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COMPLAINTS, COMPLAINTS, COMPLAINTS?

Are we at Huntly Wynd plagued with this problem?

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Strata Management – a New Beginning

With the events past now under the bridge, it is time to consider building a new perspective for the management of Huntly Wynd.

The question that comes to mind is this: Is there a better way to manage a strata corporation?

Just what are strata property management services*? Generally, a strata property manager provides assistance to a strata council (strata corporation) such as:

  • handling paperwork (record keeping)
  • overseeing a meeting
  • taking minutes
  • handling communications to and from owners
  • preparing budgets and financial statements
  • paying corporation bills
  • collecting strata fees or accounts receivables
  • entering into contracts and arranging services for the corporation such as insurance, landscaping, electrical services, maintenance, etc.
  • hiring and supervising employees hired by the strata corporation
  • providing emergency contacts and services

What the property manager CAN NOT do*:

  • be biased for or against an owner with respect to bylaws or rules contravention
  • determine if a person should be fined
  • determine the amount of the fine
  • determine if a person should be reprimanded for any reason, or
  • denied access to facilities
  • spend corporation money for general or specific expenses

(Note: *condensed from provisions of the BC Strata Property Act)

Next: How much are the services of a Strata Property Manager worth? According to statistics provided by the Real Estate Council of BC, property management services range from $25 to $40 per month per unit. In the case of HW, this means anywhere from $2,500 to $4,000 per month.

Are we getting our money’s worth having the services of a strata property manager? Do we have an alternative?

Let us answer the first question. Unfortunately, there are no existing measurements for evaluating the competency of strata property managers.

Our only recourse therefore is to use a rule of thumb: Has the management of the strata corporation (HW) been relatively and reasonably been below, at, or above expectations? If we are spending $30,000-$48,000 annually for all the services enumerated above, is it worth it?

And now for the 2nd question: Do we have an alternative? Of course, we do!

Routine monthly tasks include accounting, record keeping, processing receipts and disbursements as well as handling communications to and from owners. With an automated system, data processing, and online services, these tasks could be handled in a cinch – by a single person – part time. No rocket scientist required here.

In addition, we have in our midst, many owners whose professional expertise combine exceed all the skills necessary to oversee the operation and administration of a strata corporation. Does that give you some food for thought?

However, the idea of “self management” requires an entirely new paradigm. A new way of doing things. It means having a community that embraces the challenges and rewards of accomplishments. A community that excels in honest communication and mutual respect. A community that builds on the idea of neighbours helping neighbours. A community with a healthy social interaction.

Are all of these possible?

 

A Long Road to Reconciliation

Running the affairs of the strata is the least of the challenges of the three nominated members of the council. The greatest task ahead is restoring broken relationships. It may be easy to say, “Well, I don’t really give a damn about anybody or anything. Just don’t bother me”.

At last night’s Special General Meeting, no harsh words were exchanged. One of the most senior residents, Don Selman, chaired the meeting. Three nominees accepted their responsibilities to complete the terms of council members being replaced. Several owners declined their nomination to serve as council members.

The aura of calm last night was very deceptive. The events that preceded the SGM demonstrate the severity of injury to relationships. The disdain that enveloped every corner of the community hangs like a dark cloud above and may continue to prevail in spite of good people offering to “move forward from here“.

It does not help the situation any when venom continues to spew from a source that seem to be preoccupied with the exercise of feeblemindedness, idiocy, and the perception that some owners are evildoers that must be cast to hell. Lucifer masquerading as Gabriel with a sword to slay the infidels? Hmmmmmm.

The road to healing can not come from “hurt people”; it comes from “healed people”.

We need to come together and open our hearts to each other. We need to express our griefs. We need to seek understanding. We need to restore trust. In doing so, we restore safety and security in our community.

The three members of the council could be overwhelmed by the complex requirements of our community. They would need us to help them.

In order to accomplish this, there is a need to change how the council works. Close door meetings of the past created a perception of “eliteness” and power. If the council must be successful in its enormous challenge of rebuilding the “wounded spirit” of HW, it needs to open the door to anyone willing to volunteer assistance; conducting “close door” meetings only to deal with sensitive and critical private and legal matters.

 

HW – No Strata Council

For the first time in its history, HW does not have a strata council.

The mass resignation of strata council members is the culmination of a vicious attack against leadership, as well as unfounded allegations of misdeeds by individuals serving the council voluntarily.

This was preceded by petitioners calling for a Special General meeting to vote on two motions:

  1. To remove the strata president, and
  2. To elect to council a replacement

With this development, these motions have been rendered mute or invalid. (A) The president has resigned along with everyone on the council. (B) The 2nd motion is deficient since the strata corporation is now faced with nominating and electing an entirely new council.

This presents a very serious dilemma. With very little time between the resignation of the entire council and the timing of the SGM, the strata is placed at a critical point whereby unscrupulous individuals who may have been directly complicit with these series of events could essentially wrestle control of the strata to the detriment of majority of owners.

Under these very stressful circumstances, there is a need for calm and perhaps for grieving over what constitute very grave concerns. It is not a time to COME TO A VOTE. Not for anything. It is time for owners with great wisdom, and genuine concern for the future of the strata, to raise an alarm over all that is going on and gather all others to find a path to resolve conflicts, restore civility and mutual respect, and seek advice and support from dignified and well-respected members of the community.

IT IS NOT A TIME TO HOLD A SPECIAL GENERAL MEETING

Herewith is a general letter intended to be shared with all owners of HW:

HUNTLY WYND is wounded but not broken

Huntly Wynd was built to be a safe, secure, supportive, peaceful, and stimulating environment where owners enjoy healthy and clean surroundings, and a variety of facilities. Where neighbours demonstrate caring, dignity, and respect for all individuals.

The events of the last several months have led to severe, damaging, and unprecedented consequences: With the mass resignation of the entire members of the strata council, for the first time in its history, Huntly Wynd is left without an administrative body to help govern the complex requirements of our community.

As a result of the recent events within our community:

1) We are divided

2) Mutual respect amongst neighbours/owners has suffered

3) Hatred and mistrust have taken a stronghold over attitudes

4) Great discontent and anxiety prevails

5) Friendships have been fractured

The legal remedies for problems of strata governance are simple and contained within the provincial strata legislations.

Problems affecting social and interpersonal relationships, as well as community living are more complex to resolve. An environment where mutual respect is missing; where bullying is present in many forms; where prejudice and contempt is ever present; a community is reduced to a barren place, overcome by suspicion and injurious attitudes.

This is not what Huntly Wynd is all about.

Pledge of support for community ethics

Our rights in our community: to enjoy our wonderful natural settings; to live peacefully and safely within our homes; to enjoy the mutual respect and friendship of our neighbours; to enjoy access to wonderful resources and facilities.

Our responsibilities: to demonstrate commitment to community living; to demonstrate dignity and respect for all individuals; to be truthful and honest to each other; to consider the needs of others and balance them with our own; to respect not only our home but properties common to each other; to respect individuality and learn from our diversity; to contribute to an atmosphere of positive encouragement and mutual respect; to be prepared to learn from those around us and give others the respect and tolerance we expect in return.

If you agree with our premise of what Huntly Wynd is all about, join us and pledge your support for these community ethics by signing below against your name and strata unit. Let us move our community forward, united in spirit and in deed, to help mitigate, alleviate, or remove risks against HW.

Our community needs honorable, skillful, objective and respectable individuals willing to serve as leaders in these difficult times. Let us bring our hearts and minds together to help restore civility and mutual respect for each other.

A Better Approach to Problem Solving

The images in this page are known as perceptual illusions. They are pictures or objects that appear to have properties which are physically impossible, deceptive, or counterintuitive. Two people looking at these images may have an entirely different perspective. One may see an “old woman” and a “rabbit”. The other may think she is looking at a beautiful “young lady” and a “duck”. Yet they are looking at exactly the same images.

Mathematicians and scientists have an lengthy explanation on how the eye processes what it sees and sends information to the brain in order to come up with what “makes sense” about what a person ultimately “sees”.

This “optical illusion” explains what is going on at HW. One group sees “all the mess” that is going on. Another group wonders “what is all the fuss about”.

Disagreements arising from nothing but different perspectives could be deadly. They can create havoc that could linger for a long time. It could cause animosity and resentment that can ruin relationships. It could turn neighbours against each other.

Huffpost published this except about Dr. Steven Covey: “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Dr. Stephen Covey is one of my very favorite books. Part of Dr. Covey’s message (addressed in Habit 5: Seek First to Understand, Then to be Understood) is that people form opinions based on their own experiences. Unless they work hard to understand the other person’s perspective, two people can see the same thing and form completely different viewpoints because they are understanding “autobiographically.”

The decision to request an SGM is exactly the result of great disagreements about many issues which come from a series of miscommunications about intents and actions taken. And these come from “never seeing” the other’s perspective. It is seeking to be understoodNever seeking to understand.

The strongly and sternly worded allegations of the petition are exactly that.

What is the perceptual illusion at HW? Everyone is looking at the same image: Seeking to make Huntly Wynd a beautiful place. I bet that if we are to send out a poll as to which they’d rather have ([a] let clubhouse and facilities remain the same); or ([b] Update and make HW beautiful); majority would vote affirmatively (b).

So, let us attempt to bridge the gap of misunderstanding or disagreement by first accepting that the strata council and the owners have exactly the same objectives. Let us seek first to understand the other.

A good way to do this is perhaps to tackle the thorny issues of the 18 “significant events” that have taken place over the last several months:

  1. Was there an illegitimate use of CRF in upgrading gym facilities? Not if one were to take into account the motion passed during an earlier AGM. Judging from the usage of our gym facilities since the upgrade, there has been greater residents’ usage.
  2. Was there an intent by council to prejudice a resident’s right to web access? Creating a website is a work in progress. it begins with a “conceptual” design depending on purpose that could take months and years of IT work. It could run from a few dollars a month to several thousand dollars. (Is it a fair statement to say that none of the council members are IT experts?) HW’s use of new technology is at its infancy. Few companies with substantial financial resources employ interactive websites with audio/visual capabilities and large servers. A website for HW does not create income and it is at its infancy. Unless such a website could be proven to have economic benefits to the strata, a large commitment of funds towards it monthly and annual maintenance is difficult to justify.
  3. Again, this allegation is faulty as it is a case of two perspectives.  It is the same with…
  4. Information concerning insurance coverage for loss is in the interest of the strata council and the owners it represents to ascertain, negotiate, and put in place.
  5. Professional engineers rendering Depreciation reports act in accordance to the guidelines and requirements of the Strata Property Act and alleging “manipulation of financial data” is a serious offence. The purpose of the report is to assist the strata to “manage assets” and future contingencies. A strata council has the mandate to handle asset management diligently, and prioritize projects, in the interest of the entire corporation.
  6. The entire objective of upgrading HW facilities perhaps could have been handled with greater tack, efficiency, and diplomacy. This is a case of everyone wanting to do the same thing with everyone having a thousand different ideas.
  7. The same could be said for the “community feedback initiatives” of July 25. Good intentions resulted in polarizing the community rather than bringing it together. (Same objectives+different perspectives= big differences.)
  8. No comment – as this requires evidence for or against.
  9. Unfortunately, judging a “judgment to be poor” is very subjective and requires evidence of bias or prejudice.
  10. These are very judgmental statements and unfounded allegations stemming from personal biases. Those serving the council are also owners volunteering their personal time. If they lack management, procedural skills, or proficient understanding of Robert’s Rules of Order, they do not lack the desire to see HW’s value rise.
  11. See above.
  12. The task of managing a strata can be very demanding or very rewarding. A significant factor that influences this outcome is dependent on “effective communication” AND community spirit. In a “happy community”, volunteer work could be very rewarding. In a “disgruntled community”, it could be very dissatisfying, destructive, stressful, and hateful. Is there effective communication at HW? Are issues and concerns handled efficiently? Are residents happy or disgruntled? This is a case of which comes first: the chicken or the egg?
  13. Official documents and contracts are filed with the Property Manager and they are available on request.
  14. No comment.
  15. Seek first to understand, remember? See item #2. HW’s bylaws are in serious need of amendments so that issues like this do not become contentious and source of anger and disagreement that destroys cordial relationships. (So what if high tech security measures are taken! Good golly!)
  16. Seek first to understand! What is the purpose? To beautify the clubhouse, not to deface it or commit bylaw infractions. (Is this getting uglier?)
  17. No comment.
  18. Nag. Nag. Nag! Is it possible that committee work has been completed and reports submitted, thereby completing mandate?

SEEKING FIRST TO UNDERSTAND

Just as the images above demonstrate, two people seeing different things are neither right nor wrong.

The Petition for a Special General Meeting is CONFRONTATIONAL. It is disruptive and divisive. A better approach to problem solving requires better understanding devoid of anger, misgivings, and hurtful allegations.

Perhaps the motivation should be how to make things better. How to manage HW better. How to solicit skillful contributions better. How to be a better neighbour.

 

“How you livin? How you livin?”

Have you ever asked yourself this question? How you living?

Stop whatever it is you are thinking or doing. I have been doing that many times since moving into this community. How can I achieve a peaceful harmonious life in a “serene community like HW”?

At the beginning, I witnessed people in their cars driving by. They smiled. They waved. Ladies walking in the late afternoon with their family pets stopped and chatted. People at the gatehouse always said “Hello”, or waved residents in. Or out. And I thought to myself, what a wonderful, caring community this is!

That was several years ago. Today, I witness in dismay the nastiness that prevails. There is a movement to divide this community by assailing those devoting themselves unselfishly and voluntarily to serve others. By alleging wrongdoings. A very dark cloud of suspicion, negativism. disrespect, and contempt hover over what had been near paradise.

“How you livin”, folks? Living a life to make a difference, an impact, in your world?

When I heard Dr. Rick Rigby deliver his speech to graduates at a Texas University, I was moved into tears. He reminded me of my own father, whose life was filled with many miracles. “Live your life making a difference, anywhere, everywhere,” my dad always said to me. My Dad’s shoes were too big for me to fill.

If we are fortunate enough, a light may shine to enable us to live a better life. A miracle may occur that could change how we see the world.

Like many whose words of wisdom I have been fortunate to hear or read, Dr. Rigby’s speech below may help clear the dark clouds over HW.

I am happy to share it here again with you:

How you all living, folks?

 

A Need for Civility and Nobility

With the formal issuance of a notice dated October 4 concerning a Petition for a Special General Meeting to vote on two resolutions, along with several pages containing names, 35 signatures, and 18 points enumerating strata council misdeeds, the puzzle deepens.

The single overwhelming thought that comes to mind is this: “What is there to be gained by all of this?”

Are we living in a community whereby we are led and represented by insidious and deceptive volunteers with a grand motive to steal and deplete resources; connive with suppliers and providers for personal gain; sow dissent and discontent for sheer pleasure, or what?

An elaborate use of legalese and citation of BC Strata Bylaws is littered on every single point on the “Rationale for Owners’ Request” clearly in an effort not only to disregard hundreds of personal hours devoted by seven (7) volunteers to strata administration over the last 19 months; but most specifically to character assassinate. (By the way, the title is misleading. It should be titled “Rationale for 35 Owners’ Request“.)

A reader of these “anomalous” allegations could be led to believe in the inference that we are “led by  (council who are) a bunch of crooks”.

It is difficult to imagine all of the events of the last several months has become the impetus for a man/men/women in a crusader’s goodwill mission to save HW from an abysmal reign of mismanagement now in need of a Saviour!

But we should not be quick to come to a conclusion. We must assume that there is “a lot of goodwill and intent” in this drive to convince all neighbours that something like this is needed. Something like having “grievances” heard frequently. Or having Strata Bylaws minutely and critically observed so that volunteer council members must “tiptop through the tulips” before making any decision. So that decisions to tackle ongoing routine maintenance or required “asset management” tasks must go through the pinhole of a needle before being carried out. So that every council member must file an eligibility statement before being nominated to serve voluntarily and declare their skills in law, accounting, management, geothermal engineering, and financial statistics. So that governing the strata shall be free from Russian hackers and interference.

Let us have a strata council that frowns on and and fines people spitting on their lawns; on pet parrots being loud; on bicycle riders going more than 5 KPH. Maybe we should have “spies” everywhere looking for bylaws infractions and reporting them to a gestapo council.

Or maybe, just maybe, most of us have not yet succumbed to this erosion of civility and nobility. Many of us still believe in caring about others, especially our neighbours. Many of us still extend the hand of friendship as we wave when a neighbour drives by. We still believe in good manners. We abhor rudeness, crudeness, and harshness against fellow men/women.

What a barren world it would be living so close to each other in a small community when we suspect feelings of ill against one another. When we look at each other with dismay and disrespect. When we turn the other way when someone approaches. When all we care about is “me”, my selfish self. When we carry the attitude “I don’t use the clubhouse, why should I care about upgrading it?” A pastor writes: “The ten commandments are then in effect replaced by the single commandment, “Be good to yourself”. Where absolute standards no longer prevail, where divine authority has been expelled, reality disintegrates.”

There are seven (7) members of the council. In matters of nominal or great importance, they deliberate, discuss, obtain majority consensus. They consult other members of our community. No one, not even the president, has exclusive control over another .The council acts in unison. No one member is perfect. Not everything they do could ever please everyone. But there is one thing certain. With their relative and maybe nominal skills, they summon all their resources TOGETHER to tackle their responsibilities willingly and voluntarily – without compensation or benefit, except perhaps to see HW blossom into a beautiful environment.

This Petition is mean spirited, perverted, and full of vitriol. It promotes divisiveness. It destroys trust and confidence. It is devoid of goodness. It is a work of evil.

Wherein you reprove another, be unblamable yourself, for example is more prevalent than precepts.” By George Washington, 1st President of the US.

In a world of escalating violence, human folly, cruelty, and wickedness, to be exposed inside a small community to an act with no more than a malicious intent to harm, is very sad. Who in their right mind would consider volunteering for a job where you are barbecued crisp for any small misstep? Good luck HW!

Isn’t it about time for the majority with goodness of heart to rise up against a threat to the beautiful nature HW is known for?

Isn’t it about time for CIVILITY and NOBLENESS to prevail?

A lesson in nobility: