This has further changed now that the risk has increased and that there is a “ban” on gatherings of 50 or more people. Since I sent the below to Roger, I have now modified the advice to as follows:
Normally, the council likely does not have the authority to cancel a general meeting. Further, the SPA has no provision to extend the time for calling an AGM. At the same time, the federal government has recommended cancelling gatherings of more than 50 people. As such, council may have to or want to decide to cancel a general meeting. If that is the case, these are the potential consequences:
- If it is an AGM, the current budget continues and the council remains until the AGM can be called; and
- An owner can start a dispute at the CRT, which remains open at this time, for an order that the strata corporation call a meeting. Where the council can respond that the general meeting typically results in gatherings of more than 50 people, it is likely that the CRT would not force the strata corporation to call the general meeting. If the general meeting does not typically attract more than 50 people, then there likely needs to be some explanation why it would not make sense (i.e. social distancing is not possible in the meeting rooms that would be available, the demographic of the building is that there is a significant number are from a more vulnerable group. In the absence of an explanation, it is possible that the CRT could order a general meeting.
If the strata corporation has to hold the general meeting (and there should be very few circumstances where that would be the case at this point), there are a few options:
- Electronic attendance – This option has some drawbacks. First, the standard bylaws don’t allow for electronic meetings. So, it always remains open to challenge. However, again, given the reality of the current situation and the increasing restrictions, if this can be properly accommodated to allow all owners, who want it, access by electronic means, then you can proceed. There are free apps available (Zoom, Hangouts Meet (google), etc).
- Written waiver and consent resolution – If the meeting is not contentious but approvals are required (and the complex is smallish), then every owner (including co-owners) can sign a document that waives the requirement to hold a meeting and consent to the resolutions at that meeting. Because this requires everyone’s participation and unanimity, it is hard to achieve but possible for smaller complexes.
- Hold the meeting in a venue that can accommodate social distancing and enforce it at that meeting. If it can be outdoors, even better.
The reality is that business is not usual. Given the increasing risk of spread and the vulnerable members of our population, insisting on holding a general meeting is very risky and, in my view, should only be done when necessary for groups of less than 50 (and not at all for groups of 50 or more).
Keep well all of you.