Questionable proxies shut down Charles Street condo election, sources say
'Don't sign a proxy. Go to the meeting,' lawyer advises condo owners
New stories have emerged about condo owners who managed to fend off a takeover attempt by a group of people accused of aggressively winning control of condo boards.
The latest accusation comes as CBC Toronto continues to investigate allegations that three Toronto men — Darryl McGregor, Ray Blanchard and George Laczko — have been attempting to win control of several downtown condo boards and their multi-million-dollar budgets, whether together or individually.
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In some of those cases, not all the men actually own or live in the targeted building.
CBC Toronto has reached out to the people who've been accused of attempting to hijack condo boards. Those who have replied have denied involvement in any wrongdoing.
But in at least one case passed on to CBC Toronto by two sources familiar with the election process who have requested anonymity, a takeover bid was fought off.
On Jan. 4, 2017, the sources say, Blanchard, McGregor and a man named David Zing attempted to get elected to the board of the Casa II condos at 42 Charles St. E.
Shortly before the election meeting was set to begin, Blanchard and two other men allegedly arrived at the building. Blanchard, the sources say, claimed to own a unit in the high rise "in trust." Land registry records show the condo he claimed to own was registered to a woman from Alliston, Ontario.
Blanchard allegedly handed staff 91 proxies he wanted to register.
Staff at the condo, the sources allege, apparently became suspicious and began comparing the signatures on the proxies to the signatures of owners the building had on file. Some didn't match.
Staff told the men the election meeting would not be called to order. Blanchard allegedly warned staff they would be the subject of legal proceedings if the election didn't go ahead as planned.
Signatures didn't match
Staff held their ground and called security. According to the sources, the men and their lawyer were seen being escorted out of the condo tower.
A subsequent review of the proxies handed in allegedly revealed many of the signatures didn't match. In fact, more than a dozen owners signed affidavits claiming their signatures had been forged.
The developer held the election about a month later, hiring security guards to watch over the entrances. Proxies had to be handed in 48 hours before the election so every signature could be compared with legal documents the building had on file.
Blanchard, McGregor, Zing and their lawyer did not show up for that election.
Condo law expert Audrey Loeb, of the Toronto firm Miller Thomson, has advice for condo owners who are concerned that their building could be targetted for a takeover.
She says owner disinterest in board elections can make a building vulnerable.
"Don't sign a proxy. Go to the meeting, Ask questions of the candidates: What unit do you live in? Are you a resident? Are you an investor? Why do you want to sit on the board?," Loeb told CBC Toronto Tuesday.
"See the whites of their eyes."
And if you live in a building that you believe has been hijacked by people who may not have the residents' best interests at heart?
Loeb said any condo dweller has a legal right to call a meeting without the board's approval, providing they have the consent of 15 per cent of the owners.
Those meetings can result in new board elections, she said.
As well, an ongoing provincial review of the Condo Act could result in changes that better protect owners from aggressive board takeovers, Loeb said.