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Where Communication is Key
By James Russell | Other articles by James Russell
It is communication that elevates SkyView-on-Yonge to a level of excellence far above buildings with similar amenities.
"One of the Board's mandates is to be transparent by maintaining excellent lines of communication that make the residents aware of everything that is going on in the building," says the Board's President, Paul Goldstein.
Located at the corner of Yonge and Kempford Blvd., in the heart of Willowdale, a once distant outpost of Toronto that earned its first post office way back in 1851, SkyView-on-Yonge occupies nearly half a city block. Built in 1985, the twenty-one-floor condominium complex consists of 11 commercial units and 282 suites ranging from 860 to 2300 sq. ft. SkyView's impressive list of amenities include:
- 24/7 concierge service
- Indoor and outdoor swimming pools
- Whirlpool and separate men's & ladies' sauna rooms
- Modern gym and two indoor squash/racquetball courts
- Billiard room with two regulation-sized tables
- Library • Four-hole putting green
- Car wash
- Party-room with big-screen and full kitchen
- Social events such as bingo and movie night, bridge and golf tournaments
- Fifty resident-owned 'storage offices', each approximately 200 sq. ft. in size and complete with electrical outlets, air-conditioning, and ceiling lighting – all the comforts of a small office.
The three-acre swath of lush green space surrounding SkyView-on-Yonge provides residents with a welcome haven from the noise and traffic of Yonge Street to the east. Multiple barbeque sites, picnic areas, gardens, a mini-putting range and two tennis courts afford the residents an exceptionally wide range of leisure activities.
One of the keys to the success of any condominium is the participation of residents in the building's affairs. SkyView-on-Yonge has a long list of committees that include:
- Social Committee, chaired by Gary Clute and Sheila Sable
- Security Committee, chaired by William Junger
- Operations Committee, chaired by Cornelius Dragu
- Lobby Refurbishment Committee, co-chaired by E-J May and Sandi Friedman
- Rules and Bylaw Committee, chaired by Sam Helfenbaum
- Landscape Committee, chaired by Merle Eisen and Irene Marcovitz
- Finance Committee, chaired by Jerry Simon and Lawrie Kaplan
- Communications Committee, chaired by Amy Canter
- And the Walkabout Committee
Walkabout Committee? I know what you Aussie's are thinking, but you are wrong. This is not, in the words of the Oxford Dictionary, "A period of wandering in the bush by an Australian Indigenous person", rather the Walkabout Committee, chaired by Marg Gray and Susan Glickman, is an informal group whose mandate is to take periodic walks throughout the building and compile a list of small, but important, areas that need minor repairs, furniture or plants in need of rearrangement, or areas in need of cleaning. The list is then handed to their Board Liaison, Philip Cohen. In order to maintain the beauty and well-being of any condominium, 'the devil is in the details,' and SkyView-on-Yonge's Board is committed to ensuring that those details are addressed in a timely and efficient manner.
Although communication is the key to SkyView-on- Yonge's success, not all that communication is focused on condominium affairs. Long-time residents Angie Ducharme and John Windisman founded the building's Meeting of the Minds, a group that gets together weekly to discuss a range of subjects – such as 'Altruism', 'Lessons Learned from Life', 'About Famous People', 'Laughter is the Best Medicine' and 'Nomological Determinism vs. Free Will." Fifteen to twenty residents regularly attend the meetings, held in the party room. "We only have two rules," says John, "no condominium topics and no debating."
"People are the strength of SkyView-on- Yonge," says Moe Vyas, the Board's Secretary for the past two years. Moe and his wife Nisha looked at forty-five condos before deciding on SkyView-on-Yonge. "I love it in this building. I wish we had moved a few years ago to this particular address," says Nisha. Moe, an Aviation Consultant and avid tennis player agrees that he and his wife found just what they were looking for in SkyView-on-Yonge. "A south-western view overlooking trees and incredible people. SkyView-on-Yonge is the kind of community where it is easy to strike up conversations," says Moe who was elected to the Board within a month of he and Nisha moving in.
SkyView-on-Yonge's Board is made up of Paul Goldstein - President, Philip Cohen – Vice President; Emile Waitzman – Treasurer, Moe Vyas - Secretary; Fereidoon Zahedi – Director; Marvin Miller – Director; Bill Lifchus – Director; Paul and Moe, both first time Board members, say that they have learned a great deal since being elected. "I always wanted to serve on a board," says Paul who adds that his term of office over the past two years, "has been a positive experience."
As with any thirty-two-year-old building, repairs are an expected capital expense. Most recently those expenses have included:
- A major overhaul of the chiller, completed this past March
- Installation of energy efficient LED bulbs in the common area, garage, mechanical rooms and exterior parking areas
- Replacement of the resident's in-suite filters and fan coils with energy efficient models (2017)
- Renovation of the hallways including new carpet, sconces and wallpaper
- Cooling tower replacement (2016)
- Installation of an automated water treatment system for the cooling tower
Quite unexpected however was the halfyear- long process of repairing the building's water-corroded post tension cables and anchors. "It (the need for repairs) came out of nowhere. It was a huge financial commitment, which set us back with our refurbishment project," says Paul. During the 70's and 80s condominiums were sometimes constructed with steel cables running through the building's concrete support pads. The purpose of the cables was to increase the concrete pad's weightbearing ability and reduce fracturing. But moisture is an efficient corrosive, so eventually, the cables and their anchors weaken. Although the repairs represented an onerous one million dollar plus expense, they were a necessary one. As Paul says, "The first responsibility of the Board is the well-being of the building."
The Board and management of SkyViewon- Yonge maximizes its communication with residents through regular updates to the common area notice boards; quarterly, hard copy and digital versions of its newsletter, SkyView News as well as through the corporation's well-designed and userfriendly website.
Additionally, the Board and management hold quarterly information and ad hoc meetings. The last ad hoc meeting, which often focuses on topical subjects, concerned fire safety, a subject that was on the minds of the Board, management and residents as a result of the Grenfell Tower disaster last June in London.
"The key to the success of any building is the property manager, and Bes has a keen insight into the operation of this building," says Paul. Like several members of the Board, Bes Kondi is new to property management, coming from a successful career as a sales manager. "Working at SkyViewon- Yonge has been educational," says Bes, "Everyday I am learning something new but open communication with the Board has fostered a great relationship." Nisha Vyas, in a letter published in the spring issue of SkyView News said, "Bes has worked wonders and brought a semblance to this building since he took over from the previous manager."
Ever aware of the need to reduce their environmental footprint, the Board of SkyViewon- Yonge:
- Was one of the first in Willowdale to launch a Green Bin project, which, over the years, has diverted tonnes of organics from the landfill
- Is investigating different options for the installation of electric car chargers
- Is researching the traffic flow patterns in their garage and the possibility of installing a timed traffic light at the garage door which would reduce carbon emissions from vehicles and create a safer environment
Rollo May's words, although they date back nearly a hundred years, ring true to the Board's commitment to communication, a commitment that has created a sense of community and empowerment. As Paul says, "We (the Board) want the residents to have the strength and power to ask and to know what is going on in the building."
That sound you now hear is Mr. May applauding the Board, management and residents of SkyView-on-Yonge.