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B.C. strata's $1.3-million special levy revote upheld

A handful of owners say the council president should have held a majority vote on whether to allow the revote.
A Vancouver strata found itself in a dispute with some owners after having a second vote about a special levy for re-doing common areas.

B.C.’s Civil Resolution Tribunal has upheld a Vancouver strata corporation’s decision to hold a revote for a $1.3-million special levy for a $1.9-million project.

“The applicants disagree with the outcome of the revote in this dispute,” tribunal member Kate Campbell said in an April 4 decision. “I find there is nothing in the evidence before me that establishes that the revote was unfairly conducted, or that the process of the first vote was more democratic than the revote.”

The strata’s April 1, 2021 annual general meeting (AGM) was held on Zoom due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Owners initially defeated a resolution to approve renewal work in the interior common property hallways.

The resolution included approval of the project as a significant change to common property. It was to be funded by two instalments from the contingency reserve fund up to $666,000, and by two special levies on owners, totalling up to $1,334,000 payable in instalments.

The strata allowed a revote in which the resolution passed by one vote.

The strata told Campbell it held the revote because some owners were not able to cast their votes using the electronic voting platform during the first vote. The strata said it conducted the AGM in a reasonable, democratic, and fair manner, and that the revote complied with the Strata Property Act.

Six owners disagreed with holding the second vote.

They did not dispute whether anyone was unable to vote. Rather, they said the council president should have held a majority vote on whether to allow the revote.

“The applicants also say that funding a project for cosmetic improvement of common property is expensive and will be a hardship for several owners,” Campbell said.

However, the strata asserted it would incur significant financial and other consequences if the vote was disallowed. It said it’s already signed a contract with a contractor, paid a $50,000 retainer, and paid the contractor $263,470 for materials and other expenses towards the project.

“The applicants say the strata should not have taken these steps, since it was aware of the applicants’ objections to the revote,” Campbell said.

She said evidence showed at least one person was unable to vote, and communicated that problem to the meeting moderators using the platform’s online chat tool immediately after the first vote.

“I accept that the strata decided to hold the revote because an owner reported an inability to vote after the first vote on Resolution A was closed,” Campbell said.

She further noted that strata corporations are required to follow fair and democratic general meeting procedures, but are not required to follow specific sets of rules unless it's specified in bylaws.

The strata’s claim for reimbursement of legal fees was also dismissed.

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