Dear Tony: Our strata corporation had a vote at a special general meeting to approve a $100,000 levy to redecorate our two lobbies.
Our strata is two buildings and 167 units in total. When the vote was taken, the chairman declared that the vote had passed and the meeting was terminated. Several owners asked for a secret ballot and requested an exact count, but the chairman refused to permit the secret ballot or take an exact count. Many owners are now challenging the details of the meeting and want to know if we can have this vote again. We barely made a quorum, with 61 units present, and have been advised that we can petition for a meeting to vote on this again. Could you please explain the procedures?
Dave M., Metro Vancouver
Dear Dave: If a strata corporation passes a three-quarter-vote resolution where less than 50 per cent of the owners vote in favour of the resolution, people who hold at least 25 per cent of the votes may, by written demand, require the strata to hold another general meeting within four weeks and re-vote on the resolution.
In your strata, there are 167 units and, even without an exact count of the votes, with only 61 units present, it is obvious that less than 50 per cent of the owners voted in favour of the resolution, opening the door for a reconsideration.
Twenty-five per cent, or 42 of your owners, could sign to demand another meeting to vote again. Under a reconsideration of a three-quarter vote, the demand must be made within one week of the first meeting, so it is important to have an exact count reported at the meeting or at least a report of the quorum present to calculate the requirements. This is not a vote to defeat the previous vote, it is a new vote and if it does not get three-quarters in favour it is defeated.
If the one-week period has passed, another option is to petition, by 20 per cent of the strata votes, for a special general meeting and have a three-quarter-vote resolution to defeat the previous resolution.
This is not a reconsideration of the vote. However, the strata corporation may, by three-quarter vote, consider cancelling the previous resolution.
Whether an exact count or secret ballot is required, if requested by an owner, is determined in the bylaws of each strata. The Standard Bylaws require a secret ballot if only one eligible voter requests a secret ballot. If an exact count is requested, the count must be announced by the chair and recorded in the minutes of the meeting.
Unfortunately, there are many strata corporations that have removed these provisions when they adopted new bylaw amendments, which may have left the control of the meeting entirely in the hands of the chairperson. To verify what bylaws apply, print the filed bylaws in the Land Title Registry and compare which are in effect, which have been repealed and whether any of the Standard Bylaws have been repealed or amended.
Dave’s strata has retained the Standard Bylaw 27, which requires a secret ballot and exact count if requested. With the Civil Resolution Tribunal on the horizon, strata corporations are going to experience much more scrutiny over their compliance with the Act, regulations and bylaws.
Tony Gioventu is executive director of the Condominium Home Owners’ Association.