Strata Council Lifers

Strata corporations are political hotbeds and don’t listen to anyone or any entity that tells you different. They can get super hot if a couple of owners actually own the council – nothing will ever change unless it serves those particular council members.

Every council has a caricature of some newsworthy politician. Every strata corporation has cliques of owners who choose their representatives based largely upon perception rather than truth. Every strata corporation has one or two owners who actually know something, try to do the right thing but get shut down by spin and whispers over muffins and tea or wine, lots and lots of wine.

It is so easy to stick a bug in someone’s ear and have it turn into a magnificent malfeasance(Yeah, so what it’s a big word but I learned it in Grade 6). Strata crap goes viral really, really fast depending on the gossip train. Sometimes runaway trains can be stopped without too much damage but other times the damage is devastating.

Oftentimes a strata corporation will have a core group of owners who really like to control things for “the good of everyone” of course. Problem with a heavily supported core group? The heavy support is really not educated or willing to be educated about strata law, strata bylaws, or logic and common sense. Essentially, the heavy support amounts to a passive-aggressive majority present and accounted for at the Annual General Meeting. Just get a good seat at an AGM next time and watch the visible cues between present council members and their core. Pay attention to the timing of statements and even the lack of statements. Listen to how certain types of questions are raised and answered and others are raised but put down – I mean out and out PUT DOWN. Observe which particular council member deals with which particular topic.

A strata corporation with long serving members is not a good thing. It’s not a good thing in national politics so why small communities of people believe it’s a good thing is baffling. Yet, year after year the same people step forward and year after year they are unchallenged. The owners only know what they choose to know. The council cannot and should not be blamed for this. If a strata corporation has the same faces on council year after year – well that’s the fault of owners. No lawyer or association or tribunal will challenge an election outcome unless a law is compromised.

Owners have rights to most corporate documents because owners are the corporation. The S.P.A. provides owners with legal access save specific types of information and circumstances. It may take numerous visits to research and study it and money may have to be spent on copies. More research and study may be required but if it turns out the same faces serving on Council are contravening the legislation and/or bylaws and/or human rights and/or privacy, then one person with one voice can and should challenge those long serving council members.

Often, long serving members are unaware they are making mistakes because there has been no effort on their own part to stay on top of changes to the Strata Property Act,Privacy Act,Human Rights Act, etc. Often, long serving members are simply just as comfortable with the status quo as the owners who keep re-electing them. Often, long serving members are a little too comfortable with power and control and for this group it is best to keep the majority blissfully ignorant. Best to have lots of socials so council manipulation feels like individual thought before an AGM, or have meetings behind closed doors with owner lobbyists who like to pull strings without taking any heat.

The best advice for ANY strata owner out there is this: A collective requires everyone’s participation to succeed. A healthy strata will see all owners volunteering for a term or two as council members and then time as executive members. In this way all owners are contributing and the chances for a well run successful strata corporation are greater. It’s like any election where every voter votes and every citizen contributes – everyone’s a winner not just willing “lifers”.

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2 comments on “Strata Council Lifers
  1. Gwendolyn says:

    The word ‘team’ has become the term used by many organizations to suggest a cooperative group of people working together towards a common goal. Unfortunately, very few actually know how to create a team, and in my experience, stratas are too often a glaring example of what a team does not look like as people of all ages and gender vi to quietly (and sometimes not so quietly), assert personal agendas.
    An elected council does not mean the council was fairly elected. I’ve seen council presidents and their hand-picked council members use unsigned proxies to vote on issues and re-elect themselves – with the approval of the management company’s agent. Any one who speaks against the practice is subjected to bullying. And who has the $10,000+ to take it to court? Who wants to endure bullying for bringing the courts into ‘private building’ business? And those hand-picked council members often miss council meetings because they see no point in attending meetings in which the president refuses to abide by council voted-on decisions, but they would rather be part of a silent council and get the perks dished out by the bullying council president, such as free laundry, than be a powerless ‘owner.’
    As far as an owner having the right to inspect building documents… maybe in some stratas, but my experience, the management company and council have fun refusing access by saying permission needs to be granted by the other guy.
    Strata life where everyone participates is ideal, and usually idealistic. Too many people don’t like or want a team.
    My advice to people looking to buy into a strata…Do Not Buy A Strata…unless you like drama and headaches. Then you would fit right in.

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    • stratalife says:

      Thanks for your comment and for reading the blog. I understand your frustration and I believe I caught some disappointment as well.
      There is NO denying an owner access to strata corp records.
      The new tribunal will NOT cost as much as heading off to Supreme Court.
      Some strata have executives who try desperately to follow bylaws and legislation but are actually hobbled by the majority of owners under the spell of a few bullies.
      Sometimes the council itself is divisive but those same people remain on council because the other owners don’t want to play in an arena that resembles kindergarten.
      Sadly, we learn a great deal about each other once we are given some degree of community responsibility however temporarily.
      In the end it comes down to a few simple things: A strata is a collective and individuals MUST accept that; a strata is NOT the place for people to practice the illusion they do not have to participate in administration and governance without a cost. If you own property and a freestanding home, you pay taxes based upon your location, the size of your lot, and sometimes, the quality of your home. You are responsible for your maintenance and repairs and how you pay for them. Clearly most municipal homeowners don’t bother to vote so they do practice the illusion of my castle my kingdom until their wallets are negatively affected. As for drama and headaches—be the derelict property, or the hoarder, or the tree-cutter or the monster house developer or the commercial developer or the political activist or the busybody. It will happen everywhere no matter what you label it because people are at the root of it.
      Taking an active interest in your community is a necessary evil sometimes. I’ve sat on strata councils and I’ve battled strata councils. I have been bullied by my neighbours and treated like a non-entity.I created this blog to deal with my own disillusionment. I have been thanked and appreciated by people who say I have helped them help themselves.I have learned to take the good with the bad because that is life.Fighting so that every strata owner can actually enjoy the strata concept requires education and persistence and tenacity. As with everything, one battles misperceptions, misunderstandings and, well, willful ignorance, over time and – methodically. I hope you will take your anger and disappointment and turn it into an opportunity to join the fight.
      Cheers!
      SQ

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