Opinion: 'Charles in Burnaby’ says strata 'forcing' him to wear a mask. Good

Chris Campbell

People who live in single-family houses or ground-level townhouses have it much better than condo owners like myself when it comes to avoiding people during the COVID-19 pandemic.

For example, they don’t have to take an elevator that might have someone coming into it without your permission. I’ve had a couple of people in my building say, “I’m not waiting” in response to my polite request, forcing me to get off for this selfish folks.

Those in houses also don’t have to worry about strangers such as delivery drivers or people coming to view units during open houses on a daily basis.

There are plenty of examples of being forced to come into close contact with strangers, especially if your building’s lobby is small.

So, some buildings are stepping up messaging about wearing masks while on the common grounds.

“Charles in Burnaby” doesn’t like what his building has done. He contacted me to say his strata is “forcing” him to wear a mask when in the lobby, elevator or hallways and other common areas, such as underground parking.

“They’ve got these signs everywhere telling us we have to wear a mask,” Charles said. “I came home the other day and walked into the lobby without a mask and a couple of the (strata) council members go into my face about it. They said I couldn’t enter the building without a mask. I don’t think that’s fair. They can just keep their distance from me.”

I’ll start by saying that I think that it is good the strata is taking such action to get people to wear masks. It’s an important safety measure.

Having said that, I don’t see how strata council can prevent someone from entering a building they legally live in.

According to Charles, the strata has not actually passed a bylaw requiring masks to be worn in all common areas.

So while it’s good to want people to wear a mask, this seems to be a bad way to go about it. Charles should also get the message and wear a mask. From the lobby door and up the elevator and down a hallway to his unit would take probably two minutes? Hey, Chuck, I think you can handle wearing one that long for your own safety and the safety of everyone else.

Masks are encouraged by the B.C. government.

“Strata residents, strata council members, staff and others may want to wear non-medical masks in some situations,” reads a post on the province’s website regarding stratas and COVID-19 issues.

“Strata corporations have important responsibilities during COVID-19,” says the government. “Strata councils and strata residents need to be aware of and follow COVID-19 related orders and guidelines from the federal, provincial and municipal governments and health authorities … It is important for strata councils and strata owners to take steps to lower the risks from COVID-19 for residents and staff:

  • Some strata corporation activities may need to stop, e.g., closing non-essential facilities such as gyms and pools
  • Some strata corporation activities may need to change, e.g., holding strata council meetings electronically or by phone instead of in-person
  • Some activities need to be increased from previous levels, e.g., cleaning common areas and physical distancing
  • Some activities need to continue, e.g., paying strata fees and strata corporation bills; and performing necessary maintenance.”

“Physical distancing must also take into consideration the needs of vulnerable residents who may be depending on outside assistance,” reads the government post. “For example, people who are ill or those who are self-isolating to remain healthy will be relying on friends, family members, or delivery personnel to obtain necessary goods and avoid non-essential trips. Strata corporations should allow the delivery of goods in buildings to residents to support these physical distancing measures.”

So, there are a few thoughts on how to improve safety in apartments.

Follow Chris Campbell on Twitter @shinebox44.

© Burnaby Now

Popular Burnaby Now