Written By: Tony Gioventu, Executive Director CHOA
The Guide Dog and Service Dog Act of B.C. is the first option and the second is accommodation under the B.C. Human Rights Code.
I moved into my dream condo back in the fall of 2019 before the COVID-19 crisis began. Since the limitations on gathering and requirements for isolation started, I have struggled to emotionally survive.
I finally decided to see my doctor, who recommended I find a companion pet that would be beneficial for emotional support as I have now been diagnosed with chronic depression. My challenge is my strata council. The building has a bylaw that prohibits all pets, and when I asked for an exemption, they told me the only type of pet they would consider is a Certified Assistance Pet under the legislation.
I requested a hearing with council, and they were quite rude to me and suggested I consider moving to a building that allowed pets. Considering the ongoing conditions of the pandemic, is there some way to encourage this community to be reasonable about people’s mental health issues?
— Candice M., West Vancouver
There are two separate options where pets may be exempt or accommodated under the Strata Corporations Bylaws.
The Guide Dog and Service Dog Act of B.C. is the first. Pets that are certified assistance pets under the Guide Dog and Service Dog Act of B.C. are not subject to the consideration of a strata council. They are exempt from strata bylaws. The strata corporation does not have the authority to prohibit, restrict or screen the service animals.
The second option is accommodation under the B.C. Human Rights Code. Both an applicant and the strata council have obligations when a request for accommodation is submitted. Under the B.C. Human Rights Tribunal, several decisions have resulted in tests that, if applied reasonably, will help both applicants and strata councils evaluate their process when they are considering a request for accommodation. Here is an overview to help assess your situation.
Whether it is a physical or mental disability, a strata corporation may be required to accommodate a resident of the strata corporation if the applicant can:
The strata council has a duty to:
Unfortunately, to their discredit and often needless expense, not all communities act reasonably. When a strata corporation will not act reasonably to accommodate owners, tenants and their occupants, your only choice may be a claim under the B.C. Human Rights Tribunal or through the Civil Resolution Tribunal of B.C. Both tribunals have the authority to issue orders and impose damages.
Tony Gioventu, Executive Director CHOA
Tony Gioventu is executive director of the Condominium Home Owners Association. Email email@example.com
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