With the ever-changing nature of global insurance markets and the unfortunate increase in severity and frequency of weather-related catastrophes ‘helping’ continue the trend of rising premium costs, the world of insurance is an ever more complicated and expensive one for strata councils to navigate. We take this opportunity early in the new year to pass along some general information to keep you and our clients informed on the renewal process along with some Market Insights from an industry expert to hopefully help make some more sense of this very significant and mandatory operating cost.
The 8th Annual Stratawest Christmas Toy Drive was a huge success and we are still at it! With the continued unbelievable support from our staff and industry colleagues, Stratawest is proud to have made significant contributions to the North Shore Christmas Bureau for the 8th year running and to Harvest Project in our 3rd year of involvement with their extremely impactful program of ‘extending a hand up, not just a hand out’. The response this year was again simply incredible, with amazingly generous donations of toys, clothing, thousands of dollars in gift cards, movie passes, and restaurant meals, sporting equipment – including 16 NEW bikes AND COUNTING! – sporting event tickets, iPods and many other items for needy families. Incredibly, there was far more than the picture shows as we could only fit in a few bikes and the boardroom still had plenty of toys in it… and gift cards are not that photogenic, but sure are awesome to get under the tree!
Marijuana legalization is now here.
Most Strata Corporations will almost certainly notice an uptick in the number of complaints of a “nuisance”- the smell of marijuana. What used to set marijuana apart from other smells (cigarettes, barbeques, cooking, untidy suites) was that it was illegal. That’s no longer the case!
Our good friends at Lesperance Mendes have put together a primer on the importance of taking complaints about smells seriously. You can find that here:
There are many reasons that complaints about smoke (and other nuisances) can’t just be ignored out of hand. We recommend that Councils faced with these sorts of ongoing issues form a small subcommittee to ensure that the investigative portion of Lesperance Mendes’ recommendations be enacted.
Just because marijuana is now legal does not mean that people can smoke it with impunity- it can still be considered a nuisance, especially if the recipient of the unwanted second hand smoke pushes hard on the matter.
Stratawest Management is very proud to be the Champion Sponsor this year for Sip and Savour 2018 which is back for a third year!
Sip and Savour is being held on November 19th at The Pipe Shop at the Shipyards in North Vancouver, with tastings from Vancouver’s top restaurants, bartenders, wineries, and breweries – all supporting BC Women’s Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (ICU).
Sip and Savour arose from numpfer™ founder Sarah Robbin’s desire to give back to BC Women’s, after her daughter Charlotte spent her first three days of life in the Neonatal ICU. Coincidentally, Stratawest president Cory Pettersen’s own daughter Alexandra also spent the first days of her life in the same unit and we are thrilled to be taking part in this worthy event in the name of all the families and children that may benefit from the same amazing level of care.
The past two events were an incredible success, demonstrating the extraordinary power of community, and raising almost $100,000 for cutting edge equipment and resources for the tiniest patients in BC and their families in their time of need. Tamara Taggart will once again MC this incredible night where guests sample the best of the city- mouth-watering canapés and delicious beverages from BC’s best restaurants, bartenders, wineries and craft breweries, bid for items from the curated silent auction, and hear incredible stories of courage and hope.
The 3rd Annual Sip and Savour will take place November 19, 2018 from 7 to 10 pm at The Pipe Shop, a stunning waterfront heritage building located in North Vancouver’s Shipyards District and there are still some tickets available!
The legalization of cannabis is on the immediate horizon and no one knows exactly what the ramifications will be for Strata Corporations. One thing is for certain, though- things are about to get a lot more complicated.
A recent article in the CBC highlighted some of the potential problems that Strata Corporations will face. While this article is about a condo corporation in Toronto, it could very well be written about any BC Strata Corporation as well and certainly those articles will be forthcoming.
We are witnessing more and more strife within Strata Corporations and the tug of war between advocates for marijuana and opponents is sure to be another battleground on which to fight and disagree. There appears to be very little middle ground on the subject (and this is ignoring that cigarette smoke creates many of the same problems).
Each Strata Corporation will have their own unique makeup, culture and personalities. There will be no cookie cutter approach and our best advice is to consult with your Owners (through information sessions and surveys) on what they’d like to see happen. Then, make sure to have lawyers draft appropriate bylaws to be placed in front of the Owners for approval. We recommend having that same lawyer attend the General Meeting where the resolution(s) will be discussed so questions can be answered on the spot by someone with the expertise to handle this complex matter. For example, at just about every General Meeting we’ve attended with a resolution on the floor to ban smoking (tobacco or otherwise) someone has asked “Can the Strata Corporation even do this?”. It’s important to have a lawyer there to answer that question.
We recommend starting this process now. Legalization is right around the corner and, while not everything is known about what that will look like, it’s not too early to get those bylaws implemented. You will still face challenges to those bylaws, based on human rights concerns or others. Once again, the best advice we can offer is to refer all inquiries to legal counsel so as to limit the possibility that a decision a Strata Council makes is later found to be contrary to the various pieces of legislation that are all heading on a collision course for each other.
We know that many of you have already read the news on this subject as our phones have been ringing this morning, trumpeting in the welcome arrival of some long overdue ammunition for those strata councils and ownership groups dealing with headaches related to AirBnB and other short-term rental platforms and vacation websites. Now, not all strata corporations are having an issue with short-term rentals and some of them are finding a way to co-exist quite nicely. Others are fully embracing short-term rentals through community decisions and bylaws specifically allowing for them. However, for many of those dealing with the rapid turnover of short-term rental units where the individuals involved are concerned exclusively with generating revenue- showing little care for violations of established rules, the strata corporation bylaws, neighbours, security issues, noise and/or damage to common property- this (soon to arrive) new ability for strata councils to fine owners up to $1,000 A DAY for defying a strata corporation’s bylaws on short-term rentals is being met with significant enthusiasm.
Tony Gioventu, one of the foremost experts in Strata issues in British Columbia, has written an article which we think is critical to understanding developments over the past 5-10 years in our industry. You can find his article, entitled “‘Bargain’ Management Fees Need a Closer Look” here.
To understand the broader context of why this topic is so important, we recommend referring to previous articles we’ve written on the critical shortage of labour in the Strata Management industry, as well as the increasing cost of doing business for Strata Corporations in light of minimum wage hikes.
We are often asked by Strata Councils about some of the procedures we have put in place to ensure proper approval and authorization of work and then payment for that work. Below you will find a brief primer on some of the important terms and concepts that drive our policies, and yours: