominium Authority of Ontario. She was CAO’s first employee and launched it and the CMRAO as Executive Director and Registrar for both.
Previously, Robin worked in the Ontario Public Service, EQAO and Ontario Heritage Trust in a variety of senior management positions.
Robin has a Master of Laws from Osgoode Hall Law School, a Master of Business Administration from Schulich School of Business.
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