COVID-19 (Coronavirus) – Update #9
Dear Strata Councils,
It is with great relief that we can finally write to you with some optimistic news. As you are likely already aware, the Province has announced lifting of certain restrictions which will have significant impacts on you, your families, and of course your Strata Corporations.
- Easing of Restrictions – The Province has made official their Restart Plan, which includes a great deal of information on how they intend to manage the spread of COVID-19 while allowing business and industry to reopen. We are working hard to evaluate the Plan and adjust our practices to ensure we are in accordance with it, and remind you that our industry was designated as an Essential Service and that we did not close our business at any point. While the Plan may allow us to loosen some of our own restrictions we must still be mindful of the requirements that Worksafe BC is sure to lay out for office environments such as ours, be sensitive to our staff who are rightfully concerned about becoming ill, and of course our duties to you as our clients;
- Office Hours & Meetings – The impact of the easing of restrictions is not entirely clear yet, but as noted above we are working to adjust our policies to better serve our clients and ensure the safety and well-being of our staff. Our office hours will remain shortened from 9am-4pm for the foreseeable future, and we will remain closed to outside visitors without appointments. Some of our staff will continue to work from home on a staggered basis to minimize the number of individuals present in our offices at any one time, and in-person meetings will continue to be prohibited as a company policy to protect our staff from the still-present risk of community transmission. While the easing of restrictions will allow us to get slightly closer to “business as usual”, it is just not realistic to expect that with “40% social distancing” being the target that we can simply return everyone to the office and get back to the way things were before COVID-19;
- Site Visits – In an effort to increase social distancing, we had prohibited site visits from staff to buildings. We will look at easing this restriction in the coming weeks, but will continue to prioritize the safety of our staff;
- In-Suite Inspections/Maintenance – Most routine and non-urgent in-suite service (annual fire safety inspections, filter changes for heat pumps, etc.) has been postponed since COVID-19 was declared a pandemic. Rightly, service companies are not willing to place their staff in harms way or introduce risk into customers’ homes. We await guidance from the fire safety and mechanical/plumbing industries, who are working with their own industry associations and Worksafe to establish safety protocols to allow them to access Strata Lots in non-emergency situations. When we know more about the resumption of these types of services, we will communicate that to you;
- General Meetings – We have written to you a great deal about General Meetings and the complexities that COVID-19 has created. For the most part, our clients are opting to hold meetings on a “restricted proxy” basis, that is to say the meeting will be attended by a very small number of individuals and the “votes” will be solicited via a detailed proxy form sent to all Owners requesting that they appoint an individual to vote on their behalf. This is in keeping with the Province’s guidance that “all gatherings” should be “off the table”. The Province’s Restart Plan suggests small personal groups of 2-6 can now be convened, but this is not sufficient to run most General meetings in the old way and is intended to apply to groups of people who know each other i.e. friends and family. Gatherings of 50+ will continue to be prohibited under this plan until a vaccine is found and/or community immunity is reached- needless to say we are a long way off from either of those realities. Larger Strata Corporations should begin to plan to hold their AGMs via Restricted Proxy if they have been postponing them in the hopes that this restriction will be lifted as it does not appear that we will get back to bigger AGMs any time soon;
Many details remain to be worked out, and we are working hard to do so. We are proud of the work our staff have been doing under these most exceptional of circumstances, and are appreciative of the many notes of support we’ve received from you. We will endeavour to communicate our plans with you more fully as they develop. Once again, we thank you for taking the time to review this information.