On April 15, 2020, the BC Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor General issued Ministerial Order M114 under the Emergency Program Act enabling all strata corporations to hold their meetings electronically. This Order dispensed with the ordinary requirement that communities wishing to conduct their meetings electronically needed to have a bylaw in place to enable that form of attendance. The purpose of the Order was to assist strata corporations with conducting their business in accordance with public health orders and physical distancing requirements while reducing the risk of COVID-19 transmission in the community.
Nice to Meet You
Since Ministerial Order M114 was introduced, strata corporations across the province have embraced a new virtual format, holding Annual General Meetings, Special General Meetings, Council meetings and Council hearings via telephone or video conferencing platforms. So long as the electronic method permitted all persons participating in the meeting to communicate with each other during the meeting, strata corporations were free to govern themselves accordingly. Until now…
While the COVID-19 pandemic is far from over, the electronic meeting accommodations made under Ministerial Order M114 are evidently coming to an end, at least in its present form.
On February 16, 2021, the province passed Order in Council 81/2021 which will repeal the ability of strata corporations to hold electronic meetings without a bylaw as of July 10, 2021. In other words, absent a future legislative amendment or Order giving strata corporations the same allowances provided under Ministerial Order M114, communities wishing to continue conducting electronic meetings will need to have a bylaw in place prior to July 10th in order to validate this form of meeting. So where does this leave strata corporations if this meeting allowance is not extended?
At present, section 49 of the Strata Property Act requires strata corporations to have passed and registered a bylaw with the Land Title Office to enable attendance at an Annual or Special General Meeting via telephone or other electronic methods (e.g. video conference) provided that the chosen method enables everyone attending to participate. If the strata community has retained the standard bylaws to the Strata Property Act as it pertains to Council meetings, then the community will already have the permission to conduct those meetings electronically on the same participatory conditions. If your community does not currently have a bylaw in place to enable electronic meetings, there is no time like the present to get those bylaws in order. This is also an opportunity to ensure that your community can fill in the many gaps left under Ministerial Order M114 regarding electronic meeting procedures, recordkeeping and privacy policies for virtual gatherings.
Back to the Future
Despite the reported repeal of Ministerial Order M114, there is still opportunity for a future legislative amendment and more time for strata corporations to formally include these electronic meeting options in their bylaws. If your community would like help drafting electronic meeting bylaws and related privacy policies and procedures, come and knock on our door.
Since this article was published, the deadline for Strata Corporations to enact a bylaw enabling electronic meetings was extended to December 31, 2022. While this gives communities more time to meet electronically, there is no time like the present to put electronic meetings on the books.