We all know that most Toronto condominiums don’t allow residents to have a barbecue on their balcony.
But a condo at Queen’s Quay is trying something new and different, which will undoubtedly come with a learning curve…
I’ve owned a variety of condos in my day; different locations, sizes, styles, and locations. But when it comes to the two condos I’ve actually lived in, I’ve always demanded outdoor space.
That’s my own personal bias, and my own personal preference.
My first condo had a 400 square foot terrace where BBQ’s were allowed, and I bought my current condo because it had a gigantic terrace where I could have an even bigger barbecue! The Weber Genesis. What a sexy piece of iron!
But on the flip side, a tiny 4 x 6 slab of concrete, aka a typical condo “balcony,” might not have any practical use for the home-owner whatsoever.
More and more new condo developments are incorporating large rooftop terraces with BBQ’s that can tide over those residents with no outdoor space and no ability to barbecue in their own units, but consider that most condominiums have outlawed barbecuing on balconies altogether.
There are only two situations, typically, where a barbecue is allowed on a condo balcony:
1) If there is a natural gas line running from inside the condo, that allows the owner to set up a barbecue with no propane tank.
2) If the outdoor space is large enough that the barbecue can be 10-feet or more away from the building itself.
The second point, however is one of contention.
When I lived at 230 King Street, the board of directors decided, rather abruptly, to ban barbecues for all residents, specifically taking away the right of eight residents on the 2nd floor who had 440 square foot terraces where barbecues were permitted. The eight of us banded together, fought, and won.
The major reason, in my opinion, why we “beat” the board of directors was quoting two pieces of current legislation:
The Ontario Fire Code, Reg. 213/07 specifically cites The Propane Storage and Handling Code CSA-B149.2-00, which outlines that propane tanks must be stored a minimum of ten feet from all buildings.
Our terraces measured 22 x 20 feet, and the barbecues were placed TWICE as far from the building as was mandated by the Act.
But I know that there are buildings in Toronto where residents both ARE permitted barbecues that are more than 10-feet away from the building, and those that are NOT. Every building is different, and every board of directors (or the original developer via the rules and regulations) are free to deal with barbecues as they see fit.
I believe that as a red-blooded Canadian, barbecuing is just in our nature. We survive long winters, and we have 3-4 months of solid summer weather whereby we can congregate outside, and light up the grill to cook dinner.
Try getting between a Torontonian and their grill, and you’ve got a fight on your hands.
There’s a condominium at 90 Stadium Road that is taking the opposite approach. They’re not banning barbecues as most Toronto condos do, but rather they’re looking to open the door to residents having them!
Years ago, an electric barbecue, or a “hibachi,” was incredibly inferior to anything with propane. But today, there are some fantastic electric barbecues out there, and having one on a condo balcony would eliminate all the problems that propane barbecues cause. I mean, if you can have a giant heat lamp, a radio, or anything else that plugs into an electrical socket, then what’s the problem with an electric barbecue?
Below is the memorandum sent by property management at 90 Stadium Road to all the residents…
To: ALL RESIDENTS.
Summer has arrived at Quay West!!!!!!!!!
The Board of Directors is happy to announce that the Corporation Rules and Regulations are being revised to allow BBQing on balconies and ground floor terraces at Quay West.
ELECTRIC BBQ’s may be used by resident’s on floors 2 through 24 and either electric BBQ’s or PROPANE BBQ’s will also be permitted on the ground level units providing the following requirements:.
BBQing in GENERAL:
-BBQ’S MUST BE IN GOOD CONDITION and EXCELLENT WORKING ORDER
-BBQ’s MUST KEPT CLEAN, WELL MAINTAINED AND RUST FREE.
-DO NOT LEAVE YOUR BBQ UNATTENDED
-Grill areas (both electric and propane) may not exceed a maximum of 530 square inches. Nothing larger will be permitted, and smaller grills are encouraged.
-Gas (except where piped into the common element), charcoal or wood BBQ’s are absolutely not permitted
-RESIDENTS MUST BE RESPECTFUL OF THEIR NEIGHBOURS WHEN GRILLING AS VOICES AND COOKING ODOURS TRAVEL.
-Residents that receive a complaint regarding “disturbing the quiet enjoyment” of other residents in the building will be contacted by property management, and may receive written notice that their BBQ privileges have been revoked.
-The Board, at its sole discretion can request removal of any BBQ
-BBQ’s must be weighted down at the base to prevent wind damage.
-Propane BBQ’s are not permitted on balconies
-Propane BBQ’s must be on a solid surface and may not be placed on the grass.
-Propane tanks are not permitted to be transported through the building at any time.
-Tanks may only be transported to the terrace from the street.
-Extra propane tanks may not be stored on the terrace or in the unit.
-The BBQ must have a concealed door that hides the propane tank from sight. Please see example below. If your propane tank is visible from the street, you will be given written notice that your unit will not be allowed the privilege of having a BBQ.
-BBQ’s must be covered with a fitted cover when not in use. Please see example below.
-Propane BBQ’s may not exceed 32,000BTU’s.
So there you have it.
It’s pretty straightforward: electric barbecues are allowed on all balconies, and propane barbecues are allowed on the ground floor units that have large, open-air terraces.
As I said, I applaud the board of directors for taking the initiative, but I see a couple of problems here. It’s going to be a learning curve for sure, so my pointing out these issues are more constructive criticism than cynicism…
The biggest problem I see here, is that the board is attempting to selectively allow barbecuing, when that’s not within their legal right to do so.
They’ve suggested, multiple times, that “privileges can been revoked.”
But they then go on to say that the board may “request removal” of a barbecue, which is more likely the case.
The board can’t really “revoke” a privilege, like a mother can ground a child, or a teacher can send a student to the principal’s office.
If there are ample noise complaints for one unit owner, then the concierge can call the police and have a ticket issued, or if there are grounds for a fine (as is the case in some condominium Declarations), then that’s a remedy as well. But the board can’t allow 199/200 residents to barbecue, and then somehow “suspend” one other resident from doing so.
It’s like trying to tell a resident that he or she can’t use the gym. Think of the guy in your gym that grunts really loud when he lifts weights. No matter how many times people complain, the board of directors, property manager, or concierge can’t tell him, “You grunt too loud – you can’t use the gym anymore.”
The board can’t tell a resident that the rooftop terrace is off limits, or that they can’t swim in the pool.
The board can merely “request removal” of a barbecue, but they cannot “revoke privileges.”
That’s my only real concern with this memorandum, other than the fact that people are people, and problems are going to occur.
Every condo in the city has the same memo in the elevator that says, “Please don’t toss your cigarette butts over your balcony railing as they can cause damage to terraces below, start fires,” etc. But is THAT really going to stop an asshole from being an asshole? Never has, never will. If somebody is the type of person to flick their cigarette butts over the rail when they’re done inhaling said cancer stick, then a memo in the elevator isn’t going to stop them.
And so if you allow people to barbecue, and you set out ground rules, those rules are going to be broken.
Case in point, this silly note right here:
“The BBQ must have a concealed door that hides the propane tank from sight. If your propane tank is visible from the street, you will be given written notice that your unit will not be allowed the privilege of having a BBQ.”
These rules assume that people in general are not jerks, and don’t flick cigarette butts over railings, don’t raise their voice in the hallways when drunk, don’t leave their garbage on the floor of the garbage room, and don’t allow their friends to park their cars in visitor parking when they head to the Jays game.
Some people might make an effort to “conceal the propane tank from sight,” but many won’t. Many will just say, “Hey, did you hear? We’re allowed barbecues!” And then proceed to do whatever they choose. The idea that “you will be given written notice that your unit will not be allowed the privilege of having a BBQ” is just silly, and is really an empty threat.
I love the fact that 90 Stadium Road is allowing barbecues, but I think there’s going to be some obvious growing pains here.
The units in this building just became that much more marketable to prospective buyers, and the residents are collectively a lot happier, and a lot more excited to go home every day at 6pm.
Kudos to Quay West for identifying the difference between electric and propane, identifying what is important to residents, and giving them what they want.
I hope the learning curve isn’t too steep…