Condo Smarts: Sound planning ensures smooth virtual meetings

Dear Tony: Last year, our strata successfully used Zoom for our AGM, with roughly 100 people attending by computer, tablet and phone. We used the “raise hand” system for voting, and the meeting went quite smoothly (after a lot of preparation).

Last year’s AGM was relatively simple in regards to issues and new board members (added by acclimation). I am concerned that there may be more issues at this year’s AGM, and wonder if you will be doing a column on software for handling advance registration, voting and other AGM tasks.

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I attended a couple of large company Zoom AGMs and admired the way a dedicated software platform helped the meeting to run smoothly and report in real time. I’m curious if you have heard of any software vendors targeting AGMs for the smaller residential-building market.

Stephen Wittman, Vancouver

There are several platforms and services available to the public, such as Skype, Microsoft Teams, Google Meetings and Zoom. CHOA has test-run other platforms that claim to have the solutions, but they are either too costly or do not provide any better services.

The challenges for most platforms are the same. How do we integrate the use of the format with the requirements of the Strata Property Act and bylaws of each strata corporation for registration, proxies and voting?

For this reason, many strata corporations and management companies have attempted to impose a “restricted proxy only” meeting format on their owners, but this does not comply with the provisions of the act or bylaws of each corporation, and the results of your meeting will be nullified if challenged in the Civil Resolution Tribunal. A proxy can only be restricted or limited by an owner, which imposes an obligation on the proxy holder to follow those instructions or restrictions.

If a general meeting is convened, notice must still be issued in the same format, with written notice to each strata lot, or notice by email if the owner has consented to that. You also have to consider the agenda, methods of registration and certification of proxies, how voting cards are issued or recognized, either physically or virtually, and how you will conduct each vote.

I have chaired Zoom meetings in 2020 with more than 300 strata-owner and proxy participants with great success. However, as you indicate, it is a result of sound planning, as well as a good partnerships with the strata council and property manager to ensure everyone is playing a vital role.

Registration is quick if the registration list is cross-referenced by strata lot/owner name/unit number, and as each person registers, their strata lot or unit number replaces their name on the identity.

This also enables the chairperson to allocate the correct number of votes per unit if there are non-residential units or individuals representing several proxies.

Polling for resolutions is functional, but it does not identify a person with multiple votes, fractional votes or multiple proxies.

The Pro Version of most platforms provides advanced features, such as polling showing the chairperson or scrutineers who is voting and their voting results. Depending on the size of your strata corporation and complexity of your bylaws, this may be necessary.

Using a participant-recognized response with a thumbs up or down is an easy method of dispensing with procedural items, and also identifies who is voting on each resolution, which enables the chairperson to calculate voting results.

Generally, for majority votes, these methods are easy to manage. The complications arise when an eligible voter requests a precise count, or you are approving a ¾ vote, 80% vote or unanimous vote (100% of owners ).

For accuracy, and to be able to defend the voting method and results, a ballot that can be emailed at the time the vote is taken or an electronic audit where a copy of the results is maintained is your best solution.

Don’t forget that when you send your notice, you must include the electronic address in the notice package. You cannot send it out the week before or post the notice and meeting to an electronic bulletin board. Each owner must receive direct notice of the meeting.

Hopefully, at some point this year, we will see the end of emergency orders. Once this happens, there will be a short window afterward when electronic meetings are still permitted.

When that period expires, it will be up to each strata corporation to adopt a bylaw that permits electronic meetings. As you plan meetings this year, a bylaw that permits electronic meetings and addresses the voting and registry procedures would be prudent if your strata corporation wants to continue with the option of electronic general meetings.

Tony Gioventu is executive director of the Condominium Home Owners Association.

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