A long time ago I attended a symposium that was aptly named, “Life at the Zoo”. It was similar to a moot court scenario for law students only it was an Annual General Meeting scenario for strata owners. CHOA hosted the event and lawyers from the Clark Wilson law firm facilitated it. It was an eye-opening experience. Why? The meeting was properly run.
Now I must admit a few of our swamp meetings were properly run because a lawyer was chair and those of us with a degree of intelligence appreciated the presence of strata authorities. Interestingly, at one AGM, the legal chair had to ask a few owners to leave because some owners just behave badly when they don’t understand all the words being used. Ironically, one of those individuals asked to leave an AGM for bad behaviour is now on Council. He has been for a number of years.
As readers know, my swamp Council now throws money at lawyers to intimidate the apathetic owner majority and stonewall knowledgeable owners so that Council can circumvent process. Oh and don’t forget those social gatherings which mean so much to the lemmings that live in the swamp. Bribery takes many forms….no?!
So Condo Smarts publishes a column about the perils of parking in a strata in today’s The Province (Sunday March 6, 2011). First, as always, I have to throw some swamp muck at any buyer who doesn’t research every document relevant to their purchase with a microscope….yup, it better be forensic. If you are discovering a parking problem after you have purchased, then what else haven’t you figured out about your strata complex? Just saying….
Anyway, I trusted the information relayed to me by the realtor who listed my place and sold it to me. It was my biggest mistake and one for which I kick myself each and every day – especially now! First, never trust dual agency and second never believe a realtor who tells you the complex is “well-run”. Determine “well-run” for yourself and remember a realtor working as a dual agent isn’t negotiating for you-realtor is negotiating for realtor! Turns out the property manager and inhabitants of the swamp when I moved in, went ahead and amended a bylaw without registering it. The bylaw was all about parking. The amended bylaw was not part of my disclosure statement.
The individual dwellings in my swamp each have two exclusive use parking areas. Plenty of parking but once the amended parking bylaw fiasco was properly registered, visitor parking became “first come first serve” for anyone: visitor and owner alike.
We have a center area. Owners are not allowed to park alongside this center area but they are allowed to park across their own carport. In this way they do not obstruct any other owner from accessing their carport or emergency vehicles who might require access. In addition, with owners using the extra parking, visitors needed to have some sort of proximity parking as well.
The little guy that behaves badly when he is shown up by a lawyer and makes rather spineless decisions as a Council member, flagrantly snubs his little nose at owners by parking his larger vehicle along the curb of the center area. Often his significant other parks their other vehicle across the carport rather than in it, effectively closing off the common property on that side of the center area in front of their unit.
Little man is also comfortable parking his vehicle in an area of the common property that is not allocated for parking because it is adjacent to garbage bins. Common sense would require the little fella to consider that his need to ensure a personified presence is indicative of other more delicate vulnerabilities having nothing to do really with other owners. But sadly, statistically little boys with stature and size issues seize upon replacements to stroke their fragile egos – in this case, a vehicle too large for the parking allotments of our strata corporation.
Did I tell you already this guy sits on Council? Yeah he does and I know other owners are not happy with his bylaw contravention but they say nothing because for some reason they are intimidated by this little guy overly obsessed with his size and well….he sits on Council. I guess on Council his vulnerabilites are dwarfed by his perception of power. Or….could it be that some owners might think he has an OJ temper and they are fearful? That’s probably it.
Needless to say, there is no point writing in and complaining about a bylaw contravention persistently and consistently allowed for by the other Council miscreants and the silence of the swamp.
Except of course when you’re an ogre with nothing to lose anyway.
Condo Smarts deserves kudos for walking the center line between gently chastizing owners who didn’t buy their strata unit fully informed and assuming volunteers on Council are a prudent, reasonable bunch. I’d ask Condo Smarts this question: What do you do when the only abusers of the Strata Property Act and corporation bylaws are the Council and how do you deal with owners who perpetuate the abuse because they have either real or imagined fear of reprisal so they don’t say a damned thing?
At the “Life at the Zoo” event, the speaker suggested living in a strata came down to an individual’s willingness and courage to navigate through the three strata perils:people,pets and parking. I find it interesting how those three pesky perils can personify strata life.