If you care for a condo corporation that consistently shows up when it’s time to vote, consider yourself lucky. Most corporations have struggled to reach quorum at some point in time, especially when things are going well. Owners don’t have issues to bring up, so they simply don’t come.
Voter apathy is a costly problem for condominium corporations
Condo managers know that voter apathy is more than a minor complication for corporations. It’s a costly challenge that directly impacts the efficiency of operations. Without enough votes, important condo business gets delayed.
Corporations also need to use more resources and money to reschedule the AGM or member meeting and there’s no guarantee that quorum will be reached on the second try. Costs also add up when meetings have to be rescheduled.
Generally speaking, a building of 100 units spends anywhere from $600 to $1,000 for one in-person meeting, and another $600 to $1,000 each time it needs to be reorganized. And considering how thin 2023 budgets have been spread, this is not a great time to incur avoidable expenses.
Virtual meetings advanced new possibilities when traditional meetings were not an option
When the 2020 pandemic hit, Ontario condo corporations were granted permission by the provincial government to hold meetings virtually, as applicable, notwithstanding certain restrictions or requirements, even if their bylaws did not explicitly allow them. AGMs would not have to be cancelled after all, but managers who had never hosted a virtual meeting before may have wished that they were.
Fortunately, companies that build software for condominiums were able to connect managers and their corporations to very simple, user-friendly virtual meeting solutions. People who had never attended an owner meeting before were suddenly showing up because they could participate from the comfort of their suites.
Legislation was previously revised to give corporations the option to host meetings electronically until September 30, 2023. Bill 91, the Less Red Tape, Stronger Economy Act, 2023, received royal assent in June and becomes law on October 1, 2023, allowing condo corporations to hold virtual meetings and permit e-voting without a by-law.
Hybrid meetings: The best of both worlds
Not everyone loves virtual meetings. There are managers, boards and owners who prefer to keep things the same because, for the most part, they worked. There’s no need to acquire audio and visual hardware or remind someone they are on mute.
The majority of corporations do seem to prefer the virtual option. So why not seize the opportunity to make everyone happy? It doesn’t happen often, but hybrid meetings can help.
While it sounds like twice the work, the reality is that once a hybrid meeting system is up and running, it will save a lot of time and maybe money, too. You won’t need to reserve such a large meeting space, or you can have it in your corporation’s party room if you have one. You won’t have to print out so many AGM packages, and you may reach quorum before the meeting begins since owners can submit votes ahead of time.
If one primary meeting objective is to get enough votes without excluding owners who prefer in-person meetings, then hybrid is the way to go. Just make sure there is a quality internet connection before this process begins. Bad internet will ruin a hybrid meeting.
The process might be a little bit different for every corporation, but here’s an idea of what some managers have experienced when they launched their first hybrid meeting:
Choose your meeting date
You’ll need to select a date, which virtual meeting package you’d like to have, and sign a contract detailing the terms and conditions. Meetings can be hosted in the evenings, but we encourage you to secure a morning or afternoon spot if that suits your owners better.
Hybrid meeting orientation email
Once the contract is completed, you will get an introductory email that contains important information about deadlines for preliminary notices, notice of meeting, and practice session availability. These deadlines are important because they ensure our team has enough time to get information to your owners and set up for the big day.
Prepare preliminary notice
Send over your preliminary notice. We can review the notice together before it goes out. Once you’re happy with it, the notice is distributed to owners. If you have a digital communications system, the notice can be shared through this avenue as well as mailed out to owners who prefer to receive hard copies of documents.
Prepare notice of meeting
Send over your notice of meeting. When we have this information, we can set up the e-voting module for you. I’d advise managers to schedule a short session with us to go over all of these details before the notice of meeting documents is finalized and sent out to owners.
See how automation increases participation
Once setup is complete, owners will get an introductory email, as well as reminders (up to 10) if they do not send an RSVP or cast votes by certain dates. Each email will contain a link that is unique to every owner (this is done to prevent voter fraud). The link will take them to a secure e-voting portal. From here, owners can read the cover letter for the AGM, download attachments, see meeting details for both in-person and virtual attendance, and RSVP or cast a vote.
Managers have access to the e-voting dashboard before the meeting takes place. The dashboard lets them see how many votes have come in, and how close they are to reaching quorum.
Getting a moderator for your meeting is strongly recommended. If you do, it will be one of the least stressful AGMs you’ve ever attended. All you will need to worry about is the setup for the in-person portion of the meeting. Everything on the virtual side will be handled by the moderator. They will do things like let the chairperson know if any virtual hands are raised, and un-mute participants when it is their turn to talk.
Hybrid meetings give owners more ways to participate in condo business and provide managers with more control over the entire process. There are so many benefits to this model.
Juliette Hunter is a customer success manager at Condo Control who currently holds her General License with the Condominium Authority of Ontario. She previously worked as a commercial and condominium manager, and then held head office roles at multiple condominium management companies. She has a keen understanding of the condo management industry and what types of solutions managers need in order to excel in their roles.