News / Edmonton

What about the children: Parent group calls for end to adults-only buildings in Alberta

Child-Friendly Housing Coalition says kids should be allowed in all apartments across the province.

The coalition’s outreach co-ordinator Jodie McKague stands outside family-friendly The Hendrix building in Edmonton on Thursday afternoon.

Kevin Tuong / Metro Order this photo

The coalition’s outreach co-ordinator Jodie McKague stands outside family-friendly The Hendrix building in Edmonton on Thursday afternoon.

A parent group is calling for an end to adults-only buildings in Alberta.

The new Child-Friendly Housing Coalition of Alberta will launch a campaign Saturday to make any building for people 18 and up illegal, except for supportive housing facilities.

“We believe that adult-only buildings are not only a violation of human rights, but they are very harmful and hurtful to healthy community growth,” said the coalition’s outreach co-ordinator Jodie McKague.

Alberta is the only province in Canada that allows 18-plus restrictions on condos and apartments, but the province is currently reviewing age discrimination in its human rights legislation.

McKague was a homeowner until six years ago when she went through a divorce. She planned to move into an apartment in the city core with her daughter, who is now nine years old, and said she was shut out by about 20 different buildings before she found one that would accept kids.

“I think a lot of us, we just shut up and go away and we think somehow it’s our problem. But when you start hearing other people talking about the issue, you realize it’s actually a really huge problem,” she said.

Newborn baby boy on a blue blanket.

ISTOCK

Newborn baby boy on a blue blanket.

McKague said she has heard from moms who had to sell their condos because they got pregnant, and others who have chosen not to have children because they don’t want to be forced to move out.

Alan Whyte, executive director of the Canadian Condominium Institute Northern Alberta, said most age-restricted buildings are downtown and the majority of those are specifically geared toward older adults.

He said age-restricted buildings are a minority and the campaign caught his institute by surprise “because it hadn’t been on our radar as an issue.”

Condos don’t have to register as age-restricted, so even the province does not have accurate numbers on how many buildings don’t allow children.

“There’s just no way of knowing,” Whyte said, adding it could be two per cent or 20 per cent.

He said the institute took a poll of 1,300 condo dwellers and found 75 per cent were in favour of age restrictions.

But he also acknowledged that the problem is growing as fewer couples and young families are able to afford houses.

“It’s more likely that younger couples starting out are starting in a condominium as their first purchase,” he said.

Ruth Adria challenged Alberta’s Human Rights Act in March 2016, claiming seniors are discriminated against when renting or selling. A judge agreed and gave the province a year to rewrite the act to prevent age-based discrimination, which opened the doors for discussion on adults-only buildings.

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Alberta does not protect tenants from discrimination based on age, although that is currently under review.

Section Five of the Alberta Human Rights Act states that no one can discriminate against any person or class of persons with respect to any term or condition of the tenancy of any commercial unit or self-contained dwelling unit because of the "race, religious beliefs, colour, gender, gender identity, gender expression, physical disability, mental disability, ancestry, place of origin, marital status, source of income, family status or sexual orientation of that person or class of persons or of any other person or class of persons."

Editor's note: The original version of this story stated Alberta is the only province that does not protect tenants from discrmination based on age. However, while Alberta is the only province with 18+ buildings, several provinces do not protect tenants from discrimination based on age in their human rights legislation.

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