Racial Comments should be Dealt with Seriously

Gerry Hyman has another article for the Toronto Star.  Let’s look at the questions raised:

QUESTION:  What are my options, other than resigning from the board, for me to deal with continued racial slurs at board meetings?

ANSWER:  You might send written objections to the board and you could note that such conduct contravenes the code of conduct agreed to by the directors — if there is such a code. If necessary you could attempt to have 15 per cent or more of the owners submit a requisition for an owners’ meeting to discuss the problem.

Alternatively an owners’ meeting could be requisitioned for the purpose of a vote removing and replacing the offending directors.

Not only should the director be raising objections, especially in writing, I strongly believe that a complaint should be made to the Human Rights Tribunal.  There is absolutely no reason for the director to be accepting the racial comments under any situation.  The director may also wish to discuss the situation with a lawyer about any potential legal remedies to deal with the situation.

Another question raised was:

QUESTION:  Are audio recordings of condominium residents, such as recordings at annual meetings, legal?

ANSWER:  There is no statutory prohibition of recordings, including those taken at annual meetings — although a condominium’s documentation might restrict or prevent certain recordings.

The Supreme Court made findings in a criminal case that would appear to be relevant in non-criminal cases, i.e., that privacy is “freedom from unwanted scrutiny, intrusion or attention.” People will have a reasonable expectation of privacy when they reasonably expect not to be subject to a recording, even if the recording is being made in a public or semi-public place.

A determination might be made as to whether the subject agreed to the recording or was even aware that it was taking place.

I can understand a recording being made at the AGM in order for the Minute taker to record adequate Minutes of the meeting.  However, once the person is done with preparing a draft copy of the Minutes of the meeting then the recording should deleted.

Outside of making a recording at a meeting with the sole intention of producing the Minutes there is no need for the condominium to be making the recording.

Lastly, let’s discuss this question:

QUESTION:  Is it illegal for the condominium board to budget less for owners’ contributions to the reserve fund than the amounts specified in the reserve fund study?

ANSWER:  The condominium corporation is required to maintain a reserve fund that is sufficient, in accordance with the Condominium Act, to pay for major common element repairs and replacements for at least 30 years from the date of the study.

The amounts required from each owner each year will be set out in the study, which must be updated at intervals of not more than three years. The board, within 120 days of receiving a reserve fund study or update, must propose a plan for funding the reserve fund. If the board has reason to believe that factors exist that reasonably indicate that the owners’ contributions — as set out in the study — exceed the amounts required by the act, the plan may provide for lesser amounts.

The plan is not required to be identical to the recommendations in the study but within 15 days after proposing the plan the board must advise the owners of the areas in which the plan differs from the study.

The Engineer likely knows more than the Board about how much issues will cost in the future.  As such, the Board should be following the funding plan recommended by the Engineer.  Plus, a good Engineer will first provide a draft copy of the Reserve Fund Study/update so that the Board can provide feedback and raise any questions it may have.  Remember, the Board is required to ensure that the Reserve Fund is adequately funded, and the best way to do so is to make sure that is to follow the recommendations of the Engineer.  To put less money into the Reserve Fund will likely result in larger maintenance fee increases or special assessments down the road.  It is simply not worth the risk to do so.

If the Board truly believes that the Engineer’s funding plan is not adequate, or that the work required in the study can be done with smaller contributions to the Reserve Fund then what the Engineer is recommending, then the Board should obtain a second opinion from another Engineer to ensure that the Reserve Fund will be properly funded and that the property will be maintained.

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