Blog

  • The Impact of the Minimum Wage Increase on Strata Corporations

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    While we’re not usually keen political commentators, it hasn’t gone unnoticed by our firm that the government elected in 2017 has made several promises which will have a significant impact on Strata Corporations.  One of those, and the focus of this article, will be the promise to increase the Minimum Wage to $15/hour by 2021.  In September of 2017, the rate for Minimum Wage saw it’s first increase to $11.35 (from $10.85).

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  • The Seventh Annual Stratawest Christmas Toy Drive

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    With continued incredible support from our staff and industry colleagues alike, Stratawest is proud to have made significant contributions to the North Shore Christmas Bureau for the 7th year running and to Harvest Project in our second year of involvement with their fantastic program – extending a hand up, not just a hand out.  The response this year was again awe-inspiring, with amazingly generous donations of toys, clothing, thousands of dollars in gift cards, movie passes, and restaurant meals, sporting equipment – including 12 NEW bikes! – and sporting event tickets, iPods and many other items for needy families. Incredibly, there was far more than the picture shows as we had to make a number of trips over the past couple of weeks.

    We were also inspired to take part in Harvest Project’s Adopt A Family campaign to bring hope to North Shore families in need and on their way back to healthier lives. The staff and leadership of Stratawest believe it’s important to ‘give where we live’. Harvest Project is a local charity that supports over 350 families each month with coaching and counsel along with grocery and clothing support. On our goal of $2,400, we are thrilled to have raised (so far) over $3,100 which will help support a family for the coming year. Amazing!

    We want to sincerely thank and acknowledge the support of our colleagues in the industry and our staff for making this holiday season a better one for so many kids and their families. It is because of the participation and big hearts of many that we are collectively able to make a difference in so many lives, so thank you so much to those that took part and to the many others holding events of their own this holiday season.

    Season’s Greetings to all of you, and best wishes from all of us here at Stratawest Management. Cheers!

    P.S Shout out to James Wilson at Obsession Bikes and their 2017 Bikes for Tykes program in benefit of the North Shore Christmas Bureau for again handling delivery duties of the donated bikes. Merry Christmas guys!

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  • Disaster Planning Seminar

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    Occasionally, our clients will ask us for advice on planning for disasters (earthquakes, fires, terrorism, etc.).  We must admit that while we will always play a role in dealing with elements of a disaster, we are not experts in planning for one.  We usually refer our clients to professionals who have the expertise to provide diligent and thorough advice on steps a Strata Corporation can take to mitigate the risk and plan for significant calamities.

    For those interested, the Canadian Condominium Institute (CCI) is holding a seminar on Thursday November 16th, 2017 with exactly this sort of expert to provide just this sort of advice.

    Many of our clients are already members of CCI, and if you aren’t already this might prove to be a good opportunity to join.  If you are interested in attending, you can find more information here.

    More information on the general benefits of membership can be found here.

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  • Contracts, Contracts, Contracts

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    Condo Smarts is a regular read for many Property Managers and Strata Councils throughout the province.  The author, Tony Gioventu is also the Executive Director of the Condominium Home Owners Association (CHOA) of which we have been a proud member for many, many years.  He is well respected throughout the industry for his practical advice to Strata Councils on a variety of matters, including issues they might face when dealing with their Property Managers.

    Tony recently wrote an article on the importance of Council members reviewing and executing contracts.  We think this is important advice.  For the most part, Property Managers will enter into day to day agreements with Contractors (for example, it is not practical to ask a Council member to sign a work order asking an electrician to come and replace a burned out ballast).  Our Property Managers will habitually ask Council members, usually the President, to sign larger agreements (once they have been reviewed and approved by Council) such as ongoing contracts and those for substantial projects.  Contract awards should also be reflected in Council meeting minutes.  This serves as demonstration that the project is both authorized by Council and that the Council is aware of the specific terms of the agreement, not just what the quotation says.  This may be seen as a nuisance by some or ‘the Property Manager’s job’, but we do this to avoid the type of scenario described in Mr. Gioventu’s excellent article.

    Mr. Gioventu also makes a small comment about the importance of legal review of contracts before they are entered into.  This too is important advice, especially on larger/ongoing agreements which are binding on the Strata Corporation for lengthy periods of time and/or for large dollar amounts.  Our Property Manager’s are never a substitute for legal advice and Strata Councils should consider having contracts reviewed by qualified professionals to ensure the terms are fair and that they are consistent with what the Strata Council expects from quotations/proposals.

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  • Bylaw Reviews

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    We have written on other occasions about the need to ensure your Strata Corporation’s bylaws are thorough and enforceable.  That is best done by independent legal counsel, to ensure that they are consistent with current practices, the applicable legislation (Strata Property Act “SPA”, Personal Information Protection Act “PIPA”, the Human Rights Code, etc.) and recent case law.  

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  • Air BnB, Short-Term Rentals, Licenses to Occupy

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    Many of our clients are struggling with the relatively new phenomenon of short-term rentals within their Strata properties.  Over the past few years, new technological platforms and tools (Air BnB, VRBO, Homeaway, to name a few) have made it simple for homeowners to let out a portion of or all of their home to third parties.  We are Strata Property Managers so don’t profess to have any insightful commentary on the long-term implications of this element of the new “sharing economy” on broader elements of society, but there are impacts on Strata Corporations that have been felt and are likely to continue which are important to discuss.

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  • Short Term Rentals Supreme Court Decision

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    Our friends at Lesperance Mendes recently published an article summarizing a court case that has implications for the many Strata Corporations that are trying to eliminate short-term rentals (licenses to occupy) in Residential Strata Lots.

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  • New City of Vancouver Street Cleaning Utility Fee

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    Most of our City of Vancouver clients will be surprised to see a new “STREET CLEANING” fee appear on their annual utility bill.  The cost is $19 per Residential Strata Lot.  There was no formal announcement about this new fee, it simply appeared on the annual utility bill.  For some of our clients, this will represent a rather significant expenditure- reaching into the thousands of dollars for units of 50+.

    We received no advance notice of the new fee, nor did any Strata Corporations to our knowledge.  In other words, there was no opportunity to budget for it, so unfortunately the extra cost will simply have to be absorbed into existing operating budgets and included in future ones.

    Upon receiving the first of these invoices, we reached out to the City to express our concerns.  Below is their response and explanation on the new fee (note the absence of an apology/explanation for why it wasn’t announced in advance).  Also included is contact information for the City, for those interested in expressing feedback/dissatisfaction with the new fee or any other matter.

     

    Thank you for contacting the City of Vancouver.

    In an effort to reduce illegal dumping and create cleaner and safer public spaces, Council has approved investments in public realm cleanliness. These investments will be partially funded by a new Street Cleaning Utility fee which begins in 2017. Under Council’s direction, savings from the recycling transition to Multi-Material BC have been redirected to provide all residents with additional street cleaning services, with added support in high demand neighbourhoods where illegal dumping and cleanliness continue to be an issue. The Street Cleaning Utility fee is a cost effective option for the City to efficiently manage and reduce waste over the long term.

    Enhanced Street Cleaning Services

    -Large Item Collection Pilot Program which may accept mattresses, furniture and appliances; -Quicker response times to overflowing receptacles, illegal dumping or abandoned garbage (27 new staff added);

    -300 new litter receptacles added to hot spot and high-demand areas city-wide; -Added focus on litter and needle collection close to schools and residential areas (such as Strathcona, Kensington/Cedar Cottage and Grandview Woodland); -New recycling and waste diversion programs added to public spaces; -Increased enforcement through ticketing to address illegal dumping.

    If you require further assistance, please contact us at:

    3-1-1 (within Vancouver)

    604.873.7000 (outside Vancouver)

    We are open to take your call from 7:00 am to 10:00 pm, 7 days/week, 365 days/year (including holidays). We also offer interpretation services in over 170 languages.

    We invite you to visit our website for information on City online services, tools and mobile apps at: http://vancouver.ca/online-services

    You can also report an issue or request a service online at: http://vancouver.ca/vanconnect-desktop.aspx

     

     

    Regards,

     

    City of Vancouver

    3-1-1 Contact Centre

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  • Court Ordered Sale

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    In a follow up to our previous post regarding a Court Order requiring an Owner and his spouse to cease and desist particularly egregious behaviour, the Supreme Court has ordered that they sell their suite and depart within one month.

    You can read the ruling here.

    A CBC summary can be read here.

    Needless to say, the behaviour described in the ruling (which has only gotten worse since the original order) is somewhat unique.  While every Strata has it’s outliers, the sorts of actions described in the ruling on the part of the respondents isn’t your typical everyday nuisance resident. That being said, it’s important to be reminded of some of the steps that the Strata took which made the Court’s job relatively straight forward – documenting every complaint, sending letters, offering hearings, obtaining affidavits about the behavior, and probably most importantly, engaging legal counsel to provide advice and make applications to the Courts.

    When dealing with ongoing cases of nuisance behavior, we encourage all Strata Councils to ensure that the complaints are documented and legal counsel is engaged as soon as it becomes apparent that issuing fines is not going to be a sufficient remedy.

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  • Employee Harassment, Workplace Bullying & Strata Corporations

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    From time to time, we have the opportunity to review new Case Law in BC and across Canada through our membership with the Canadian Condominium Institute (CCI http://www.ccivancouver.ca ), and we are also forwarded interesting Decisions from other jurisdictions by our colleagues in the legal world when they believe it will be of interest. This one certainly fits that bill.

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