Stratawest Client Updates

  • COVID-19 (Coronavirus) – Update #24


    Dear Strata Councils,

    Today, March 10th, 2022, Dr. Bonnie Henry and the Province of British Columbia announced that the requirement to wear masks in indoor public spaces shall be lifted at 12:01am tomorrow (Friday March 11th, 2022).

    Most of our clients have implemented their own mask mandates to mirror those of the Province (which do not apply to Strata Corporations, as we’ve written about previously, most recently in Update #23).

    Our note today is intended to be brief.  If you wish to lift or amend your own mask Rules, please advise your Property Manager so that we can prepare notices to advise Residents of the change in policy.

    The situation with COVID-19 continues to evolve and thankfully recent developments have been much more positive.  We will write again once more is known about the implications of recent (and upcoming) announcements on your Strata Corporation.

    Thank you.

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  • COVID-19 (Coronavirus) – Update #23


    Dear Strata Councils,

    We hope this message finds you safe and healthy during the holiday season and that we have some clearer (if snowy) skies ahead soon. Please stay warm over the next few days.

    As you are aware, the Provincial Health Officer (PHO) has introduced additional province-wide restrictions as of December 20th and 22nd, 2021 in an effort to keep BC safe and infection numbers down in light of the highly infectious Omicron variant. We have discussed the recent Order with other management companies and legal counsel to be able to offer the following regarding the latest announcements.  These comments are consistent with what other firms in our industry are recommending.  With that in mind, we offer the following guidance of a non-legal nature:

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  • COVID-19 (Coronavirus) – Update #22


    Dear Strata Councils,

    It has been an eventful few days with important developments in the fight against COVID-19.  We hope this message finds you safe and sound in this challenging summer season, which has seen multiple crises facing British Columbians and others around the world.

    We understand that you all will have many questions about the new announcements from the Province, and would like to offer the following regarding the latest announcements:

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  • COVID-19 (Coronavirus) – Update #21


    Dear Strata Councils,

    We are now into Phase 2 of the Province’s Restart Plan.  We know that you are as excited as we are to see friends, family and to re-engage in activities we have all missed.  We’d like to help support your efforts by providing the latest updates we have on various matters impacting your Strata Corporation:

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  • COVID-19 (Coronavirus) – Update #20


    Dear Strata Councils,

    It has been a while since our last update as there have been few policy developments with respect to COVID-19 for a number of months. However, with reopening on the horizon (the Province is set to announce a Reopening Plan today, May 25) we wanted to update you on some of the changes to expect in the weeks and months to come, along with other important recommendations relating to COVID-19.

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  • COVID-19 (Coronavirus) – Update #19


    Dear Strata Councils,

    As we post our 19th Covid-19 update there are many reasons for wider optimism regarding the pandemic and we are all thrilled for some better news coming in. That said, there are obviously still reasons to be concerned about the next few months and beyond.  Delays with vaccine delivery, variants and more suggest that we will need to continue to remain vigilant and cautious as we move through 2021. Business as usual, it seems, is still not yet close to reality.

    With that in mind, we’d like to update you and provide some suggestions on the following items relating to COVID-19 and it’s impact on our operations and your Strata Corporation:

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  • COVID-19 (Coronavirus) – Update #18


    Dear Strata Councils,

    This week was very challenging for many of you, with rising case numbers of COVID-19, increased isolation and the turning of the weather.  You are no doubt weary of Strata Corporation matters being placed before you.

    However, we are compelled to write to you with important information about the anticipated Order from the Provincial Health Officer.  On November 19th, Dr. Bonnie Henry and Health Minister Adrian Dix held a press conference and announced a new order mandating that masks be worn by all capable individuals in all indoor public spaces.  A day later, the Province formally confirmed that Strata common areas such as hallways, lobbies and elevators are subject to the Order.  We have drafted the attached generic notices which you may use in your properties to advise Residents of the new Order.  Many of you had already passed Rules which require guests, trades people and others to wear masks- this new mandate applies to everyone.

    It is unclear how enforcement of this new mandate will work, and we encourage you to exercise patience while these details are being worked on by the authorities.  The notices we have attached are purposefully silent on the subject of enforcement, to avoid the expectation that the Strata Council will necessarily fine individuals seen without masks.  Some Strata Councils may be tempted to pass new Rules to mirror the Order- requiring masks for residents.  We do not take a position on such measures, though we will point out that this is likely to create enforcement challenges for you and your site staff.  All anyone needs to do is open a social media app or a newspaper to see the controversy that can come with enforcement of mask mandates.  As it stands, without a Strata Corporation Rule the enforcement of the Order may only fall to the Provincial authorities.  We also can share with you that in the short time since the Order was announced, our office has been inundated with calls and emails insisting that Strata Councils enforce the Order- you are likely to see a great deal of correspondence come your way on this subject from concerned residents.

    That said, it’s important to note that most Strata Corporations have some version of a Bylaw which prohibits any “illegal” behaviour.  This bylaw may be cited by Residents who are upset to see their neighbours failing to wear a mask as required.  Time will tell whether or not Strata Councils can utilize this bylaw to enforce the mask mandate.  The Province has already suggested that retail establishments will be responsible for enforcing the mandate and it is possible that they will expect Strata Councils to do so.  If so, we will do our best to assist you, as always, with strong guidance and the most up to date information we obtain from industry stakeholders.

    Thank you for taking the time to read this important bulletin.

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  • COVID-19 (Coronavirus) – Update #17


    Dear Strata Councils,

    We write to you to provide updates on two of the most pressing, and nearly universal challenges being faced by Strata Corporations in the era of COVID-19.

    Annual/Special General Meetings

    A recent Civil Resolution Tribunal decision invalidated the results of a Special General Meeting held by a Strata Corporation, which is causing a great deal of consternation for Strata Corporations who have been conducting their General Meetings in accordance with the guidance that most strata management firms in BC (including Stratawest) have provided over the past seven months.  You can read the BC CRT Ruling here.  Some have mistakenly interpreted this ruling to mean that Strata Corporations must hold General Meetings electronically for so long as in-person meetings remain challenging due to COVID-19, however that is explicitly rejected within the ruling itself.  It is also not true that just because this meeting was invalidated that a meeting you’ve already conducted is necessarily invalid- there are many issues with how this meeting was conducted.  Electronic meetings remain an option for Strata Corporations, but they are not mandatory.

    The CRT Ruling invalidated the meeting results for a number of reasons, not likely to be replicated within our own portfolio of business.  First and foremost, the adjudicator ruled that the meeting notice in and of itself was flawed- in that it did not comply with Section 61 of the Strata Property Act.  This is likely because the Strata Council at this property circulated the Notice of Meeting rather than the management company, and they did not do so in a manner which the legislation allows meeting notices to be circulated.  As cited by the CRT: “I find the strata did not account for strata lot owners who did not live at the strata, or any who did not provide email addresses for notice purposes.  As a result, I find that the strata’s attempts to give notice of the SGM were inadequate and not reasonable.  So, I find that the May 20, 20 20 SGM was not properly called, and the vote taken at the SGM is not valid”.  For our part, we will always ensure that notices our office sends out comply with the Section 61 requirements of the Act to avoid such a scenario.

    A number of other flaws were cited with how the meeting was conducted, which are worth noting to ensure that your Strata complies with the Act and relevant Ministerial orders.  Owners and their proxy appointees cannot be prohibited from attending if your meeting is held in a physical location, and Owners are free to appoint whomever they like as a proxy – with 2 notable exceptions which are employees of the Strata Corporation and employees of the Brokerage managing your property (us).  The only alternative to a physical location is an online meeting, which as a policy we do not conduct on your behalf, due to the technical challenges associated with doing so. That being said, we will continue to attend and perform our regular duties if you retain a third party to do so on your behalf or host it electronically yourself with volunteers from the Council or wider Ownership.  So, while your Strata can continue to encourage Owners to appoint a proxy to vote on their behalf, who that proxy is cannot be limited to Council Members.  In light of COVID-19 and to ensure safety with physical distancing it is likely that you will want to reduce the number of attendees as much as possible which is precisely why we encourage Strata Councils to hold either an informal Town Hall/Information Meeting in advance of your General Meeting to offer Owners an opportunity to fully discuss and debate the merits of whatever resolutions you are proposing, or to offer an opportunity for Owners to ask questions in writing if it is a very simple meeting.

    It’s important to remember that it is not Strata Corporations which have instituted a cap of 50 people on attending an event (and do not forget that physical distancing is required along with a host of other COVID-19 related measures), it is the Provincial Health Officer that has done so.  You are obliged to allow Owners or their proxies an opportunity to attend if they so choose, but you can likely reduce the number of non-Council members/volunteers to a very small number or possibly zero if you ensure that Owners feel enfranchised and are offered adequate opportunities to debate the merits of the resolutions before the meeting itself.

    There are two other points we feel very relevant to this conversation.  The first is that the decision acknowledges that the in-person portion of a meeting can be very brief, as it is the Chair that decides when conversation on a resolution ends and the vote is called.  As cited in the decision, “the strata council controls the agenda, and the SPA does not require pre-vote discussions”. In other words, if you take reasonable steps to enfranchise Owners in advance of the meeting itself, the Chair has the authority to simply go step by step through the agenda without any further meaningful discussion i.e. in the event that one Owner attends in person along with the handful of volunteers holding proxies.  Finally, the meeting in question was highly controversial and the resolution presented passed by a single vote- most meetings are not nearly this contentious or as likely to be litigated, though we do encourage you to actively consider the “worst case scenario” when planning your meetings.


    Amenity Closures

    Another BC CRT decision is likely to cause concern for Strata Councils struggling with the topic of reopening amenities, which we have written about on a number of occasions (you can review previous bulletins at our website,  You can read the relevant decision here.  In this decision, the CRT ruled that the subject Strata Corporation must either reopen their pool facility or obtain a ¾ vote of the Owners authorizing it to be closed during COVID-19.

    We have no familiarity with the particulars of this Strata Corporation beyond the circumstances cited in the decision itself, but we can foresee Strata Councils drawing the conclusion that they must immediately reopen their amenity facilities as a result of this ruling.  Within our own portfolio of clients, approximately 30% of the fitness facilities are open with the balance still closed after the initial flurry of closures in March.  Strata Councils continue to wrestle with the very difficult questions associated with reopening including but not limited to:

    • Determining appropriate limits to the number of attendees to ensure social distancing.  The Condominium Homeowners Association (CHOA) recommends a rule of “15 % normal capacity”- in other words, a room such as a fitness facility should be limited to 15% of it’s previous maximum occupancy to ensure social distancing of 6 feet can be adhered to;
    • Creating a Worksafe BC compliant safety plan that addresses the challenges posed by contractors and sometimes employees entering into these facilities;
    • Establishing Rules around the safe operation of the facility including sign-in/contact-tracing requirements, duration of workouts, whether or not visitors can attend, who is responsible for cleaning of equipment/machines, etc.
    • Dealing with the increased costs and challenges related to increased cleaning, security, contact tracing, etc.

    For many months we have seen Strata Councils wrestling with these very difficult decisions.  As a non-profit entity your Strata Corporation likely has limited resources available to address all of the myriad concerns around reopening.  That said, remaining closed indefinitely could certainly lead to  complaints from Owners and Tenants who feel the facilities are being closed unfairly.  Balancing the competing priorities of health and wellness is a very challenging task, one which we do not envy you being responsible to make decisions around.  We encourage you to avail yourselves of the resources available at our website to create plans you feel comfortable establishing when reopening, or to give consideration to obtaining a ¾ vote of the Owners to formally authorize the closure of your facilities if reopening is not feasible- which may be the case in some instances depending on the particular physical and demographic realities of your Strata Corporation.  While your Property Manager can assist with high-level guidance based on experience elsewhere, this is the Strata Council’s decision to make and we are not a substitute for legal advice or Worksafe BC expertise.

    We would also be remiss if we did not point out that this decision was about a Strata pool facility. In practice, pools are larger rooms (often outdoors) with lots of space to move around. Gyms/fitness facilities are typically more cramped because of machinery and other equipment.  The fact patterns are important and likely to be unique between different Strata Corporations.

    As always, we thank you for taking the time to read this important update.

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  • COVID-19 (Coronavirus) – Update #16


    Dear Strata Councils,

    We are half-way through August and into the home stretch of summer. While there is thankfully less day-to-day urgent information to pass along as the industry gets acclimatized to the challenges being faced by Strata Corporations, we remain involved with various working groups tackling the issues as they come up and more guidance is gathered.

    Our firm, as an industry leader, is taking part in regular calls led by BC Housing Policy Branch to assist with strata-COVID-19 related policy and potential legislation changes, as well as how to address the current insurance crisis. With that in mind, we’d like to offer the follow important update on the latest developments around COVID-19 and how they impact your Strata Corporation.


    Draft Policy Documents (Sample Mask Protocol/Pool Policy/Outbreak Checklist)

    The Condominium Homeowners Association (CHOA)  has been kind enough to provide updated versions of a number of draft documents to be posted/circulated at the direction of strata councils that wish to have these sorts of policies to be implemented. These include a Sample Mask protocol, a Draft Pool Policy and ‘What to do if we have a COVID-19 Outbreak’.  While Stratawest has clients who have already developed similar protocols, the CHOA versions and other updates can be found here:

    Currently, it is up to each Strata Council to consider implementing a Rule requiring mask usage while on the Common Property.  At this time, such measures have not been mandated by any health authorities in BC (however, such policies are in place in other jurisdictions around Canada). Anecdotally, CHOA has noted that some large downtown core and Coal Harbour strata corporations have put a mandatory mask policy in place for common areas and there has been near total buy-in with the residents. Of course, enforcement of such Rules presents a significant challenge and it is no secret that the subject of masks has become a very sensitive subject for many.  More information on the wearing of masks to prevent spread of the virus can be found here

    It is worth noting that the various committees and industry groups we are involved with have yielded much information over the past month on what strata corporations are doing with respect to deciding whether or not to open fitness facilities and other amenities. In short, while many in the Lower Mainland have re-opened there have also been a number of cases of reversing this decision due to the costs, frustrations in dealing with residents not complying with the required rules, and the potential liability concerns.  In some properties, legitimate outbreak concerns have led to gym closures.  Again, while we appreciate that many residents are asking for amenities to reopen this is completely a decision to be made by your strata council with the best interests of all residents in mind.  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 on the rise, particularly here in the Lower Mainland.


    Insurance Crisis and Bill 14

    Many of you have already been impacted by significant increases in your insurance premiums at your most recent policy renewal.  This topic has been covered in great detail in previous blog posts from our firm. In an attempt to address some of the concerns and perceived underlying factors impacting insurance costs, the Provincial government has passed Bill 14 amending various Sections of the Strata Property Act which has received royal assent. The first and immediate provision will be the requirement to advise your ownership of any material change in coverage, cost, deductible, etc. as soon as feasibly. The Bill will also see amendments and new Regulations prohibiting referral fees and improve disclosure on changes in the insurance policy wordings. As previously stated, Stratawest has never received insurance commissions of any type in all of our years of placing insurance for clients and we are very hopeful these changes (apparently to be enforceable later in the fall) will actually perform as intended to end this practice carried out by a relatively small number of brokerages in our industry.

    With regard to the actual effect these changes contemplated in Bill 14 may have, we’d caution not to expect them to significantly impact or influence the cost of strata insurance. This is a starting point and the Provincial government trying to do something (or be seen as doing something) to improve the position of consumers dealing with a complicated supply/demand situation in a private industry over which they have relatively little influence.  There is a balance being struck between trying to make positive change and not ‘scaring off’ those underwriters currently involved in the BC market and discouraging them from even offering coverage for subscription policies in the first place.

    On a related matter, we are pleased to note that members of the Board of Directors for Strata Property Agents of BC (SPABC) have been invited by the BC Financial Services Authority (BCFSA) to take part in stakeholder engagement sessions about the sustainability of the strata property insurance market in British Columbia. It is great to have the opportunity to advocate for our clients and be included as experts in our area of the industry to discuss topics such as how to bring the insurance market back to a healthy state, ways to better educate consumers on strata insurance, efforts to improve information disclosure at unit point of sale, and Home warranty coverage. We will report on this information becomes available and is allowed to be shared.


    Electronic Annual General Meetings

    As everyone is aware, the current State of Emergency in place has eased a number of restrictions and allowed for strata corporations to hold General Meetings electronically. While many strata corporations continue to handle these meetings by discouraging in-person attendance and allowing Owners to submit a “restricted proxy” form for another individual to vote on their behalf, the option of meeting electronically will be in place for at least 90 days following the end of the State of Emergency. Furthermore, there is the strong potential for this to be extended by way of a Regulation on the recommendation of the Policy and Legislation Branch until June 2021.

    We have had great success with clients holding Annual and Special General Meetings by allowing owners to vote via “restricted proxy” (often with a Town Hall style meeting held in advance to allow owner’s to discuss contentious issues and ask questions) and we are here to assist those clients choosing to hold their General Meeting entirely electronically. However, as we and other brokerages have noted 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. 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 and the strata council will need to be involved should this be the route you choose to take.

    Thank you for all that you are doing for your fellow owners during this extraordinary time, enjoy the rest of your summer, we will be in touch again soon.

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  • COVID-19 (Coronavirus) – Update #15


    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:

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  • COVID-19 (Coronavirus) – Update #14


    Dear Strata Councils,

    Our latest update is targeted at one specific issue, Worksafe BC’s requirements for Employers.

    WorksafeBC has mandated that all Employers, including Strata Corporations, are required to develop a COVID-19 Safety Plan “that outlines the policies, guidelines and procedures they have put in place to reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmission”.

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  • COVID-19 (Coronavirus) – Update #13


    Dear Strata Councils,

    We’re pleased to say that there have not been many COVID-19 related developments over the past week- with any luck, as restrictions ease we will all get back to something a little more closely resembling “normal” over the summer.  We must continue to be vigilant, especially when it comes to preparation for a second wave of the virus, and ensure that we are all doing our part to mitigate the risk of transmission that still exists.  With that in mind, we offer the following guidance:

      • Amenity Spaces – The reopening of amenity spaces is one of the more significant challenges facing Strata Councils at this time.  There are Owners/Residents who are pushing for spaces to be reopened, whether it’s to celebrate a loved one’s birthday, tend to a community garden, relax in a Strata movie theatre or work up a sweat in a gym. We are mindful of the guidance being offered by public health authorities (such as this guide, from Island Health, which outlines their requirements for reopening fitness centres and which serves as a useful template for local properties).  The Condominium Home Owners Association (CHOA) conducted a webinar last week on this specific subject, which they’ve been kind enough to make publicly available here.  We recommend your Emergency Committee review this presentation, as it synthesizes the latest available data and provides broad advice to Strata Corporations who are considering reopening their spaces.  At this time, neither Fraser nor Vancouver Coastal Health have published their own regulations for fitness facilities, and thus Strata Corporations are directed to the WorksafeBC regulations.

        There are many takeaways from CHOA’s presentation, but a few are worth highlighting:

        • Strata amenity spaces are treated in the same manner as commercial spaces, and there are positive obligations on Strata Corporations who wish to reopen to ensure cleanliness/hygiene.  This likely requires monitoring the space to ensure compliance with the Worksafe regulations for gyms and fitness centres.  Monitoring the space for compliance will mean different things to different Strata Corporations depending on their physical layout and how much use the space sees, but at a maximum may require a permanent staff member to be assigned to supervise the space and at a minimum would almost certainly require regular check-ups by staff members or Council members, equipping the spaces with sanitization/hand-washing stations, protecting the health of Strata employees/contractors and more;
        • Social distancing must be adhered to in order to protect the users and the Strata Corporation from liability- CHOA recommends a 15% rule for occupancy, based on the math of requiring 2 metres of distance between individuals in an enclosed space.  In other words, if your gym had a previous occupancy limit of 8, it should be reduced to 1-2, if your meeting room had a previous occupancy of 16 it would be reduced to 2-3, etc.  Obviously, this is a dramatic reduction in the capacity of spaces- and because of the additional costs associated with staffing and cleaning these spaces, many Strata Corporations are simply not re-opening;
        • Strata Councils should work out systems, if they reopen amenity spaces, to ensure strict compliance with Worksafe BC regulations such as that users be screened (and tracked, for contact tracing purposes) before using the space, appropriate signage is developed, equipment removed or re-arranged to help with distance, staff are protected, reporting structures are in place for any issues encountered, etc.

    Needless to say these are significant burdens on non-profit Strata Corporations.  We recognize that there is a very strong desire to utilize amenity spaces (paid for by Strata Fees) and will continue to share with you the latest advice from experts in our industry as it                                           comes in.  We also recommend legal advice if you are struggling with specific requirements for your facility as there is no one-size fits all approach.

      • In-Suite Inspections – With stay-at-home orders being lifted, many Strata Corporations are considering how to go about conducting in-suite inspections for items such as routine testing of fire safety devices, servicing heat pumps, etc.  CHOA’s advice is that consent of an Owner should be obtained before entering a Strata Lot in non-emergency circumstances.  Most Strata Corporation’s have some version of a bylaw that allows the Strata to conduct routine inspections upon 48 hours notice however, the real question is whether or not such a Bylaw would conflict with an Owner’s potential desire to protect themselves (or immunocompromised household members) from the risk associated with having strangers in their suite conducting anything but the most urgent of services.  Like with fitness facilities, there is likely to be no one size fits all solution, and your PM can help you come up with plans for whatever inspection may be coming due- but do keep in mind that we are not a substitute for legal advice and this is an unprecedented situation with only basic guidance being provided by industry associations around social distancing, PPE, etc.  In their April 3rd bulletin, the Canadian Fire Alarm Association did note that though they are required to note an untested device as “inaccessible” there are provisions in the standards for these devices to be tested at least once every two years, which may relieve some of the pressure associated with some suites denying access this year.
      • BC State of Emergency – On June 10th, 2020, the Province extended the State of Emergency by another 2 weeks (at a minimum).  All orders, such as the Order in Council allowing Electronic Annual General Meetings, remain in effect.
      • WorksafeBC and Stratawest – We have developed our plans to ensure compliance with Worksafe BC and our own regulators.  In reality, most of the steps that they recommend for real estate brokerages such as ourselves were measures we implemented in early March, such as sending most of our workforce home to work in shifts and limit the number of individuals in the office.  We have installed plexiglass shields for some workers who are in close proximity to each other, and continued with staggered shifts/remote working to ensure appropriate social distancing.  We have arranged two large scale sanitizations of our office, and conduct regular cleaning.  In short, we are doing everything we can to ensure continuity of our services and are conducting some large-scale technological upgrades during this window so that if a second wave hits, we will be better prepared than we were back in March to weather the storm.

    Thank you, as always, for taking the time to review this important update.

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  • COVID-19 (Coronavirus) – Update #12


    Dear Strata Councils,

    With Phase II coming into effect over the past several weeks, we have seen the easing of many restrictions around the Lower Mainland and within our portfolio of properties.  Of course, even with restrictions being lifted new challenges are being presented and with that in mind we offer several updates on important matters affecting Strata Corporations:

      • General Meetings – The Province recently announced an extension to the State of Emergency within British Columbia. The current state will end on June 9th, unless it is further extended. The emergency order which allows Strata Corporations to hold general meetings electronically will expire when the State of Emergency is lifted (unless other legislative changes are introduced in the meantime, such as the recent Order in Council which makes permanent the ability to hold General Meetings by electronic means during a Provincial State of Emergency).  Once the State of Emergency is lifted, only Strata Corporations with bylaws permitting them to hold general meetings electronically will be able to do so- a return to the previous condition.  Most Strata Corporations do not have such a bylaw, and Strata Council should seek legal advice if the order is lifted and if you continue to plan to hold your meeting electronically.  As we have written previously, such meetings are fraught with challenges- best highlighted in a series of articles produced by the Condominium Home Owners Association (CHOA).  You can find them here and here. As we have indicated in our previous articles, due to the continued need for social distancing our strong endorsement remains for meetings to be held in the traditional manner described by CHOA with the Strata Council convening the General Meeting and allow voting by restricted proxy for the convenience of Owners, allowing them to appoint individuals to attend and vote on their behalf.  The challenges of electronic meetings (some of which will become moot if the order is indeed lifted) are not yet surmountable with the availability of existing technology and training for Strata Councils and Property Managers.  Should you choose to hold your meetings electronically, we will do our best to assist;
      • Elections – Early on in the COVID-19 crisis, some Strata Corporations were considering whether or not it would be possible to hold an election for Strata Council at their AGMs largely being conducted by restricted proxy (i.e. without many Owners attending).  Best practices are being developed in this regard and the early challenges with respect to how to call for nominations and allow for a democratic election have largely been overcome.  Many Strata Corporations have conducted elections already, and we encourage you not to postpone this important agenda item if you are calling an Annual General Meeting.  Nominations can be solicited in advance with names/biographies being distributed to Owners for consideration when appointing their proxy to vote on their behalf.  Owners can be reminded of the important roles and responsibilities of Council members when nominations are being sought.
      • Insurance Premiums – By way of the same Order in Council noted above, the Province has enacted changes to the Strata Property Act Regulations which will provide peace of mind to Strata Councils considering paying for increased insurance premiums from the Contingency Reserve Fund (CRF).  Though many had authorized this expense, it was not perfectly clear whether or not an Owner challenge of such a decision would be successful- the Province has (wisely, in our view) eliminated any ambiguity about this by explicitly permitting insurance premiums to be paid from the CRF;
      • Amenity Spaces – In an article entitled “Strata Corporations urged to be cautious in facilities reopening”, Business In Vancouver highlights some of the challenges Strata Corporations face in reopening amenities.  Some guidance is offered by both CHOA and Clark Wilson LLP, and we encourage you to read this article as you deliberate how best to reopen (if at all) your amenity spaces.

    Thank you as always for your kind consideration of the above.

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  • COVID-19 (Coronavirus) – Update #11


    Dear Strata Councils,


    Below we write to you with more updates on Strata Corporation operations and the implications of COVID-19, particularly on meetings and Annual General Meetings and growing concern about the economic impact on Strata Corporation finances:

      • Late Penalties – Strata Councils should begin to discuss an approach to arrears from Owners who are unable to make payment of their monthly Strata Fees and/or Special Levies.  The legislation has not changed. All Strata Corporations retain the right to levy fines, add interest and file liens against Owners who do not make payment on time.  However, exceptional times call for exceptional measures and it may be wise to consider an approach to Owners facing financial hardship such as offering payment plans and/or deferral of penalties.  Doing so will require careful consideration. Your Strata Corporation relies on the fees it collects to maintain basic operations, and so there is not a great deal of flexibility for you (unfortunately) when it comes to deferring revenue.  Strata Corporations have very little capacity to borrow and/or dip into reserves indefinitely.  Ultimately, each case will have to be treated individually by Councils who will have to weigh the many competing considerations at hand;
      • General Meetings – As we previously noted, the Province has enacted an emergency Order allowing all General Meetings to be held electronically (previously, only Strata Corporations with a specific bylaw were permitted to do so).  To be clear, many strata corporations have and continue to convene General Meetings and allow absentee voting by restricted proxy which is working quite well for both small and large strata corporations under the circumstances. An electronic meetings is a different thing entirely and requires that owners be able to attend by phone/Zoom/etc., which brings with it significant complications and challenges.While an electronic meeting may be practical for some Strata Corporations, particularly those that are very small, in our view (and that of our main industry association, the Strata Property Agents of British Columbia (SPABC)) it remains impractical for larger meetings.  We have serious concerns about the ability for larger strata corporations (i.e. greater than 12-20 units) to conduct these meetings without running afoul of various requirements within the Strata Property Act (SPA), most notably those around proper registration of attendees, privacy, counting of votes, calls for secret ballots, proxy tallying, amendments from the floor and more.  It is also quite clear that hosting a General Meeting via electronic means requires technical expertise that we are not in a position to provide at this time.  The Condominium Home Owners Association (CHOS) have assisted some of their members with the administration of electronic meetings and this has required upwards of three members of their staff. Property Managers do not have sophisticated networking equipment set up at home and rely on the same sort of equipment you likely have in yours. This is to say that it is generally reliable but sometimes computers do crash and WiFi does cut out (you have no doubt all experienced by now a virtual meeting where someone’s microphone or camera wasn’t working).  We are among the many firms looking to source/develop platforms to ensure strict compliance with the SPA but these are not yet available and thus we are discouraging our clients from hosting General Meetings electronically. If you intend to proceed with an electronic AGM, we will assist to the best of our abilities, but we do not have the technical expertise or personnel in place to ensure that these meetings run smoothly. As always, you can expect to rely on us to provide excellent advice with respect to Strata Corporation governance but we want to confirm that we are not qualified to provide technical advice.  CHOA has published several resources for Strata Corporations considering electronic General Meetings such as this article (which raises many questions about technical aspects, but not many answers) and this archived seminar along with presentation materials they prepared on the subject. We will continue to provide resources as they become available;
      • Hearings & Observers – Our friends at Clark Wilson published this helpful article which touches on many of the concerns above about General Meetings, but also discusses some of the implications of holding Council meetings online.  Observers, for example, should still be permitted to attend in the same manner as before (but perhaps consider the use of the “mute” button and turning off their camera).  Hearings can be conducted electronically as well, and your Property Manager can simply share the meeting invitation with prospective attendees to allow this to occur.  As administrator for the meeting, the PM can then remove the individual(s) to the “Waiting Room” for portions of the meeting they are not permitted to attend as observers.  Several hearings have already been conducted in this manner and it does work well, so Councils should feel confident when this sort of request comes up that it can be handled in largely the same manner as before COVID-19 moved meetings online.  One additional option Councils can consider when permitting observers is to require them to use the “dial-in” function, rather than video- this would ensure that Council members personal privacy is protected ie. observers cannot see Council members homes.

    Thank you for taking the time to review this information and again for all of your hard work on behalf of your Strata Corporations.


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  • COVID-19 (Coronavirus) – Update #10


    We hope that you are all enjoying a relaxing Victoria Day long weekend, and that some of you have begun to see family members and others that you have been separated from these past 2 months.  We write to you today with a number of important updates on COVID-19, our firm’s operations and your Strata Corporation:

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  • 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.

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  • 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.

    Stratawest Management


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  • COVID-19 (Coronavirus) – Update #7


    Dear Strata Councils,

    We’d like to provide you with the latest updates on COVID-19 and it’s impact on Strata Corporation operations:

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  • COVID-19 (Coronavirus) – Update #6


    Dear Strata Councils,

    It is hard to believe it’s been a month since our first email update to you. We’d like to begin this message by wishing all of you and your families the best possible holiday long weekend- whether you’re celebrating Easter, Passover, something else or nothing in particular.  We hope you’re able to rest and relax this weekend, perhaps even visit with friends and family (from a respectful social distance) and enjoy the beautiful weather here in the Lower Mainland.

    Some updates from us:

    • BC Housing – has released it’s Information Guide for Strata Housing. The Guide covers topics such as Council and Owner responsibilities during these unique times, difficulties Strata Managers may be facing with newly remote/limited workforces along with all of the additional COVID-19 related responsibilities, Privacy concerns (in particular, a reminder that the privacy of any ill individual must be protected) and more. We’ve also included a link to the National Collaborating Centre for Environmental Health (NCCEH)’s COVID-19 Precautions for Multi-Unit Residential Buildings where you’ll find information on cleaning and other precautions in multi-unit housing.
    • Insurance – continues to be a very challenging topic for many Strata Corporations, particularly those with renewals that have occurred recently or will occur in the near future. As we’ve written about on our blog, premiums and deductibles are seeing significant increases and Strata Corporations are being left with little choice but to either pass a special levy or borrow money from their Contingency Reserve Fund (CRF) in order to pay the new and higher premiums. Fortunately, and as noted on the BC Housing site, utilizing Section 98(3) of the Strata Property Act, the CRF can be accessed to pay for increased premiums. Of course, this doesn’t solve the medium term issue of how to ensure solvency for your Strata Corporation which, for most of our clients, involves increases to their budget at a time when that is all the more challenging for many Owners. We are involved in weekly discussions with BC Housing and other stakeholders on this and other major concerns, and we will provide more information soon on developments and potential solutions.
    • Gatherings are “off the table” – the Provincial Health Officer, Dr. Bonnie Henry, has publicly stated that “all gatherings are off the table” in BC. This has significant implications for Strata Corporations, especially as it is becoming clear that the current restrictions on gatherings are not going to be eased through the month of April and likely for several months beyond. We are working hard to develop alternatives to in-person meetings such as utilizing Zoom and Microsoft Teams for Strata Council meetings and employing Restricted Proxies to conduct Annual and Special General Meetings where appropriate. Your Property Manager will consult with you directly on the best options to ensure your Strata Council and Strata Corporation can continue to function during this crisis.
    • Warranties­ – though we were pleased to report in our previous update that the Province has suspended Limitation periods, no such change exists for 2/5/10 Warranty reporting deadlines as, according to government, there is no appetite for warranty providers to voluntarily extend deadlines. Because many warranty reviews require in-suite investigation, it’s more important than ever that Strata Corporations begin the inspection process early to ensure that the reports can be prepared and filed appropriately. Your Property Manager will provide you with guidance around warranty obligations. We ask that you please pay close attention to deadlines and provide us with instructions so we can get as much detail as possible to the warranty provider prior to the deadline to preserve the Strata Corporation’s claim (this could include filing less than full evidence on a concern that ‘may’ result in a defect in the future and noting COVID-19 constraints as hindering the collection of all required data).
    • Stratawest – our Property Managers are working from home on a nearly full time basis, with our administration and accounting teams working in split shifts and remotely to ensure adequate social distancing.  We, like most businesses fortunate enough to be operating, also have employees impacted directly by COVID-19. This situation has greatly affected normal workflows and reduced overall ‘bandwidth’, particularly in accounting. We have had to make some hard, on-the-fly decisions (such as cutting off Pre-Authorized Debit changes much earlier than normal in March) in order to prioritize more urgent work and some of these decisions cause unavoidable negative consequences. We sincerely apologize for the delays this situation creates in answering inquiries, especially those of a non-urgent day to day nature, but it is unavoidable under the circumstances. We are working harder than ever (7 days a week, in fact) to ensure that all crucial items (essential building maintenance, basic life safety system inspections, building emergencies/insurance claims/restoration, invoice payment, building staff payroll, financial statements, accounts receivable, etc.) are in hand and that urgent inquiries get addressed.

    We’re very appreciative to the many kind notes we’ve received from Strata Councils and Owners who have shown patience and expressed appreciation for the work we’re doing under very challenging circumstances. It is extraordinarily encouraging for all of us.

    We will continue to “push” updates via email directly to Strata Councils, and we encourage you to visit the COVID-19 section of our website. 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.

    Thank you for your continued support, and for everything you do on behalf of your Strata Corporations.



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  • COVID-19 (Coronavirus) – Update #5


    Since we last wrote to you, a number of developments have occurred that we would like to update you on:

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  • COVID-19 (Coronavirus) – Update #4


    It is clear this situation will require Strata Councils and Owners to be far more involved in the day-to-day operations of your Strata Corporation in order for things to run as well as possible under the circumstances and for the health and safety of everyone. There is more information to pass along that is easy to digest, so we continue to do what we can to prioritize and distill it for you.

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  • COVID-19 (Coronavirus) – Update #3


    The past week has been incredibly trying for all of us, but we are also extremely proud of what we have accomplished in such a short time as circumstances continue to shift rapidly. Below is an update that includes a summary of what you can continue to expect from our team as well as some action steps we would recommend that you take in the short-term.

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  • COVID-19 (Coronavirus) – Update #2


    We recognize that some of you are wrestling with important and urgent decisions around general meetings, pending CRT actions, finances and other items.  While we are preparing another memo to you on a variety of matters, we are trying not to inundate you with information all at once.  Below are a few links, and attached are a few documents, which directly address some of the questions we’ve been fielding. 

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  • COVID-19 (Coronavirus) – Update #1


    We will be posting updates based on information we receive from the authorities on any developments with COVID-19 that are relevant to Strata Corporations and our firm.  Below is our first update.

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  • COVID-19 (Coronavirus) Planning


    With the recent novel coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak, global populations are on alert causing reactions among general populations from lower risk countries including Canada.

    Currently, public health authorities in BC and Canada are not recommending testing or assessment for individuals who have not come into contact with someone showing symptoms.  This may change as the scope of the alert widens.

    For the immediate future and as a preliminary measure, we are asking clients and service providers to avoid visits to our office.

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