The Blog

WRITE THIS DOWN : Why it is essential for condo boards to take proper minutes

Dear Maria; I am new to my condo board and I’ve been asked to take down notes of our meetings. Why is this important? What should I keep on the notes?
As a Board member, have you ever asked yourself, what should go into the minutes and what should be left out of the minutes? Whether it’s questions on proper wording of motions, recording of
votes, insertion of reports, financials or subsequent information, it’s important to understand how to draft proper minutes. How about the privacy of unit owner information and minutes?

Meeting minutes are one of the most important documents for a condominium corporation because they contain vital information about the business of the corporation. As such, the accuracy of those minutes is very important.

I get it, minute taking can be overwhelming, challenging and can carry a big responsibility for the secretary or scribe. But, it’s also a very important task, and keeping a fair and unbiased
record of what transpired in these meetings is essential, especially if the board was being challenged in a court of law and the minutes are entered as evidence.

I know for a fact that New Concept Management Inc. is requested by some of our clients to be present at their board meetings to take down the minutes specifically. And as a management company you should always be willing to help in this regard.

The condo board minutes should reflect date and time, location of the meeting, quorum, whose in attendance, adjournment, next meeting date and all actions taken by the board of directors, including motions and votes, but not a summary of the discussion. Don’t include unsubstantiated or subjective information or opinions. It serves no one!

It’s also very crucial for a board to carefully consider the tone in which they choose to draft the minutes. Eventually, those minutes will become public information and if you’re not careful can adversely affect the value of the condo units. So be careful when drafting your minutes. If you’re not sure ask your condo manager. It’s also important for the condo board to
keep minutes of its regular and/or special board of directors meetings, as well as, the annual general meeting of the owners. With technology, this can easily be done via a
computer, email folder, cloud based programs or the old fashion way of a minute book, and of course the help of your management company. New Concept Management Inc. will always
keep a copy of the minutes on file for the condo corporation.

When it comes to privacy, the Condominium Corporation can collect, use, and disclose personal information of participants in a record of the meeting minutes. Generally, individuals who participate in AGM discussions are considered to have consented to the collection, use, and disclosure of their personal information in relation to their participation in the meeting. 

For a meeting of the Board of Directors, attendees who provide their names and other personal information as part of a recorded meeting should be provided with notification. Any notes or electronic recordings taken at a meeting should only be kept until the minutes are approved, then destroyed. These suggestions may not cover everything that is involved in minute taking, but it should give you a sense of what to include and not include in your minutes.

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REV IT UP…Electric vehicles may soon become the norm, is your condo equipped for it?

Dear Maria; I’m hearing so much talk about Electric Vehicles (EV) is this something that we as a Board should be considering?

Answer Lets face it, with the way technology is progressing these days gas powered vehicles are no longer the only option available to the ecologically-conscious, tech savvy individual. Electric Vehicles are climbing in popularity.

On March 26, 2018, the province of Ontario released new regulations aimed at facilitating the installation of electric vehicle charging stations in existing condos. Am I shocked? No! To my understanding the City of Calgary is  putting a strategy for electric vehicle in places. City data suggests that there are around 750 electric vehicles registered in Alberta and climbing.

Electric vehicles are cars that run off of electricity, instead of gasoline. They are powered by rechargeable batteries, which are charged by everyday electricity. Some types of electric vehicles also include a gasoline engine to extend the car’s maximum driving range. Charging stations are used to supply electricity to the car and can be built into someone’s home and can be found in public spaces.

According to the city, one of the objectives includes encouraging quicker adoption of electric vehicles to aid in reducing greenhouse gas emissions. According to the City, the objectives
of the Electric Vehicle Strategy are to:
• respond to the growing demand for electric vehicle infrastructure and services,
• encourage/support faster adoption of electric vehicles to aid in reducing greenhouse gas emissions,
• build partnerships across Alberta to provide an electric vehicle charging network within the province that connects to other provinces or states,
• establish what role The City, partner organizations and the private sector should play in providing electric vehicle infrastructure and services, and
• increase awareness and create enthusiasm among the public and industry about electric vehicles.

In my personal opinion, it’s only a matter of time before Alberta adopts the same type of regulations that Ontario has and mandates that Alberta condos add a charging station in
their parking facility. With that said, should boards start talking about adding charging stations in their condominium buildings? Or remain in the past and ignore future expectations
of a changing world. Transportation is changing quickly, and charging a car rather than filling up the tank seems to be the way of the future. Something to consider! 

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THE HAZARDS OF POTTING SOIL FIRES : Butting out cigarettes in potting soil is a primary fire hazard

Question : Dear Maria; We’ve heard a lot about fires starting from balconies in condo buildings. What’s the main reason for this and how can this be prevented?

Answer: Over the last few years, fire departments throughout North America have reported a higher than average number of fires caused by potting soil and/or peat moss. Many of them from
smokers disposing cigarettes in their potted plants in the balconies of their condo apartments.

Here are some examples of large fire caused by potting soil catching fire in condominiums:
• Calgary – March 2010 – fire caused by a cigarette left smoldering in a flowerpot left 250 people displaced.
• Edmonton – July 2014 – fire caused by a cigarette in a flowerpot left 400 people displaced.
• Edmonton – May 2015 – fire caused by carelessly disposing of cigarette in flowerpot left 155 people displaced.
• Montreal – August 2016 – fire starting in a flowerpot left 30 people displaced
• Langley, BC – December 2016 – fire caused by a careless disposal of a cigarette butt left 100 people displaced.
• Calgary – May 2018 – large fire loss due to improper disposal of cigarette in a planter on balcony left 200 occupants displaced.

There are two main causes:
• Careless disposal of smoking materials
• Spontaneous combustion

The majority of smokers today light up outside where there are often insufficient ashtrays or receptacles for cigarette butts. Many butt out in any available container,
such as a patio planter. There have also been reports of fires where potting soil has self-ignited. This can occur if a plastic planter is left in direct sun, neglected and allowed to completely dry out. Fire departments advise that the chance of this happening is relatively low, however, if a potted plant is allowed to dry out and something hot is placed in it, such
as a cigarette, it will burn. Many people think that they can safely butt out in a plant or flowerpot; however both the plants and soils contain chemicals
that can ignite. A problem related to fertilizers in the soil is that they act as oxidizers that can accelerate combustion. Many potting soils on the market today contain less dirt and more organic substances that are flammable, such as shredded wood, bark, peat moss, styrofoam pellets and vermiculite.

Helpful prevention tips:

• Provide smokers with a designated smoking area, and provide proper receptacles for cigarette disposal.
• Advise smokers not to use any pots containing potting soil as an ashtray.
• Maintain planters, keep plants fresh and watered and check them frequently in hot sunny dry weather.
• Discard any dead plants in planters.
• Do not keep potted plants near combustible materials.
• Do not store bags of potting soil in direct sunlight and/or near any combustible materials.
• Avoid plastic containers – use clay planter pots whenever possible, as they may keep potting soil res better contained. Think twice before butting out. Credit for article-BFL Canada Insurance Inc.

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