Condos and bbqs – what enquiring cooks want to know.

Condos and bbqs – what enquiring cooks want to know.

July is Grilling Month – and really, who doesn't love barbecued steak/fish/tofu in the heat of summer? There's nothing quite like the smoky yumminess of grilled food, especially when you’ve cooked it without heating up your kitchen.

But when you live in a condo, can you still enjoy those tasty grill marks on your homemade burgers? It depends – every condo has different rules, and while Toronto doesn’t have any laws against barbecues on balconies, residents do have to abide by Ontario's laws about using, moving and storing propane. Your outdoor space has to be big enough that the barbeque is at least 10 feet away from the building or you have a natural gas line that lets you grill without a tank. There are strict rules around transporting a propane tank to your unit, too. You have to take a service elevator or be alone in the regular passenger elevator – no chatting up your cute neighbour as you transport that tank.

Of course, you could have a space that meets those requirements, but still not be allowed to have a barbecue: your condo board has to be okay with it or else you're out of luck. If being able to grill is a deal-breaker in your condo search, be sure to check the condo corporation's rules before you sign on the dotted line. Or focus your search on newer buildings, where you’ll be more likely to find gas hookups.

Read more: No AC? No problem! 15 hacks for keeping your cool this summer

So…let’s say you don’t have a monstrous balcony or your condo corp has said “nyet” to grilled meat. What’s a barbecue lover to do? Well, you don’t have to give up on grilling – you have a couple of options.

Option 1: Sharing the Q

A lot of buildings have some sort of communal barbecue setup – usually on a rooftop terrace or other open-air location. Although you sacrifice a bit in the way of privacy and convenience, this definitely comes in handy if you have a teeny balcony or no outdoor space at all.

The plus side of sharing is that those barbecues tend to be built for heavier use, so they are often higher quality, with bigger grills that can accommodate more stuff. Communal grilling is a perfect opportunity for neighborly potlucks, where everyone preps their own dinner and then eats together (within their social bubble or at a safe distance, of course). And it's great for guests – you can all be outside, which makes social distancing easier, with access to a big space that’s usually pretty nice and may even come with a great view.

The downside to a shared barbecue setup? Schlepping the food from your kitchen can be a bit of a pain, and hitting a busy time when other people want to use the barbeque can also be a hassle. A lot of buildings have a sign-up sheet to get everyone organized. If yours doesn't, feel free to suggest it to the condo board, or even request that they add another grill if there's a ton of demand. You'll also need to do some extra cleaning before and after you cook, to ensure your grill is clean and that you aren't spreading germs or touching a surface that might make you sick.

Read more: 8 tips to make your home a safer place

Option 2: Going electric

Electric grills may not quite measure up to the propane powerhouses grill masters love, but they can hold their own, and have come a long way in their cooking capabilities. Plus, they heat up quickly and cook evenly, there's no propane smell, they don't take up as much space and many have nonstick elements that make them really easy to clean. And if you're really after that smoky taste? Just add smoked wood chips to the grill for a bit more “outdoor” flavour.

Want to know which Toronto condos are bbq-friendly or have really great shared cooking areas? Talk to a Condo Pro – they know Toronto buildings and neighbourhoods better than anyone, and can help you zero in on the perfect place for you (and your barbecue).

Grilled fish with cherry tomatoes and rice

Basil-tomato fish packets

Need a quick and tasty idea for dinner tonight? This will work on any kind of grill – or even in the oven. And (bonus) it's super-easy, good for you and delicious.

Makes 2 servings


2 8 oz pieces of white fish (basa, cod, haddock, halibut)
6-8 cherry tomatoes, sliced in half
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp lemon juice
3 tbsp fresh basil, chopped
Salt and pepper


  1. Set the grill to medium-high (400F).

  2. Tear off two squares of aluminum foil, and place a piece of fish on each one.

  3. Arrange the tomato, garlic and basil over each piece.

  4. Whisk the oil, lemon, salt and pepper and pour it over, then fold the foil over the fish, securing the edges.

  5. Grill the packets for 10 minutes, then open them carefully with a knife or kitchen shears (there will be hot steam) and enjoy! These basil-tomato fish packets are great over rice, too.

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