Much has been written recently on the growing number of families choosing to put down roots in condominium communities. Many developers are even beginning to design condominiums with families in mind by including special facilities and playgrounds from the planning stages.
But what do you do as the manager of an established condominium to respond to the needs of this growing demographic?
First find out who has children in the building. This could be done with a survey or by just speaking with owners who have families and getting feedback on what is nice about the corporation and property and what is problematic.
Often times getting feedback directly from people will give direction on what would be the best course of action or steps to take. Setting up a meeting or responding to feedback in a constructive way and giving some outline for what is being considered is important.
Be mindful of managing expectations. Some ideas and suggestions may never be possible because they might contravene a declaration and require 80% approval for the change, which is very challenging in the best circumstances.
Once you have some ideas and feedback to fuel some actions, review the spaces available in the corporation for various types of uses. Maybe there is a portion of the gym that is closed off or not in use frequently. Maybe a scheduled play time could be arranged.
What areas are families and children congregating at naturally?
For any successful extra curricular (extra from the day to day management and Board duties) activity, there needs to be community-minded individuals who are willing to make arrangements and coordinate volunteers.
The events may be weekly, monthly or even annually as a community BBQ with a few games. In either case there needs to be willing individuals to take on the work.
Boards should consider the various ways these events may affect the corporation and note any potential for risk or liability. Determine if there should be a committee formed for this purpose, or if due to the activity and nature of the events, that organization be managed in another way.
We tend to think about adults when ensuring the property is safe. Obvious trip hazards and other concerns are quickly dealt with. Try to view the property from a child’s perspective. This coupled with the feedback from families should help to improve site safety.
Arrange information sessions with the Fire Department, Police Department or other organizations to teach families about safety.
The physical limitations of your Corporation will have a large impact on the overall kid friendliness. However, the decision to accommodate a kid-friendly community and atmosphere is ultimately up to the Board of Directors and volunteers in the community. If your community’s facilities are unable to provide space for children, consider other opportunities to serve your condominium’s smallest residents. For example, is there a traffic jam of families at the elevators before and after school? Perhaps adjustments could be made to the moving elevator’s availability during this time.
Darryl Fulton, RCM, is Division Manager – Condominiums at Goldview Property Management Ltd.