Updated: Feb 19
We’re continuing to summarize a session from ACMO-CCI’s Condo Conference (2022). “State of the Industry: Still Going Viral” dealt with a handful of impactful and interesting topics, such as: board meetings, licensing, staffing of managers, the Condo Authority Tribunal (CAT), and the impact of increasing costs. For this bite-sized insight, we’ll be looking at how meetings have evolved post-Covid, and their impact on managers and condominiums.
This session was moderated by Tania Haluk (Vice President of Operations at Wilson Blanchard Management) with panelists Rob Mullin (Solicitor at SV Law), Murray Johnson (Vice President of Client Operations at Crossbridge Condominium Services), and Stacey Kurck (Vice President of Client Engagement & Business Development at FirstService Residential Ontario).
At the very start of this session, the panelists quickly confirmed what many managers had been feeling: overworked, burned out, and further boggled down by AGMs and Board Meetings. During the pandemic, virtual meetings were required and quickly became the “new norm”. Now that restrictions have been fully lifted, many are looking forward to getting back to the (old?) norm, which seems to include looking back towards in-person meetings... but is this always the right move?
It is important to note that the “Government of Ontario has made regulatory amendments under [the Act], which extend the effective period of temporary legislative provisions permitting condominium corporations to call and hold meetings virtually without the need for a by-law. The effective period of these temporary legislative provisions has now been extended to September 30, 2021. The ministry continues to explore potential comprehensive permanent changes under the Act that better reflect the digital age and allow for broader participation”(as stated by CondoVoter, a popular online voting platform used across condos for owner’s meetings).
Broader participation via virtual is something that Boards should keep in mind, Rob noted, as all (except one, which was poorly planned) of the virtual meetings that he attended received quorum (which eliminates costly rescheduling of meetings). There are several benefits to virtual AGM/owner’s meetings, including:
Increased likelihood of achieving quorum on the first try due to increased convenience and participation for residents,
Lower costs (no need to rent an event space, related equipment, and provide refreshments. Additionally, there are now often additional charges for minute-takers to attend in-person meetings),
Easier to book Auditors who can pop in and out of virtual meetings throughout the day and evening, and
More consideration for managers, who are often heavily involved in setting up and taking down the rooms for AGMs/owners meetings.
Rob also cautioned against hybrid meetings, which the panelists agreed are not yet working at the optimal level that they should be. Instead (for those who are still wanting to host in-person meetings), Murray suggested using proxies and live-streaming the meeting for owners who are not able to attend in-person.
Further, the panelists also discussed the importance of being mindful towards managers when planning regular board meetings, and being considerate of whether it’s actually necessary to conduct these in-person. Just like AGMs, managers are often expected to hang back after a full workday, set up for board meetings, lead these meetings and clean up after them, followed by closing the office and drive home - all while usually either wired or completely exhausted - before starting a new day at the regularly scheduled office hours.
Allowing the manager to participate in a virtual meeting means they can leave the office on time and be with their families before and after the meeting, which reduces the brunt of additional workload and risk of burnout - something that’s affecting many managers and the long-term retention, especially for on-site staff.
The main message of this topic was clear: the staffing atmosphere is changing and boards (as well as property management companies) need to keep up.
The same session discussed staffing and many important observations and repercussions of the current staffing state, as well as predictions for the future. Stacey noted the ratio of 4 licensed and active property managers for every corporation in Ontario (which is enough to get you thinking about how much of a manager’s market it already was), but joined with increased burnout and the many more skyrocketing condos coming up, the collective condo industry must start taking a stand to ensure that property managers are retained and upcoming managers can be inspired and engaged.
Boards and companies interested in retaining staff may want to consider adding more flexibility (something that many staff members have identified as important to them via extensive polling) as a simple and cost-effective way of doing so - and considering how to host AGMs and Board Meetings going forward just may be the perfect first step.
We look forward to seeing how all the corporations, clients and companies out there find an effective and considerate solution for everyone!