White Rock resident Joanna Skorulski has a question for the city – particularly for residents of strata-managed condominium buildings.
“Do we hate children in White Rock?” wonders Skorulski, who has lived in the city since 1994.
Skorulski contacted Peace Arch News, not to put her personal story at the forefront, but to shed light on a wider issue that she is finding throughout the city: age-restriction strata bylaws.
Skorulski is searching for a new home in White Rock that will allow her to move in with her 14-year-old child.
However, she said, the majority of condos for sale are in buildings with age-restriction strata bylaws.
Her current condo has a 55-plus age restriction bylaw. She’s only allowed to remain in the building because she was living there prior to the bylaw coming into effect.
She said age restrictions are “all over the map,” including a 19-plus restriction, which seems to specifically target children.
“What kind of message is that?” she said.
She compared it to a hypothetical strata bylaw that would prohibit people from purchasing a condo based on race or sexual orientation.
“There would be outrage,” she said. “But you can say you’re not allowed to move in if you have a child. How is that still acceptable?”
She noted that White Rock has a “beautiful” elementary school and a high school across North Bluff Road, but the cost of a detached home is, generally, out of the price range of a single-parent family.
“I’m shopping in my price range and I don’t have any choices. I would like to see that change,” she said.
Vancouver-based strata lawyer Paul Mendes said age-restriction strata bylaws are “quite common” in White Rock.
“I guess White Rock is where people like to retire,” Mendes said.
“Contrary to popular belief,” he said, the bylaw is valid.
“I’m basically paraphrasing here… If an act allows you to do something that might otherwise be contrary to the Human Rights Code, then you can still do it. So the Strata Property Act allows strata corporations to have age registrations, therefor the protection in the Human Rights Code does not apply,” he said.
Mendes said when he’s hired to work on bylaw amendments, he tries to discourage his clients from incorporating age-restriction bylaws because they depress the price of a unit.
“If you eliminate first-time buyers and families, you are really eliminating a very large sector of the market,” he said.
“You see many buildings where they say they don’t care about adults, they just don’t want children. You see a lot of those.”
Prior to 2009, Mendes said, stratas were only allowed to implement a 55-plus age restriction, while new developments tend not to have age any restrictions.
“For (Skorulski), that’s not going to be much comfort, because newer developments tend to be more expensive.”
Mendes said he sympathized with Skorulski, and wishes he could come up with a solution for people who are in her situation.
“Apart from lobbying the government to make this change, there’s not a lot that can be done. The governments, you know, generally when they do amendments to the strata property act, it’s mostly to help developers and not necessarily to help owners, despite what they might say in their (public relations). Their main concern is assisting developers, because developers write large donation cheques to politicians and generate jobs.”
A representative with the City of White Rock told PAN that, to the city’s knowledge, “there is no express authority for a municipality to restrict stratas from applying age restrictions within the framework allowed by the Strata Property Act.”
The city referred PAN to the Provincial Housing Policy Branch at the Office of Housing and Construction Standards, which has not yet responded to request for comment.