COVID-19 (Coronavirus) – Update #8
Dear Strata Councils,
It has been seven weeks since our first blog post about COVID-19, and a great deal has changed since that time. Below are the latest material updates on COVID-19 and Strata Corporations:
- Electronic Annual General Meetings Part 1 – As we wrote about in Update #7, the Province implemented a Ministerial Order which allows all Strata Corporations to hold Annual or Special General Meetings via electronic means. Previously, only Strata Corporations with an explicit bylaw were permitted to do so. However, there are significant drawbacks to holding General Meetings electronically for all but the smallest of Strata Corporations- some of those drawbacks might be insurmountable. Tony Gioventu of the Condominium Homeowners Association wrote about electronic Annual General Meetings, as did our colleagues at Clark Wilson LLP. Because of the practical complications associated with holding a General Meeting entirely electronically, we continue to recommend holding those meetings by way of Restricted Proxy or postponing for the time being.
- Electronic Annual General Meetings Part 2 – As more Strata Corporations are calling AGMs during COVID-19, we are developing best practices based on actual experience. Near the top of the list of issues to resolve is how meaningful discussion on resolutions/budgets/elections can take place without an in-person meeting. Most Strata Corporations are opting for a period of feedback/questions to be submitted electronically after the AGM notice goes out and before the meeting occurs. We thank our clients for understanding that this process needs to be undertaken by the Strata Council, who are generally the ones who answer questions at General meetings. While your PM will attempt to assist with gathering facts, and our firm will facilitate the delivery of feedback and questions, ultimately it will be up to Strata Councils to address the questions and feedback submitted by Owners in advance of your AGM so that those Owners can feel comfortable submitting their proxy appointment form.
- Limitations – The folks at Lesperance Mendes have published this excellent Strata Alert discussing the implications of the suspension of the Limitation Period, which notably does not apply to BC Civil Resolution Tribunal Matters. In short, if you are considering an application on behalf of your Strata Corporation and it is nearing the 2 year Limitation Period expiration, you should not expect an extension at the CRT.
- Relaxing Restrictions – Health and government officials here in BC have begun to openly discuss the relaxation of current societal restrictions. Ontario and Quebec have started to release guidelines on how their provinces will “reopen”. That said, no blueprint has been offered on what that would look like here in BC or how it might impact Strata Corporations. We hope that more clarity will be obtained in the coming weeks and that we can begin to assist with the process of returning operations to something resembling “normal”, with the understanding and expectation that there will be a new normal which will look quite different from the previous.
- No Restrictions on Moves – our weekly calls with BC Housing and industry experts has made it very clear that moves in and out of strata falls under essential services and Strata Councils are not to place restrictions on them whether due to transaction (sale of the strata lot) or a change in tenancy. We are awaiting a summary guide from government on this and other issues that will provide clarity to those living in Strata Corporations and we will pass along that information as soon as it has been published.
- Fire & Life Safety Inspections – as with the above item, industry stakeholders are in contact with Technical Safety BC regarding how best to proceed with inspections of Fire Systems and other Life Safety related systems. These inspections are considered a priority and, while most fire inspection companies are still addressing common area inspections (in some instances, virtually), in-suites are generally not being performed. There is expected to be messaging coming from Technical Safety BC on strata corporation responsibilities during the epidemic regarding these systems and others that overlap in some way (i.e. elevator emergency back-up service and maintenance, Make Up Air Unit maintenance, and others that are integral to building safety systems).
Thank you as always for reviewing the above information. For those interested in more information, we encourage you to visit the COVID-19 section of our website where this and our previous communications are posted. We also recommend that you share the link to the site with Strata Lot Owners since it has a lot of useful information and answer many of the questions they might have during this time.