Last night was the annual general meeting (AGM) for my townhouse complex. This year promised to be more interesting than previous meetings because of concerns about the massive increase in strata insurance rates. It was my turn to attend the AGM this year (my wife and I alternate years) so I was already expecting it to be somewhat unpleasant. What follows are the highlights.

Much to my surprise, the first order of business – discussing insurance – was one of the more pleasant parts of the entire evening.

Among the things we learned:

1) Large complexes such as ours can’t get full coverage from a single insurance provider; they have to establish a “syndicate” of multiple companies which each take a part of the load.
2) This is a bubble adjustment which, in the opinion of our broker, should have happened 4 to 5 years ago and is related to the large numbers of natural and unnatural disasters which have happened in the recent past – the Fort MacMurray fire, various flooding across Canada, all that fun stuff.
3) We can consider ourselves lucky that our strata property insurance rates only increased by 91% as some complexes saw increases of just over 300% (yikes!)

Once the Q&A session ended, it was on to regular AGM business.

First came approval of the annual operating budget, where we first encountered she who shall be henceforth known as “Angela, the Queen of RTFM.” Angela would repeatedly ask questions about specific line items but they were things she could have figured out for herself if she actually bothered to look at what she was asking about – it got so bad that at one point, when she raised her hand to ask yet another stupid question, the council president responded with, “Yes, Angela?” in that tired voice that parents and teachers use with small children who Just. Won’t. Shut. Up.

I’m sure Angela didn’t catch on…I doubt she’s so good an actor as to keep from showing any reaction to the verbal dig.

The next major order of business was discussing how to pay for a couple of major water main breaks we’d experienced last year; the total amount was just over $95K and the options were:

1) Take the money out of our Contingency Reserve Fund (CRF)
2) Establish a special levy where each unit pays a one-time surcharge.

There resolutions were set up in such a way that if #1 didn’t pass with ¾ vote, then we’d vote on #2…and if #2 didn’t pass with a ¾ majority then we’d still be stuck paying for the repairs out of our own pockets, but it was never really explained how that was going to work.

For a while it appeared that neither option was going to get the required votes until someone pointed out what was fairly obvious to anyone with a brain:

1) Our CRF balance is well above the minimum amount required by law;
2) If a CRF isn’t to be used for emergencies like this, then why are we allocating $50K each year to go into the fund as part of the operating budget?
3) Since the $50K fund top-up was still in the new budget, in effect we would only be taking one year’s worth out to pay for the repairs, not two years’ worth.

Once people managed to wrap their heads around these points, the resolution passed…although before the vote was called there was discussion as to whether we could set up the special levy to be paid over a few months as opposed to a single extra payment (yes, but that can’t be done until we see if we actually have to vote on the special levy or not).

Next up were a number of requests for work to be done on various units – anything from relocating a washer/dryer and thus needing to install a new dryer vent into the exterior wall, to landscaping, to enclosing a balcony to make it an extra bedroom, to people wanting additional gas lines installed for outdoor grills or upgrading to gas stoves, to a couple of people who wanted to install EV chargers in their carports. Some requests were dealt with quickly because they were for things which the strata didn’t need to approve, but some required more detail then what the owners necessarily had available (obligatory old fart moment – I’ve lived here for over 25 years and I can remember when, if you wanted to do something as simple as put down patio stones, you were expected to at least provide drawings as to where things would go and the dimensions of the area being affected).

Two of the alteration amendments were tossed because the person who had proposed them wasn’t at the meeting (this will be important later), and after some discussion everything else was approved.

And now, it was time for the drama portion of the evening…RESOLUTION “G.”

This resolution would result in the banning of smoking or vaping in almost any public or private space – including your own townhouse – and was written in such a way that if you wanted to partake of anything other than medical cannabis, you’d either have to leave the complex or stand in the middle of the road (and let’s see how fast the reaction time is for those partaking of cannabis when they have to dodge vehicles).

The resolution was proposed by a young couple who were having problems with secondhand smoke entering their unit; they said they’d already spent $15K on new windows and insulation and had even talked to their neighbours about it, but they were still worried about the dangers of second hand smoke to their 8 month old son (but hey, it wasn’t personal) and they didn’t like the idea of allowing people to smoke with their own homes as there were so many instances of house fires starting from indoor smoking (despite the fact that we have not had a fire here that I can recall, smoking-related or otherwise).

The discussion got a but heated (pardon) at times but fortunately it didn’t erupt into total chaos except at the very end when people were wanting to just call the vote (bear in mind, we are now TWO HOURS into the meeting and we still had the council election on the agenda to deal with) – the vote was finally called and as expected, the resolution failed – even non-smokers felt this was going too far.

Personally, if this had passed and gone into effect I was going to set up a crowdfunding page to accept donations to buy a metric fuckton of cannabis vaping fluid and use my smoke machine to disperse it within the complex – the way the resolution was written, theatrical smoke machines didn’t fit the definition of a vaping device. Take that, Bembridge Scholars!

You’d think that after this, establishing a new council for the coming year would be a piece of cake – well, you’d be wrong.

Two council members weren’t standing for reelection so we needed at get at least 2 more candidates (7 was the minimum though there was no upper limit) and before anyone could suggest possible candidates, a woman stood up to say that she’d managed to get hold of an email from the council president to the property manager but that she didn’t want to discuss it in public (oh, really? Then why mention it in the first place? Gimme a break!).

Our council president, a woman who gives no fucks, told the woman to go ahead and discuss the email, which turned out to be messages between her (the president) and the property manager regarding a woman who wanted to know if it was too late to add a couple of resolutions to the AGM agenda (remember when I mentioned there were a couple of resolutions which were dropped because the person proposing them wasn’t there to discuss them (This is the woman I was referring to earlier, who hadn’t shown up to advocate for her resolutions), and the response was that if the woman could “get her shit together” and submit them by end of day, they could be on the agenda.

Blunt? Yes. Rude? Sure. Scandalous? Not really, in my opinion.

Nonetheless, the woman who brought the whole thing up went on about how this is you’re your president thinks or the owners, yadda yadda yadda. The president basically replied that if the owners didn’t like how she ran the council, they could vote her out.

I’ll bet y’all can guess how the vote went.

Incidentally, email leaking woman nominated herself for a spot on the council - which I was okay with because of the potential for entertainment - but apparently her name was not yet on her unit title so she wasn’t able to be on the council. I was surprised, and a bit disappointed, that she didn’t suffer a meltdown when the property manager gave her the news. I do wonder, though, how she was allowed to attend and vote at the AGM if she wasn’t listed as an owner? I might have asked but it was late, I was tired, and I might have started a fresh riot if I’d created another delay.

Oh, I forgot to mention the asshole who thought he was being cute by interrupting discussions to whine that he had a beer at home that was getting warm because the meeting was running so long; after the third interruption I finally snapped and called out that perhaps he should get his fridge fixed if his beer was getting warm.

Finally, business was completed and the meeting wrapped somewhere between 9:30 and 10…I sort of lost track at the end. I went home and fixed myself a stiff vodka and cranberry - which was nice and cold because, unlike some whiny little asshole, I have a working fridge.

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