A greenthumb in your Strata

Welcome Spring with all the pollen, grass clippings, rain showers and owners who have been sitting on their green thumbs all winter.

You can sense the anticipation for earth fondling,  seed play and  fertilization that will culminate in blooms and foliage. Dare I suggest a cigarette to seal the deal?

Ah, yes the embarrassment of riches wrought by the greenspace harridans or, in my humble opinion, how limited and  common property hold no meaning once a sale and purchase agreement is signed.

Strata living is meant to be simple – really! I for one was attracted by the idea I would be able to pay a landscaper to mow lawns and trim hedges as well as weed and destroy moss. I carefully memorized the strata plan so I knew what areas were common and what areas were exclusively mine to use with limitations like balconies and patios. Imagine my dismay when a green thumb owner starts commandeering common property in order to satiate her need for foliage and buds.

Obsessive Green thumbs  have no business moving into a strata corporation. Why?

Green thumbs are, in my opinion the pimps of nature. Green thumbs, I believe, feel it is their universal right to beautify the land even land that is not entirely their own. Green thumbs take Common property and fondle its earth, tempt it with seeds and grand designs and then once they have fertilized it and watered it, claim it as their own.

Problem with all this nature woo and arousal is the fact that Common property is so named because it is shared by all owners and maintained by all owners. If all owners are paying to make additions to greenspace,  then all owners must have input. No one owner, regardless of intent or position on Council, should feel empowered to make decisions without the approval of the other owners. Afterall, strata fees are based upon unit entitlement not green entitlement.

The whole point of strata is commonality on the outside  and  individuality on the inside. Conflict created by misinterpretation of the strata plan together with ignorance about the  definitions of Common Property and Limited Common Property is enough to make one wish for 12 months of winter.

Only owners who are given permission to alter common property greenspace must maintain those areas and then again, the permission is reviewed on an annual basis. Landscapers must maintain all other common areas according to their contract. Unfortunately, landscapers serve at the discretion of the Council so interestingly enough, if a strata council member is the resident plant addict, strata boundaries can become lost in all the greenery.

Why must I suddenly maintain Common property I didn’t alter because others choose to do so even as I continue to pay a landscaper to maintain Common property?

While my particular strata council member takes over common property to assuage her need to garden and relax, I stare in wonder at the filthy siding, dark exterior light fixtures, uncleaned gutters and unpainted exterior trim – all of which is Common property I pay through fees to maintain.  Yet it is not being done. Flower planting has trumped structural maintenance. Something is very wrong…

Instead of paying landscapers not to maintain our common property, perhaps we should insist the greenthumb owners take over the landscaping contract responsibilities for gratis.Think of that win/win! Owners with a need to beautify can create and garden to their hearts content but I don’t have to pay for it.

When all the green thumbs move on to detached homes, who will pay for and clean up all the overgrown “gardens”?

I’d love to hear your thoughts on the issue.

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Posted in gardening
4 comments on “A greenthumb in your Strata
  1. Elise marie says:

    I too have this issue with taking over common property however 1 council member put a bicycle chain to lock a gate by a path to the playground by her unit so she could use it as a place to bathroom her 2 oversize dogs. Another council member removed all the plants from in front of her unit and sawed off the branches. It is a patch of dirt now so she may decorate it when holidays come…. Another council member eliminated a parking space to enlarge her back yard. It is truly unbelievable what people think they have a right to do. I am truly apalled.


  2. Shell Dawson says:

    Oh boy wish I had read this blog awhile back. A number of years ago I moved in with my elderly father living in a strata. He was a member of council, yard and hall weekly maintenance and handy fix it all guy. Yes he did charge for his time, but also paid for some materials and kicked in some free time, as it were, a wonderful volunteer. He kept to strict rules on what to do and what not to do without permission from council, and yes was taken for granted and it was ” assumed” all the work was his “job”, so far as to pay him less than half price of professional painters to paint the 17 unit building at age 76. Wow, that’s when I started to volunteer helping out, learned the rules, and when his health failed he retired from council and the maintenance contract. Thats when we got a “whole” new council. I was offered the contract. I accepted to clean halls, cut and rake grass and weed whack all the nasty areas, but declined building maintenance. Some new council members thought how wonderful to ” upgrade the yard”. Trees came out, black gold put in, rock gardens created and flowers, flowers and more flowers, 10,000 dollars later, there is a whole lot of extra work. Council agreed this should be a volunteer responsibility. The council member who wanted flowers, without approval, was going to care so lovingly for these lovely new curb appeal areas. Fast forward a few years, Dad is 81, yard happy council members have moved on, my back hurts, and strata is behind in building maintenance obligations and way over budget trying to cope with disaster after disaster. Yes I wish I had moved Dad to Calgary rather than myself moving to wonderful B.C.


    • stratalife says:

      Hi Shell:

      BC is a wonderful province. It’s true strata communities are a bloody mess, I cannot disagree with you. It is NEVER, EVER, EVER a good thing to volunteer for work that a corporation should pay for and it is NEVER, EVER, EVER a good thing to trust an individual’s interest in maintenance and accountability after an agenda has been met. People are self-serving Shell and strata is just the wrong arena for generous homeowners over paid professional contractors. A volunteer council with bully participants can be removed after 12 months. Your Dad put his generosity and willingness to serve to better use by participating on council. You tried to do the right thing. I understand exactly how you are feeling. Look forward, budget the money and hire paid professionals to serve the mandate of ALL owners, not one or two. Thank you for reading my blog and sharing your comments. Cheers, SQ


  3. Wendy Mac says:

    I am so with you on this! The well intentioned people who decide to ‘beautify’ the common area grounds, then move, applauding themselves for making their former home prettier, have a limited view of what they have done. They are pleasing themselves in the moment, and ignoring a future they will not be part of. In my building, ground floor council members believed it was their right to have the building gardeners go onto their 1st floor balconies to trim their trees, ivy, and bushes at the expense of all the owners! Has that practice stopped? Hopefully, but that info is now classified.


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