Today marks the beginning of the election campaign in Ontario. Candidates have until June 7 to campaign and try to get your vote. Blue, green, orange and red electoral signs (we listed them in alphabetical order) are popping everywhere. Boards and property managers will soon receive requests from candidates and their representatives wanting to access the property for canvassing purposes.
Condo boards and property managers should be aware of the new canvassing rules in Ontario that allow candidates and their representative to access multi-unit residential buildings. They should be aware of theses rules, especially considering that failure to comply with them may result in financial penalties.
Here are the rules applicable to canvassing in condos during a provincial election.
The Condominium Act
First, section 118 of the Condominium Act, 1998 is clear about canvassing. This section provides that a condominium corporation cannot restrict reasonable access to the property by candidates for election to the House of Commons, the Legislative Assembly or an office in a municipal government or school board if access is necessary for the purpose of canvassing or distributing election material.
The Election Act
Section 89.1 of the Election Act goes further and provides that no condominium corporation (or persons under their control) may prevent a candidate or his or her representative from accessing the common areas to distribute election materials and perform election-related activities in common areas.
Having said that, access to the common areas is subject to the following restrictions;
- The access must be between 9:00 a.m. and 9:00 p.m., between Monday and Friday, or between 9:00 a.m. and 6:00 p.m. on a Saturday or Sunday;
- At least one person seeking access must be at least 18 years of age;
- Every person seeking access must, on request, provide valid identification documents; and
- Every person seeking access who is not a candidate must, on request, provide valid written authorization from the candidate.
Please note that the Election Act provides for some exceptions to the right to access common areas, namely if the building has less than seven (7) self-contained units or if the residents’ physical or emotional well-being may be harmed by allowing such access.
A condominium corporation who fails to comply with the Election Act may be faced with an administrative penalty ranging from $500 for the first contravention up to $2,000 for three contraventions or more.