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Northland's condo fees increasingConcerns that Northlands residents won't get their fees paid on time to vote in the upcoming AGM
Northern News Services
Published Friday, December 23, 2011
The monthly condo fees are going up on Jan. 1 to $220 from $200. According to regulations, all members have to have paid all of their condo fees 30 days before a meeting in order to vote. The Yellowknife Condo Corporation No. 8 (Yk Condo 8) that oversees all activities in the trailer park is holding its AGM on Feb. 7. This gives people very little time to get to A+ Accounting by Jan. 6 to pay their bills or update the amount of their automatic withdrawal, said Cheryl Fountain, vice-chair of the Citizens for Northland group.
Fountain only found out about the increase in condo fees on Dec. 20 although Yk Condo 8 president Wade Friesen said that all residents were informed of the increase in September's quarterly newsletter.
Further complicating the issue is that A+ Accounting offices have moved recently from the Extra Foods building to the Gogo Cho building that also houses the Stanton Eye Clinic.
"It's ridiculous," said Fountain. "We've already had problems in the past because condo fees keep changing. Some people may be six cents in arrears and they're not allowed to vote."
Fountain doesn't disagree with the increase in rates, only the lack of communication over how it's being implemented.
"They need to be higher, but if you put them too high, people won't pay because people don't think anything is being done," she said, referring to the fact that most of the money collected in condo fees is going into fixing the park's infrastructure rather than into maintaining the homes on the property.
It is especially important to enable as many Northland residents as possible to vote in general meetings because some pretty big decisions are coming down the pipe in the coming months, Fountain said. Aside from passing the annual budget and electing new members to the condo board, the meeting will discuss Northland's current crisis over how to fix its aging infrastructure.
As Yellowknifer has previously reported, the sewage and water lines have needed to be replaced for the past 15 years and are beginning to fall apart. The problem will cost about $18 million to fix, and the Yk Condo 8 does not have money set aside for the project.
Because of poor living conditions, the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) stopped insuring mortgages in 2008, making it nearly impossible for residents to sell their homes and some residents have been unable to borrow against the equity of their property, Fountain said.
The City of Yellowknife has recently become involved to help with the problem, and have until the end of January to present a plan on how to deal with Northland's infrastructure issues.
"In the meantime, we are continuing to pursue funding through the GNWT and through the federal government," said Mayor Gord Van Tighem. "As far as someone giving us an interest-free loan, certainly that's something exciting to look at but there is a cost of having and providing money."
However, Fountain says Northland residents are willing to pay back in full any loan they get.
"I really appreciate the city's help and I believe that the condo board does, too," she said. "Now we're hoping for the GNWT to get on board, too. And it's not like we're asking for a hand-out, we are totally willing to pay it all back. We just need somebody to put up the money right away so we can start this project. People who can't afford it can sell their homes and get out, and people who want new homes can access new homes that are affordable."
Other than help getting the water and sewer pipes up to date, the Yk Condo 8 is asking for the city to take over responsibility for the infrastructure, said Friesen.
"The precedent has been set in Forest Park (and) in Trail's End," he said. "So, they've done it previously so it's not too far-fetched to request and there seems to be a fair bit of political support to follow through with that."