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Our strata corporation is a mixed-use of residential and retail. Since its opening in 2014, all the property owners showed up at the annual meeting, and each person was given a voting card, whether in person or an electronic meeting.
As a commercial property owner, I have always challenged the property manager about voting. Shouldn’t property owners get more than one vote? His response has been, no, each strata lot is entitled to one vote. We double-checked the strata plan, and because there was no voting schedule on the plan, we assumed that was correct.
A new commercial owner showed up at our AGM last week and claimed he was entitled to 3.7 votes. How do we verify the voting rights of owners?
— Chelsea S.
Historically, the voting rights and schedule of unit entitlement were published on the registered strata plan, but with the change to the Strata Property Act in 2000, they were separated and published as separate schedules on the Land Titles strata plan general index.
This is often a common error when strata corporations rely on copies of the strata plan and bylaws. Residential strata corporations, with a few rare exceptions, are all granted one vote per strata lot, and if no schedule of voting entitlement was filed, then all strata lots, including commercial, would have one vote.
In your strata corporation, there is a schedule of voting rights filed. The non-residential (commercial) strata lots indeed have different voting entitlement, which is based on the relative size of the commercial lots to the average size of residential units.
The smallest commercial unit is entitled to .59 votes, and the largest has 3.7 votes.
A singular voting card that does not recognize the commercial units separately and by strata lot number is ineffective and often results in errors in voting calculations as the chairperson cannot identify different voting allocations.
Ironically, electronic meetings have resulted in much better accuracy of voting as the voting rights of each eligible voter are posted on registration.
In-person meetings require each strata lot owner to be given a voting card. The voting card must identify commercial owners by the strata lot number and number of votes they represent to ensure the chairperson can properly count the voting results.
If the corporation is adopting new bylaws, the commercial and residential strata lots must vote separately on the bylaw resolutions.
I recommend that all strata corporations pull Land Title documents published on the Strata Plan Common Sheet and General Index. This will identify any bylaw amendments, property designations, voting and unit entitlements, and any easements or covenants filed on the property. You may find a few surprises.
Tony Gioventu is executive director of the Condominium Home Owners Association. Email [email protected].
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