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  • Natural Gas Shortages

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    Fortis BC is asking all natural gas customers, including Strata Corporation residents, to reduce their natural gas consumption this winter because of a shortage caused by reduced supply after a pipe rupture.

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  • The Legalization of Cannabis – and its Impact on Strata Corporations

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    With thanks to our friends at BFL Canada, here is a document they’ve prepared regarding the impacts of cannabis legalization on Strata Corporations and in particular, the potential insurance implications.

    We encourage everyone to review this brief but well written article.

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  • Smoke ‘Em If You’ve Got ‘Em

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    Marijuana legalization is now here.

    Most Strata Corporations will almost certainly notice an uptick in the number of complaints of a “nuisance”- the smell of marijuana.  What used to set marijuana apart from other smells (cigarettes, barbeques, cooking, untidy suites) was that it was illegal.  That’s no longer the case!

    Our good friends at Lesperance Mendes have put together a primer on the importance of taking complaints about smells seriously.  You can find that here:

    http://lmlaw.ca/2018/10/strata-alert-8-steps-every-strata-council-should-take-when-responding-to-a-smoking-complaint/

    There are many reasons that complaints about smoke (and other nuisances) can’t just be ignored out of hand.  We recommend that Councils faced with these sorts of ongoing issues form a small subcommittee to ensure that the investigative portion of Lesperance Mendes’ recommendations be enacted.

    Just because marijuana is now legal does not mean that people can smoke it with impunity- it can still be considered a nuisance, especially if the recipient of the unwanted second hand smoke pushes hard on the matter.

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  • Sip and Savour 2018 – In Support of BC Women’s Neonatal Intensive Care Unit

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    Stratawest Management is very proud to be the Champion Sponsor this year for Sip and Savour 2018 which is back for a third year!

    Sip and Savour is being held on November 19th at The Pipe Shop at the Shipyards in North Vancouver, with tastings from Vancouver’s top restaurants, bartenders, wineries, and breweries – all supporting BC Women’s Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (ICU).

    Sip and Savour arose from numpfer™ founder Sarah Robbin’s desire to give back to BC Women’s, after her daughter Charlotte spent her first three days of life in the Neonatal ICU.  Coincidentally, Stratawest president Cory Pettersen’s own daughter Alexandra also spent the first days of her life in the same unit and we are thrilled to be taking part in this worthy event in the name of all the families and children that may benefit from the same amazing level of care.

    The past two events were an incredible success, demonstrating the extraordinary power of community, and raising almost $100,000 for cutting edge equipment and resources for the tiniest patients in BC and their families in their time of need. Tamara Taggart will once again MC this incredible night where guests sample the best of the city- mouth-watering canapés and delicious beverages from BC’s best restaurants, bartenders, wineries and craft breweries, bid for items from the curated silent auction, and hear incredible stories of courage and hope.

    The 3rd Annual Sip and Savour will take place November 19, 2018 from 7 to 10 pm at The Pipe Shop, a stunning waterfront heritage building located in North Vancouver’s Shipyards District and there are still some tickets available!

    https://www.bcwomensfoundation.org/events/events/2018-11-19/sip-and-savour

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  • Legalization of Cannabis

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    The legalization of cannabis is on the immediate horizon and no one knows exactly what the ramifications will be for Strata Corporations. One thing is for certain, though- things are about to get a lot more complicated.

    A recent article in the CBC highlighted some of the potential problems that Strata Corporations will face. While this article is about a condo corporation in Toronto, it could very well be written about any BC Strata Corporation as well and certainly those articles will be forthcoming.

    We are witnessing more and more strife within Strata Corporations and the tug of war between advocates for marijuana and opponents is sure to be another battleground on which to fight and disagree.  There appears to be very little middle ground on the subject (and this is ignoring that cigarette smoke creates many of the same problems).

    Each Strata Corporation will have their own unique makeup, culture and personalities.  There will be no cookie cutter approach and our best advice is to consult with your Owners (through information sessions and surveys) on what they’d like to see happen.  Then, make sure to have lawyers draft appropriate bylaws to be placed in front of the Owners for approval.  We recommend having that same lawyer attend the General Meeting where the resolution(s) will be discussed so questions can be answered on the spot by someone with the expertise to handle this complex matter.  For example, at just about every General Meeting we’ve attended with a resolution on the floor to ban smoking (tobacco or otherwise) someone has asked “Can the Strata Corporation even do this?”.  It’s important to have a lawyer there to answer that question.

    We recommend starting this process now. Legalization is right around the corner and, while not everything is known about what that will look like, it’s not too early to get those bylaws implemented.  You will still face challenges to those bylaws, based on human rights concerns or others. Once again, the best advice we can offer is to refer all inquiries to legal counsel so as to limit the possibility that a decision a Strata Council makes is later found to be contrary to the various pieces of legislation that are all heading on a collision course for each other.

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  • Retroactive Strata Fees Deemed “Contrary” To The Strata Property Act

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    As more and more strata corporations have elected to hold their Annual General Meetings (AGM) after their year-end (within the 2 months permissible under the Strata Property Act [SPA], and sometimes even later) the issue of “retroactive” strata fees has become more controversial.

    A brief primer is probably helpful.

    The SPA allows for an AGM to be held anytime within 60 days of the year-end of a strata:

    Annual general meeting

    40     (1)The strata corporation must hold annual general meetings except as provided under section 41.

    (2)An annual general meeting must be held no later than 2 months after the strata corporation’s fiscal year end.

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  • How to Deal With Short-term Rentals: How About a $1,000 fine… Per Day?

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    We know that many of you have already read the news on this subject as our phones have been ringing this morning, trumpeting in the welcome arrival of some long overdue ammunition for those strata councils and ownership groups dealing with headaches related to AirBnB and other short-term rental platforms and vacation websites. Now, not all strata corporations are having an issue with short-term rentals and some of them are finding a way to co-exist quite nicely. Others are fully embracing short-term rentals through community decisions and bylaws specifically allowing for them.  However, for many of those dealing with the rapid turnover of short-term rental units where the individuals involved are concerned exclusively with generating revenue- showing little care for violations of established rules, the strata corporation bylaws, neighbours, security issues, noise and/or damage to common property- this (soon to arrive) new ability for strata councils to fine owners up to $1,000 A DAY for defying a strata corporation’s bylaws on short-term rentals is being met with significant enthusiasm.

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  • A Commentary On “Bargain” Management Fees

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    Tony Gioventu, one of the foremost experts in Strata issues in British Columbia, has written an article which we think is critical to understanding developments over the past 5-10 years in our industry.  You can find his article, entitled “‘Bargain’ Management Fees Need a Closer Look” here.

    To understand the broader context of why this topic is so important, we recommend referring to previous articles we’ve written on the critical shortage of labour in the Strata Management industry, as well as the increasing cost of doing business for Strata Corporations in light of minimum wage hikes.

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  • Approval, Authorization and Contracts

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    We are often asked by Strata Councils about some of the procedures we have put in place to ensure proper approval and authorization of work and then payment for that work.  Below you will find a brief primer on some of the important terms and concepts that drive our policies, and yours:

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  • Labour Shortages & Strata Management

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    Recently, a number of stories made the rounds regarding an open secret in the Strata Property Management world: that good labour is getting increasingly hard to find.  Business in Vancouver (BIV) published the following article https://biv.com/article/2018/02/shortage-metro-vancouver-strata-agents-worsening this month and the CBC’s take be found here.

    While there are some factors that are hitting every industry in BC and small business in particular (for example, the new payroll tax will be a very significant new $45k+ hit to our 30 person company in 2019), there are several that impact Strata Property Management more acutely than other businesses.  It’s no secret that minimum wage increases, the sky-rocketing cost of living in the greater Vancouver region and the demographic shift of baby-boomers retiring is exerting an overall upward pressure on wage costs.  While these problems are not unique to our industry, the resulting critical lack of capable strata licensees should be a grave concern to those living in or investing in strata corporations in BC.

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