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The cover story on this week’s Macleans magazine is about the difficulties of living together in a condominium.  There are some amazing examples of what neighbours have done to each other.

This story should demonstrate the most important differences between the traditional view of a home (in a single family dwelling with a white picket fence and so on) and living in a condominium; living in a condo means also living with the condo’s rules and all of the legalities of owning a property jointly.

You would think that problem-solving is just a matter of negotiations, but multi-lateral negotiations are much more complex than bilateral (e.g. buyer-seller) negotiations or trilateral (e.g. developer-neighbours-government) negotiations. The extra layers created by blocking coalitions, partial agreements and many dimensions to be discussed make this a conceptually hard problem even in a classroom.

So, can’t we just all get along? Apparently not, which is part of what makes this puzzle interesting. Maybe that explains the attraction of an older simpler solution: “good fences make good neighbours.”