New mandatory forms for carrying out certain activities in condo corporations in Ontario have attracted criticism from board directors and lawyers for being hard to find, understand and use. These frustrations were on full display at a CAI Canada seminar held yesterday in Toronto on understanding the recent changes to Ontario’s condo laws that introduced the forms.
David Crawford, a condo owner and director, said he liked the idea behind the forms — of communicating with owners about the corporation, including alerting them to board vacancies and inviting them to submit agenda items for upcoming annual general meetings. However, he said the way the forms present this information is confusing.
“My problem as an owner is I’m going to receive forms which I don’t understand,” said Crawford. “My problem as a board director is I’m going to have to try and explain forms which, frankly, I don’t understand, so please, please, please: fix the forms, and fix them soon.”
Condo lawyer Rod Escayola, partner at Gowling WLG, drew particular attention to the proxy form. Escayola said the two check-box choices given to owners appointing people to attend meetings on their behalf, one for quorum and one for voting, have raised questions about whether proxies authorized to vote can do so if the owner fails to provide voting instructions.
“When you look at the instructions, it says here, ‘Your proxy may only vote for the individuals whose names are set out above,’ so if you left it blank, what to do you do?” he said. “Some people say, if there’s no name, that counts only as quorum, but we have a box already for quorum.”
Despite the early challenges, which have included finding and viewing the forms online, Escayola said that he’s confident that these details will get resolved, adding that the forms are meant to standardize processes such as responding to records requests, which should bring predictability and peace.
Andrew Fortin, senior vice president of external affairs at Associa, a condo management company that has gone through similar legislative changes in other jurisdictions, said providing feedback to regulators is an important part of the process.
“If they don’t hear the feedback about what’s working and not working, then we’re going to be stuck with what we have,” said Fortin.
Marko Djurdjevac, counsel in the civil law division at the Ministry of the Attorney General, told seminar attendees that his colleagues at the Ministry of Government and Consumer Services, including one who was in the audience taking notes, are listening to feedback about the forms.
“Everything that I hear today will be relayed back to my client groups in the government, the policy folks working on the condominium reforms,” said Djurdjevac.