I read an article today about the practice of interview trials which is an employer abuse of prospective employeesNorth Van teen complains of unpaid ‘trial shift’. The article quoted Mark Thompson defining the practice as “honest ignorance” and that naturally got me thinking about my strata council.
The Strata Property Act does require council members to behave in a manner that any other reasonable, prudent person would in similar circumstances. A council member should always be considering the good of the strata corporation over self interest and should manage the corporation business with care, diligence and skill. The Strata Property Act also provides council members act honestly and in good faith. As long as all this criteria is met, a council member cannot be held liable for any mistakes made while acting on council.
So then I read the term “honest ignorance” and I figure the government has given a specific group of owners within a strata corporation a very wide berth to infringe upon the rights of other owners under the auspices of volunteerism or “honest ignorance”.
All owners have a right and an obligation in my opinion to step up and participate on their Council. Problem is there are dishonest individuals mixed in with the honest ones in any community and sometimes those dishonest ones are so cunning and manipulative they are intimidating. Misery loves company and intimidation creates fear. So without even having to work too hard a bad bunch can create a fairly organized team. A bad team succeeds because like a cancer it seeps into an unprotected system insidiously hiding behind good people who choose to turn off their filters and let down their guard.
The Strata Property Act is supposed to protect against this sort of thing – on paper at least. Realtors and property managers have protected themselves against the honest ignorance of strata owners but no one is protecting strata owners from each other. Let me give you some examples of owners abusing the rights of other owners and disobeying the legislation.
My last Council did not elect from amongst themselves an executive. Doing so is a “must” according to the Act. The issue was brought to the attention of the property manager, the council and the corporation attorney. It was ignored. At this year’s AGM Council members were asked why they did not elect an executive over the course of their term. The answer could best be described as BS.
Last year two owners selling their units ran for Council. Apparently these two owners were elected to executive positions but Council never advised the corporation of their actual titles despite requests for the information. Anyway, these two owners sold their units within a few months and the four leftovers did not feel it was a requirement to follow the Act or the bylaws of our corporation and install an official executive. It seems after two months on council the outgoing members carried a big enough stick they couldn’t be replaced! The property manager must have had oral surgery at the same time he lost use of his hands because he neither spoke verbally nor in writing on the subject. What is interesting or disconcerting, is the fact the owners either accepted it or they just never bothered to read Minutes – probably a lot of both!!!
The Strata Property Act is clear about access to records. Section 35 is quite specific. If Council is honest and accountable, providing a summary of monthly finances should not be a problem. Rather than provide the documents, the Council paid an attorney to stonewall owners who exercised their right to ask for the information. Over months (not the 14 days prescribed by the Act) and in dribs and dregs, the odd financial statement would show up. I don’t know what readers would call that whole situation but I wouldn’t for one minute suggest it is “honest ignorance” of ethical, hardworking volunteers. What’s more a bunch of owners remaining mute on the subject could not be considered “honestly ignorant” as much as plain old ignorant….and choosing that stance is just stupid!
In order to protect their clique and keep their mismanagement underwraps it was necessary for the outgoing Council to be re-elected and to encourage like minds or, if you will, malleable minds to join the team. Every owner has the right to run for a position on Council and then the ownership gets to exercise its right to vote. The Strata Property Act stipulates a Council can consist of not less than three no more than seven council members.
This year, eight owners threw their hats in the ring:three sitting members, one who runs and then resigns every year, two new nominees and me. With eight nominees there is automatically an election right? Wrong. My resident neo-swamper stands up and barks, ” I don’t want —— on Council” , and without missing a beat, the sometimer nominee trills, “I second that.” No reason was given for the objection which is a little disingenuous of my fellow owners I think but then ignorance appears to be bliss in the swamp. The property manager calls for a vote but doesn’t bother to ask if there are objections to any of the other nominees or for that matter why I was objected too. How very democratic!!
I determined the exercise was rather discriminatory in practice and a whole lot of ignorant by nature but definitely not honest. Perhaps it was election tampering not reasonable, prudent, honest good faith behaviour. There is a name for it and the panzer driver who objected to my nomination fits the stereotype on so many levels it boggles the mind.
At one point the Council was asked to clarify certain budget line items. After saying a lot of nothing on the subject the matter was closed without resolve for some of us in the know.The silence of the majority was quite deafening – for a moment. Panzer guy, shoots off his mouth and fires off information he should not have had access to in an effort, I assume, to reinforce his diminished sense of importance, authority or both. More than likely he was just following instructions doing Council’s dirty work so they could all look suitably diligent and sincere.The Property Manager does nothing and the other owners sit silent. That’s not “honest ignorance” that’s manipulation and fear-mongering.
This may sound a little strange but I actually consider it almost positive that such “reasonable”, “prudent”, “diligent”, “careful” neighbours are so “principled” they’d resort to such blatant and corrupt measures to keep me off Council. They must know I could never stomach being”honestly ignorant” …..