Condo Living

October 19, 2017 Published by Toronto and Area Chapter - By James Russell

A Landmark of Excellence

From the Fall 2017 issue of the CCI Toronto Condovoice Magazine.

The Condominium Act, 1998, Amending O. Reg. 48/01, section 11.7(4) of the Training Courses Required section states:

"For the purpose of clause 29 (2) (e) of the Act, a person shall complete the training courses within six months of the earlier of the day that the person is elected or appointed to the board."

The Board of Landmark III is waaaaaay ahead of the curve.

Ink on the draft amendments to the Condominium Act had barely dried back in 2015 when the Board of Landmark III directed its members to complete, not only the courses mandated by the Condominium Act, but CCI's three-tier condominium education syllabus as well.

CCI's Condo Governance course covers all the information directors need to ensure a well functioning board, including, the principals of governance, director's responsibilities, the director/ manager relationship, long-term planning, and key communication practices.

The Condo Operations course – covers insurance, financial administration, mechanical and electrical systems, maintenance strategies, the roles of professionals, and other operational issues.

The Advanced Condo Practices course covers reserve funds, financial management, people issues and a mediation/ arbitration case study discussion session.

"We knew the new Act was coming so we decided to get a head start," says the Board's Director at Large, Stephen Pollishuke of CCI's three courses, each a crucial primer for the Mandatory courses decreed by the Condominium Act. The Board's former Vice-President, resident, and former Board member Carolyn Rosenblatt points out, "The more knowledge, the better."

Built in 1990, the twelve storey, 268 suite Landmark III sits on twenty-four acres located at 7905 Bayview Avenue in Thornhill. The suites range in size from 1300 to 4200 sq. ft. "All the suites are very spacious," mentions original resident Hannes Broschek as just one of the reasons he and his wife chose Landmark III. Back then Broschek's three bedroom, 2,100 square ft. suite cost the Broscheks in the neighbourhood of $500K. Today, sales of comparable suites in Landmark III are edging toward the million dollar mark.

However, it is not just the generous suite sizes that attract buyers to Landmark III and keeps current owners from jumping ship, "It's really like home. We love every moment of living here,' says Ahuva Simone, the Board's Vice-President.

In addition to a full slate of amenities, Landmark III has a fully equipped movie theatre, state-of-the-art security system, and five acres of grounds maintained to such perfection that their landscaping company received the Landscape Ontario Horticultural Trades Association's Award of Excellence.

Landmark III's very active Social Committee organizes:

  • BBQs
  • Movie nights
  • Card games
  • Book reviews
  • Exercise classes
  • Lectures on subjects such as safety, insurance, and financial advisors
  • A Breakfast club
  • Aquatic exercise classes, and
  • Recreational bus trips

In addition to their annual summer BBQ and December holiday gathering, they also hold special religious displays for celebrating and educating residents.

As a testament to the value the Board places on good governance, transparency and effective fiscal management, the board has proudly mounted their fourteen CCI certificates of completion on the south wall of the management office. All five of Landmark III's Board members have completed their Condo Operations and Advanced Condo Practices courses and four have completed their Condo Governance courses. The Board members found the classes invaluable although, "I learned the most from the Advanced Condo Practices course," says Bernie Betel, one of Landmark III's original owners, a member of the board for the past twenty-six years, and their current President.

In addition to Bernie, Ahuva and Stephen, Landmark III's Board includes Sami Hamam, Treasurer; and Farzad Lahouti, Secretary.

Although the Board's commitment to continuing education and good governance is largely responsible for Landmark III's success, it is the building's awesome residents - active and engaged in the social affairs of the building - who are the key to that success. The building's many committees and social activities are well attended. Even their yearly AGM must be held in the nearby community centre because Landmark III's spacious party room cannot accommodate the crowd.

Key Communication Practices was one of the topics covered in their Condo Governance course, but Landmark III's Board had long ago put in place a myriad of communication channels. In addition to the regular Board Updates, the Board also prepares frequent Information Briefs, which focus on condominium topics. Monthly Board Meeting Minutes are posted on Landmark III's website and notice boards located in the mailroom. Management and committees also make good use of the notice boards and website.

"Alex is a blessing," says Ahuva. "He treats the building as if it is his own," adds Stephen. Ahuva and Stephen are referring to Alexander Vainshtein, R.C.M., Landmark III's property manager since 2015.

"The people, the community is very good. They get along well with each other. The residents are very respectful to the building staff including management." Alex, who has a civil engineering and computer background, has made a career of property management for the past sixteen years and worked with quite a few boards. What he likes about Landmark III's Board is, "The members have different background. They bring their expertise and contribute a lot of hours and effort into this volunteer job. They go above and beyond their duties."

Because the Board not only recognises its responsibility to the residents but to Mother Earth, Landmark III's Board has embarked on several 'Green Projects' - including:

  • Installation of LED lighting in all their common areas
  • Installation of Variable Frequency Drive (VFD) motors in the air handling units and cooling tower
  • Installation of a new Adaptive Frequency Drive upgrade for the building's chiller
  • Will be upgrading all three elevators with energy efficient motors and lighting

The LED retrofit, which will result in an estimated $60,000 hydro bill reduction per year and the VFD replacement work, expected to result in a yearly savings of $30,557 and a 2.8 year payback period, earned Landmark III three Certificates of Achievement from Power Stream (now Alectra Utilities), with a fourth Certificate expected to follow soon on the chiller AVD.

Other projects undertaken by the Board include: a garage ramp repair; the complete refurbishment of the hallways including removing the wall paper and stucco and painting unit doors; installation of a new security desk, and, "We are looking into video displays when we modernize our elevators this year," says Stephen.

"Of course, all capital projects impact the budget significantly, so the Board reviews the reserve fund and finances on a regular basis to ensure they have sufficient funds on hand to address their operational and major reserve fund projects," says Treasurer Sami Hamam. During the year decisions are carefully considered, and the financial statements are analysed monthly to ensure that they stay within the approved budget. The Board is proud that, as a result of their due diligence, the increase in this year's budget was a mere 1.6% over the previous year's, an achievement whose success had its roots with the Board's and Management's careful and thorough budget preparation.

It would be easy to attribute Landmark III's success to their active and caring residents, the building's pastoral location and grounds, or the generous square footage of their suites but that would undervalue the importance of the Board's commitment to fiscal responsibility, transparency, communication, and of course, continuing education.

"A lot of what we learned (from the CCI classes) we already did," says Ahuva, to which Sami adds, "But the CCI courses affirmed our knowledge and gave us added confidence." Benjamin Franklin would agree, after all, it was that oddly dressed, kite flyer who once said, "An investment in knowledge pays the best interest."


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