In a move aimed at modernizing the Ontario Condominium Act, 1998, the government has approved amendments to allow for telephonic and electronic meetings for both directors and owners. The changes, outlined in Schedule 7 of the Less Red Tape, Stronger Economy Act, 2023, seek to enhance accessibility and streamline communication within condominium communities.
The amendments come into effect on October 1, 2023, except for Sections 1 to 12 and 14, which are effective immediately upon the Less Red Tape, Stronger Economy Act, 2023, receiving Royal Assent.
The key amendments include the addition of new definitions and provisions that explicitly recognize telephonic or electronic means of communication. Subsection 1 (1) of the Condominium Act, 1998, now defines "telephonic or electronic means" as any method utilizing telephones, electronic devices, or other technological means to transmit information or data.
For meetings involving directors, the notice must now provide instructions for attending and participating through telephonic or electronic means, including voting instructions. The general nature of the business to be discussed must also be stated. The revised Subsection 35 (3) emphasizes the importance of enabling directors to attend meetings through telephonic or electronic means, alongside in-person attendance, subject to any limitations specified in the by-laws.
Similar provisions have been extended to owners' meetings. The amendments in Section 45 of the Act allow for meetings of owners to be held entirely through telephonic or electronic means, as well as in-person attendance. The by-laws have been granted the authority to limit the manner of holding meetings and may specify additional requirements for conducting meetings via telephonic or electronic means.
Furthermore, the amendments bring changes to the provision of notices. Clause 47 (4) (c) and (5) (c) now permit notices to be sent to the owner's or mortgagee's electronic communication address, subject to by-laws and any additional requirements specified therein or in the regulations. Additionally, Section 54 of the Act simplifies the service of documents other than notices to owners or mortgagees, allowing them to be given electronically in accordance with the provisions of Subsection 47 (4) or (5).
To ensure effective participation, all persons entitled to attend a meeting of owners must have the ability to reasonably participate, regardless of the chosen method of communication. Those attending or casting votes through telephonic or electronic means will be deemed present for the purposes of the Condominium Act, 1998.
The amendments also address voting procedures. Subsection 52 (1) allows for votes to be conducted through telephonic or electronic means, in addition to in-person voting. By-laws may set limitations on the methods of voting and specify the requirements for holding votes using telephonic or electronic means.
These changes represent a significant step towards embracing modern communication technologies and facilitating greater participation and convenience for managers, vendor participants (auditors, lawyers, minute-takers, etc.), directors and owners, and is a welcome update for many key players in Ontario’s condominium community.
We can’t wait to see whether this focus on meeting convenience will result in increased participation, and improved involvement within condominium corporations!
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