It would seem my swamp is not as special as I originally thought because readers are asking questions I surmised were only my domain. On the one hand I feel less alone but on the other I am disappointed! That’s right, disappointed.
My corporation has been mired in a building remediation project for years. The work was necessary and urgent but owners back then resisted any attempts to address the problem and I mean resisted!
What a difference a few years make.The remediation work was eventually agreed to and completed. Some owners presently on council also controlled the Council during the remediation project. While scaffolding was up and tarpaulins ruled the day, these owners strutted about the complex as though they were glamorous birds impressing owners. A closer look behind the scenes of course would show the peacocks had simply glued on painted seagull feathers to their back ends for superficial appearances.
In all that time the Council has been unwilling to answer direct questions about the status of the project or even the final accounting. Particular council members took on the task of overseeing the project despite protests from some owners and expensive legal advice (more unauthorized spending that went no where) As executive members of the council they were perceived, I guess, to be experienced in project management. Only two of us questioned that decision.
Where is all this going? Okay. Our corporation apparently owes money to the contractor. In simple terms the completed remediation project is over budget! Council acknowledges the same in its minutes but refuses to discuss it directly with owners who bother to ask for financial disclosure. The other owners sit on their thumbs because “if we don’t ask, we can exist in a blissful state of denial – pass the wine”.
So, avoidance and denial on the part of the majority of owners, allows my corporation to hold its AGM outside the requirements of the Strata Property Act. At the AGM the fact that legal entities are involved apparently gives Council no other choice but to remain silent for “privacy reasons”. Avoidance and denial lets that one slip by as well. Since the AGM the Council has met only once and again avoided dealing with the pesky misinformation they were perpetuating with their silence by offloading discourse to the lawyers. Obviously questioning time frames would require some effort on the part of owners. Wishful thinking! Subsequently,Council is now nine months into their term with one meeting under their belt and nothing with regard to the legal issue between the corporation and the contractor. Ostensibly of course owners believe the council is taking care of their interests so there is no need to question anything. Avoidance and denial taken together is a strata owner barbituate!
What’s an owner to do in this case? I’ll tell you what I did:
1) Write to Council and property management for financial statements. Result: IGNORED
2)Write to Council and property management and ask for information about the project specifically. Result: IGNORED
3)Write to corporation attorney and ask for information. Result:IGNORED
4)Try to secure a seat on Council in order to participate in the process. Result: DENIED A NOMINATION AT THE AGM
5)Speak directly with the contractor. Result: Council is not informing the corporation about what is really going on.
6)Pour through case studies, The Condo Manual, The Strata Property Act. Result: Become a one person activist because I’m not just a dumb owner afterall.
So now what?
I send lots of paper. Council and property management HATE paper but they encourage it by their ignorance….er, brilliant leadership. The thing about unanswered written requests is that there is a large paper trail that exposes the incompetence and ineptitude of the council and its management for all to see.
Point I’m trying to share here is this: DO NOT GIVE UP! The recent sycophant hymn to BC strata owners by Rich Coleman means that strata issues are not dealt with and that persistent,albeit frustrated, voices are causing echos in the hallowed halls of the BC legislature. The government’s excuse for ignoring strata issues – control freak leader exercising his tyranny -is now licking his ego in private. Now is the time to YELL for change. Can you imagine how noisy the legislature will be with all those strata issues clamoring for attention?
Strata owners, put pen to paper or fingers to keyboard and release your inner activist. It will lead to change!
Strata Councils are made up of volunteers with personal agendas just as much as volunteers with genuine intentions. The trick is knowing the difference.Strata owners must understand that they control the Council and if the Council is not doing its job – get rid of them; don’t sit wringing your hands about the unfairness of it all. It is time corporations lay down some basic requirements for Council positions or determine that governance must have third party accountability. Property managers need to rethink their “money for nothing” stance and be part of some positive change for all of us.This would require a meeting of the minds. I’m in……are you?