COVID-19 (Coronavirus) – Update #15

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Dear Strata Councils,

We hope you are managing to enjoy the summer despite the unusual circumstances we all find ourselves in. We’d like to offer the follow important update on the latest developments around COVID-19 and how they impact your Strata Corporation:

Electronic Annual General Meetings

Our industry is adapting to the new reality, which essentially prohibits large gatherings. Strata Corporations are taking different approaches to conducting Annual General Meetings (AGMs), with most adopting a method that strongly discourages in-person attendance and encourages Owners to submit a “restricted proxy” form for another individual to vote on their behalf. When paired with a Town Hall style information/discussion meeting in advance of the AGM, this has worked well for most Strata Corporations. Others have begun conducting meetings entirely electronically, but this poses some challenges since the tools have not yet evolved to a point where they can approximate the experience of an in-person AGM. At this time even basic functions such as voting for a new Council are very difficult to accomplish.

While Stratawest can assist with the administration of these electronic meetings, and we are doing our best to stay on top of the latest technology, our Property Managers are not experts in this area. As such, we believe it is more appropriate for the Strata Council and/or a group of volunteers from the building that are comfortable with the technology to manage the technical aspects of the meetings. We will continue to learn, grow and share new information as it becomes available. We ask for your patience while we do so.

 

Third Party AGMs

One option that we hope will soon become available is AGMs hosted by independent third parties who are skilled in the technology required to do so properly. The Condominium Homeowners Association (CHOA) in particular has taken a proactive role and has successfully conducted several AGMs electronically. We encourage all of you to keep abreast of these developments, and to support CHOA if you are not already members. Their work has been instrumental in educating Property Managers and Strata Councils alike on the complex but necessary technological tools to conduct AGMs electronically, not to mention all of the other great support they provide on both COVID-19 and general Strata Corporation matters.

 

Fitness Facilities / Amenities

We appreciate that many residents are asking for amenities to reopen. While we can’t tell you what to do in this regard, we encourage you to take a cautious and thoughtful approach considering the elevated risk associated with reopening shared common spaces and the number of positive COVID-19 cases starting to rise. We can tell you that the number of our clients who have reopened their fitness facilities is a small minority.

 

Help Us Help You

We have invested significant resources to improve many of our systems to allow our staff to work remotely on a rotating basis, and in an environment where physical contact is limited. Our team members have been working extremely diligently over the past five months to provide the highest level of service possible. Most of us have taken little or no time off since the pandemic started and the increased workload is starting to take a toll on our people.

We recently reviewed our email server for trends, and noted a 30% increase in email traffic since March 2020. We would be grateful if you could take some of the following steps to help us continue to triage our substantial workload:

  • Do your best to handle routine Owner inquiries whenever possible, rather than elevating them to your Property Manager.
  • Speak directly with tradespeople and contractors.
  • Ensure that your emergency committee is able to effectively communicate with each other, and perhaps with residents when it comes to responding to inquiries about gyms, masks, safety protocols, etc.
  • Only email your Property Manager for urgent matters recognizing that you should be able to resolve most matters at a duly convened Council meeting.

This is an industry-wide issue, one not unique to our firm (not to mention all the other industries significantly impacted by COVID-19). We ask for your help as we make it through this summer season, with the hopes that at least some of our team members will be able to take some time to recharge and be better prepared to serve you to the best of our ability going forward.

Thank you.