Adults-only buildings threatened by court ruling, advocates fear

Adults-only buildings threatened by court ruling, advocates fear

The Alberta government is considering banning adults-only designations for condominiums and rental buildings — a move that some fear will destroy the "peace and quiet" that led them to buy there.

Following a court decision earlier in 2017 that stipulated age must be considered a prohibited ground of discrimination under the Alberta Human Rights Act, the provincial government is reviewing its relevant legislation. 

The Court of Queen's Bench gave the province until next January to work out any exemptions and ensure its laws are in compliance with the ruling.

Unintended consequence

The issue was brought to court by seniors' advocate Ruth Adria, whose lawyer Allan Garber argued that older Albertans face "unfair or invalid" driving tests and other injustices.

Ironically though, one of the first implications of the decision could be the demise of adults-only buildings.

Andrew Fulcher, with the southern Alberta chapter of the Canadian Condominium Institute, says the possible changes have owners in those buildings concerned.

"People have bought into a place with the understanding that that's the way it will be. Now to change it, they're kind of … people are unhappy," he said.

'Peace and quiet' at stake, advocate says

Adults-only units make up about 25 per cent of Calgary's rental market.

Gerry Baxter with the Calgary Residential Rental Association says he hopes the government will consult with the industry about possible exemptions.

"I'm not sure that we necessarily have to discriminate against those people who have chosen a lifestyle way of living. They want to live in an adult-only building for the peace and quiet," he said.

"As the court decision in January explained, the government has a year to rewrite the legislation, to include age but also to determine what exemptions the government would consider necessary."

Government will comply

Adria's court application was unopposed by the province, and officials say the government intends to comply with the decision. There is no word yet on what exemptions it will allow.

Human rights acts in other provinces include exemptions for such things as life insurance — where older people can be charged more — and seniors residences, which are permitted to exclude people based on age.          

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