NNSL Photo/Graphic


Home page text size buttonsbigger textsmall textText size Email this articleE-mail this page

Northland's condo fees increasing
Concerns that Northlands residents won't get their fees paid on time to vote in the upcoming AGM

Laura Busch
Northern News Services
Published Friday, December 23, 2011

While a scheduled increase in condo fees in the Northland Trailer Park is needed to help replace the park's infrastructure issues, concerns have been raised over whether this increase was announced properly - especially since not paying their full bill will make residents unable to vote in an upcoming annual general meeting (AGM).

Happy Holidays from NNSL

Cheryl Fountain, vice-chair of the Citizens for Northland group, stands in front of the trailer park's sign Wednesday. With condo fees increasing by $20 on Jan. 1, Fountain is concerned that residents will not be able to change their payment on time, and as a result will have their voting privileges revoked for Yellowknife Condo Corporation No. 8's Feb. 7 annual general meeting. - Laura Busch/NNSL photo

How Northland became a condo corporation

Because Northland Trailer Park is on private land and governed by a condominium corporation, it is the responsibility of the owners of the 258 units in the park to maintain, repair and replace all roads, sewers and water lines.

Documents posted on Yk Condo 8's website explain how Northland became a condo corporation in the first place. In 1988 the park's new owners, Alberta-based Triple E Investments, sent out a letter to all residents asking them to sign a form stating that they like the option of "leasing or owning" the property they lived on.

A further letter sent out in Feb. 1989 informed residents that "by setting up a condominium corporation those who wish to participate in land ownership and the management of the overall property may buy their lot - at the same time those who wish to continue to lease will be welcome and this change will in no way effect present or future rents."

This last letter satisfied the city condo policy requirement that all tenants must approve the switch and the condominium corporation was born.

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."

E-mailWe welcome your opinions. Click here to e-mail a letter to the editor.