Are we at Huntly Wynd plagued with this problem?
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:
- To remove the strata president, and
- 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.
What has been happening in this “beautiful community” is very difficult to fathom.
What describes an act that solicits to remove a person from voluntary service to the council with less than three months to serve on her term?
To answer this question required some meticulous search for an apt description of such deed. To be precise, this is not a condemnation of a person, or group of persons, but rather an evaluation of the act that “intends to harm” and/or “diminishes goodness”.
Quoting a Christian apologist Greg Kouki, he wrote: “Human freedom was used in such a way as to diminish goodness in the world, and that dimunition, that lack of goodness, that is what we call evil.”
Essentially, therefore, evil is a “lack of goodness”. In the article read, the author continues: “Moral evil is wrong done to others, and it can exist even when unaccompanied by external action. What comes out of a person is what defiles them. For it is from within, out of a person’s heart, that evil thoughts come.”
With all that is now happening everywhere in the world: the senseless killing of innocent people in Las Vegas; the genocide of Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar; the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction; has the spread of evil crept into this community? Is this the work of the ghosts of the past?
All of this is incongruent to the beautiful nature and people that this community has been built. It is a mind-boggling revelation.
And the consequences are scary: In Psalm 34:21, it is written, “Evil shall slay the wicked and they that hate the righteous shall be desolate.”
Let us hope and pray that goodness returns to HW; that the ghosts of the past embrace and welcome the arrival of new, young, warm, and wonderful people with fresh ideas from which this community can thrive well past our lifetime. Isn’t it about time we all demonstrate how much we love our community and respect each other instead?
In this morning’s paper, Tony Gioventu, Executive Director for the Condominium Home Owners’ Association (CHOA), responded to a inquiry. Something he wrote struck a note. In 2016, CHOA did a survey of 16 buildings in Vancouver to identify impact on housing affordability, occupancy and rental bylaws. Here is a quote from his response:
“A 2017 update of the data has not indicated any substantial shift in the data, but there is one significant impact that several strata councils identified. By maintaining their rental bylaws, they have built communities with lower transiency in both tenancy and ownership and have been capable of maintaining the integrity of the nature of their communities.“
Our community comprises of individual townhouses. It is not a multi-storey apartment building where “rental bylaws” impact residency, turnover, and speculative investing, (Rental restrictions have not been an issue with us.) But the highlighted statement above, interestingly, describes HW to a “t”: Since inception in 1978 (41 years ago) HW has successfully “maintained the integrity of the nature of our community“.
Nonetheless, the events at the last Special General meeting deserve some evaluation and of course, so goes the title: “What now, my love?”
Last February 22, I wrote about Embracing the Process of Change and what it takes to succeed with goals and objectives, quoting Harvard Business Review resources. The chart illustrating The Change Process is again shown below.
The short question to ask therefore is, “Where are we now?” What did we learn from what took place last August 30th? How far ahead are we today after so much hard work by several members of our community and members of our council during the last six months? Where does all this take us? Have we become victims of the “Ghosts of the past”?
Here is re-quoting Rosabeth Moss Kanter’s words from the article she wrote in the HBR:
- “The ghosts of the past are always lying in wait to haunt us. As long as everything is steady state, they remain out of sight. But the minute you need cooperation for something new or different, the ghosts spring into action. Old wounds reopen, historic resentments are remembered — sometimes going back many generations. Leaders should consider gestures to heal the past before sailing into the future.
Socrates had this to say:
Examining what took place since the new council began their tenure and up to this minute, and looking at the “timeline” above (The Change Process chart), where are we today?
More importantly, considering the majority consensus we delivered at the SGM, are we much better off today than we were 5 years ago? 10? 20 years? 41 years ago? If this consensus takes us to an “old” status quo, what bright prospects are there to look forward to years from now?
The issue we voted upon on August 30th is not about changing carpets, replacing window coverings, modernizing furniture and fixtures, or solving the problem of moods and mildew at the pool, etc. It is about ASSET MANAGEMENT. It is about VALUE MAXIMIZATION and CONTINUOUS IMPROVEMENT. Asset management is about identifying the impact of the total life-cycle cost of an asset and about considering what is crucial to sustaining and improving its value. It is about provisioning for future contingencies that impacts its usage and longevity.
In the overall context, it is about maximizing the value of our community, now and into the future.
Over the last 6 years, we paid more than $6000 for engineers to assist us in ASSET MANAGEMENT Planning (by rendering Depreciation Reports). Their recommendations are supported by financial statistics. Although we may not take everything they suggest at face value, one item that can not be disputed is this: At their present state, the objects (clubhouse/guest house facilities) of the motions at the last SGM are in very poor state. They are 41 years old! They are not in keeping with the “integrity and (beautiful) nature of our community”.
I ask all 51 objectors this: If the facilities were your home, would you live in them at the state they are in? Would you be happy living there another 5, 10 years?
If you renovated and updated your home and it cost you $100,000 to do it 10 years ago, how much more would it cost you to do the same thing in 2017? 2027?
TENANCY and HOW it Impacts a community
We have a community of long-time dwellers and a very low rate of ownership turnover. However, our community cannot be sustained forever by an aging population. An unselfish community perspective must accept that like it or not, we will all be supplanted in the future by a new generation of owners. Actually, they are here now, trickling slowly to be among us. Who they are or will be will impact our enjoyment of our community for the rest of the years of our lives.
If we are selfish, cold, and unfriendly, so will they. “Birds of the same feather flock together.” Those who do not belong will eventually leave.
Our conduct and demeanour determine who and what kind of people we are. Unwittingly, we either become victims or beneficiaries of the way we handle our affairs and respect each other.
It appears that there are some “interesting” developments in the horizon. The current property manager at HW issued a notice for the annual general meeting for the community to be held (Monday) February 27, 2017 at 7:00 pm.
On the agenda, five (5) major motions will require consensus (majority vote). Of these motions, items 3, 4, and 5 would require capital expenditures. In essence, anything that has to do with infrastructures, regardless of sources of funding, always receives great amount of care, attention, and disagreement – before, during, and after deliberations.
Having been a critic of prior councils, I didn’t think I could be so complementary to the hard and complex work the present council has carried out to commence the process of positive change at HW. However, it is a “guarded optimism” as history will bare that major changes are not always embraced with open arms at HW.
Nonetheless, it would be a travesty not to recognize that “unpaid council volunteers” have done their best to come up with well researched and recommended changes.
ABOUT THE DEPRECIATION REPORT
We have a lot of talented residents here at HW, but I am not sure we have qualified professional geo-thermal engineers and geotechnical engineering experts with Building Science Specialist accreditations to assist in expertly evaluating our waterway system and other infrastructures to offer us guidance. Hence, the Depreciation Report.
By the way, let us not be overly confident and significantly solely reliant on the Normac Depreciation Report moving forward.
Let’s face it. Read the covering letter of the DR which I hereby quote verbatim:
“The purpose of the Report is to provide the Strata with a planning tool to help them make informed decisions about managing the renewal of common property assets and facilitate funding predictable capital replacement. The Report is not intended to accurately predict the failure of building systems.”
If this were an independent Auditing or Accounting Report, it would be of very little value since it is “qualified”.
While the authors of the report have accreditations as Certified Reserve Planners and Chartered Business Valuators, they admitted at their presentation that they prepared their evaluation based on “visual observation” of the assets. (Refer also to each one of the attachments in the DR under “VISUAL REVIEW”.)
Hence, they “cover their butts” so to speak by way of the “qualified” statement (above) and protect themselves through their company’s Errors and Omissions Insurance.
WHY IS THIS A CRITICAL CONSIDERATION?
What does this mean to the layman? In effect, they are saying (through the DR) that they have obediently “complied with (the minimum requirements) of Sec 94 of the Strata Property Act” (put into effect in 2010 in BC). There is nothing wrong with that!
The problem of course, is that when the council uses the “presented recommendations” of the DR as the sole basis for recommending changes (motions #3-#5), strata owners are presented with a limited perspective. Granted, there is a lot of merit in favor of a positive consensus for all of them.
However, if proper evaluation of the present state of HW infrastructures was prepared by highly qualified geothermal and geotechnical engineers, several things could change: life span of assets; date of replacement; estimated costs; and most importantly, CRF funding projections, and strata maintenance fees.
So what are we supposed to do now? In spite of the DR’s inadequacy in this regard, there are many good reasons to support the motions:
- The contemplated upgrading of amenities can boost the value of HW and its units.
- The life span of these assets is greatly improved
- Enjoyment of the facilities by residents is greatly increased
- Social interaction is enhanced
- Proposed expenditure relating to ponds, streams, fences, is in line with proper maintenance and efficient management of assets
- The current yearly allocation to CRF is $52,000; it means that in about 4 years the estimated funding (from CRF) of $200,000 is replenished, or exceeded (if a surplus from budget is recorded)
- Due to the global uncertainty about trade (with the US President’s focus on realigning and renegotiating foreign trade agreements), maintenance or future capital expenditures could rise.
- Therefore, it is prudent not to delay asset improvement projects
At the eve of the AGM 2017, there is a chance that in considering the proposed motions, some owners may be seeing an “old woman” in the picture above. Others could be looking at a gorgeous young lady. Yet it is the same image.
Others will look at the picture above and decide that A’s color is dark grey and B’s color is off white. (Look at it again and cover the line dividing the images horizontally to determine the actual colors.)
As you all prepare for a “wisdom sharing” exchange at the AGM, consider that while you could be looking at exactly the same picture, individual idiosyncrasies may sway you to see different “perspectives”.
It is time to set aside personal feelings and to embrace a “global perspective” of changes proposed with the objective of coming out of the AGM with a WIN/WIN perspective for HW and (hopefully) its glowing community.
As the New Year is upon us, it has been a tradition not only to get dunked in freezing waters at Spanish Bay (for those brave souls), but also to make new year’s resolutions.
How about choosing to “be happy…….at Huntly Wynd”? Here are some sayings:
But first, have you ever driven around our community during Christmas? There are some wonderful display of lights and ornaments. In our opinion, if there was a contest for the “best Christmas lights and ornaments”, these would get my vote:
“I have chosen to be happy because it is good for my health!” Isn’t that absolutely true? And what rob us of happiness? Being angry!
There are many books and articles published on the subject. It is quite interesting to read many different perspective about “being happy” or “how to be happy”. Especially at New Year. When there is renewed hope for a much better year than the last one.
With all the sayings, words of wisdom, and phrases, some stand out. There is even a mathematical formula (H=(G=DH+C+3R)/6). You can read about that here: http://www.behappy101.com/happiness-formula.html. The explanation for the formula is quite interesting. So are the principles behind it.
There are several components to the proposed equation: GRATITUDE, CONTRIBUTION TO OTHERS, Relationships, Rules, Regrets.
Anger would probably fit within the “regret” factor. The angrier we are about something, or anything, the more regretful we feel. To the degree that we feel angry, we become regretful. That would have an opposite effect on happiness.
What about GRATITUDE? When we found Huntly Wynd, we imagined it to be an oasis within a concrete jungle of a city. We were extremely grateful for the opportunity to spend countless hours appreciating the beauty of nature and the lovely gardens and the level of comfort of our home. That level of gratitude translates to many positive points toward the happiness quotient.
Maintaining a wonderful relationship with our neighbours leads to friendship. Contributing to a vibrant community adds many more points to the happiness quotient.
When we celebrate events together; when we experience sharing stories together; and enjoy our many blessings together; the feeling of being in community with each other creates a much higher level of happiness. When we do things for each other, we significantly multiply the ripple effect of happiness. And that only leads to a much healthier life!
But what about RULES? Here is what that article says about this. In an environment where there are many strict rules to live by, “they are bound to create stress and conflicts with other people”! Interesting but true, isn’t it? There is only one explanation for this. When there is a very poor level of comfort and trust within a community, there is bound to be a subconscious motivation to make sure everyone “toes the line“. Conversely, when people within a community care and contribute to the welfare and well being of each other, they all live with greater consciousness and awareness of good behaviour. It enriches relationships. Consequently, strict rules matter only on paper.
May the New Year bring us all to the level of happiness we all long to have.
Carrie Randolph is an outstanding woman-a true philanthropist. You can read about her here.
She wrote about “What Makes a Vibrant Community” in May, 2011. In that article she describes “vibrant communities as places where:
- Arts and cultural expression are encouraged and celebrated
- Living & dying with dignity are community values
- Lifelong learning is encouraged and available
- Safety is both a community and a personal responsibility
- Civic engagement is considered a duty
- Sustainable economic growth is cultivated
- Protection of our environment and historical places is a shared value that benefits human health and our local economies
ARTS and CULTURAL EXPRESSION
The seven (7) attributes above could easily be applied to our community. When we got together for our 1st International Festival last September, we were celebrating our culture and diversity. We came together in a spirit of community and sharing. We brought food and great enthusiasm to share. We enjoyed music and entertainment and came home that night feeling wonderful.
LIVING and DYING in DIGNITY
When someone in our community is ill and in need, we stand by to help however we can. When someone leaves us for a care home, or forever, we grieve and send out our thoughts and prayers.
When something goes wrong that threatens our safety, we are concerned.
…But to make our community vibrant requires more from each of us.
RECOGNITION of COMMUNITY SERVICE
First and foremost, it is my opinion that it is important to recognize that those volunteering to serve our community freely are giving of themselves for the benefit of the community. When we do, it changes interpersonal dynamics. We become more understanding of the challenges they face and the enormous responsibilities they carry. With that mindset, we become more generous, offering to help them instead of always keeping an eye on what goes wrong.
We could choose not to do anything and let others carry on with what needs to be done in our community. But when we do, we abandon our right to experience community life. As Winston Churchill writes (above), “We make a life by what we give“! It is why “being involve” contributes to a vibrant community.
Imagine being able to share thoughts, ideas, and opinion. Imagine helping others solve problems. We could have community programs like “yoga sessions”; morning “tai chi” exercises; community walks; seminars on “gardening”, internet surfing, fitness, landscaping; ballroom and line dancing; singing. Lifelong learning helps our minds and bodies stay strong and healthy. Imagine actively using our clubhouse facilities in a myriad of ways.
SUSTAINABLE GROWTH & PROTECTION of our ENVIRONMENT
Huntly Wynd is an incredible and unique place in the City of Richmond. The demand to maintain and enhance our infrastructures equates with the value of our homes and our community. When we care for our community the same way we care for our respective homes, we begin to have an open mind about the economic realities of the importance of assuring “sustainable growth”. We begin to see the significance of managing financial resources with the future in mind. We see our “monthly maintenance contributions” or “special levies” as our pledge to continue to build values to our homes.
SOWING SEEDS of DISCONTENT…
…negatively impacts community life. It hurts and fragments relationship. Please keep in mind that when we put our strata council or corporation in a legal bind for whatever reason, let us not forget that it is us, owners, that are ultimately liable. Cost of legal proceedings or awards against the corporation ultimately depletes our resources.
Instead, let us strengthen and promote altruism and friendship. Our community deserves it. We deserve it. Perhaps one day, philanthropists in our community may consider a living legacy in their name for the benefit of the community they call home – Huntly Wynd.