My empty-nester clients, ready to move from their stately family home, had found the perfect condo in Yorkville; but their downsizing goals met one obstacle. They had 2 beloved dogs, one above the weight and size allowed by the condo board. This was a Labrador-sized dilemma: give up the condo or, heaven forbid, give up the dog! Thankfully, a fellow resident and influential board member represented them at a board meeting with compassion and personal attestation prompting the board to allow their second dog.
This isn’t always the case: There are owners whose pets do not satisfy the condo guidelines or possess any latitude for special consideration, and they cannot move in without abandoning their pet. Some pet owners ignore or overstep condo regulations and are lawfully, and regretfully, asked to get rid of their pet, deemed a “nuisance.” For those of us who are dog-lovers, moving without our beloved dog is akin to deserting a beloved family member.
The laws for luxury condos range all the way from welcoming all dogs, with no restrictions whatsoever, to restricting them altogether. Condo guidelines can be extremely specific in order to protect the well-being of all its residents. From a recent document: “a dog, not to exceed 25 in or 64 cm in height at ‘withers’ (being the ridge between the shoulders of a four-legged animal.” But amidst the legalese there is sometimes wiggle room for special consideration: Happily, for all of us, this worked for my Labrador-loving clients.
The hospitable leaning towards dog-owners is growing in accordance with the 30% boost in dog ownership in the last decade. Many Yorkville condo residences have no restrictions for pet owners: Four Seasons Private Residences, 155 Cumberland, the Lotus at 8 Scollard, the Hazelton Private Residences at 133 Hazelton, 4 Lowther, and Crystal Blu Condominiums at 21 Balmuto. Especially where there are no restrictions, an animal-loving community is established and pets remain the most amenable magnet for meeting fellow residents.
Most buildings allow pets with some restrictions. Some will, for example, (the Regency at 68 Yorkville), allow 2 dogs if they can be carried; that means small dogs, not those whose owners are bodybuilders. Some will allow 1 dog or 1 cat; some restrict to 1 or 2 pets per suite; some restrict by height and weight. Rules laid out in each condo building are usually very specific. No buildings will allow guard dogs; most welcome service dogs; and there is never discrimination as to the type of dog – breed or rescue.
The accommodation to a dog-owning lifestyle is reflected in the debut of dog-washing stations within buildings (36 Hazelton, 2 St. Thomas, and Pears on the Avenue) and the introduction of grooming facilities as part of the amenities. Off-leash parks are a recreational dream for dogs and their owners; they include Ramsden Park, Craigleigh Gardens (between Mt. Pleasant and Bayview), and lovely, historical Philosopher’s Walk at U of T where the on-leash policy is respectfully ignored by well-behaved dogs and their trusting owners. Charming Jean Sibelius Square (Dupont and Bathurst) is no longer an off-leash park but welcomes responsible dog-owners. An auspicious proposal from city council: Using the Playground Enhancement Program allotted to Huron St. Playground (Huron and Lowther), a separate off-leash area has been promised.
Neighborhood parks provide the greatest “relief” to the doggie and its owner. However, green space and its potential usage, are in as proportionately high demand as building space in the downtown core. An average 40-story condo tower can potentially house 280 dogs! City planners predict a doubling of the population in the city’s core within the next 24 years; 1/3 of condo residents will be dog-owners. The growing phenomenon of condo family life with children plus dog is an anticipated reality. Now herein lies the problem: even as condo buildings allow for pets, WHERE are dog-owners going to take their pets on their daily 2-3 walks? As the problem increases, so do public complaints and concerns. CBC Radio recently ran a series entitled: “A Place to Go: Designing the City for Dogs and People.” It started with an interview of dog-owners who no longer take their dogs to one specific park that is contaminated from overuse. As the city grows and with it our entrenched “Must Love Dogs” sentiment, city councils, condo boards, city planners, architects, animal activists – and all of us who love dogs – are obligated to find solutions.