Monday, 12 June 2017

Joint Sovereignty or Private Club

Author, columnist, and condominium manager Marilyn Lincoln pointed out in one of her articles published a few years ago that “The word “condominium” actually means “joint sovereignty or ownership;” another interpretation means “together for a common benefit.” If there is to be joint ownership and sharing, there will also need to be a sense of a caring community, pride of ownership and a respect for fellow owners… Pride and commitment cannot be built and maintained if the community is constantly in a “we vs. them” scenario.”

The “we vs. them” mentality is deeply rooted in a “Top Down” governing approach based on the principle of we, The Members of The Board of Directors, issue instructions and you, unit owners, follow obediently all the instructions. You do not challenge our authority since we rely on experts, such as The Senior Property Manager and an army of consultants who are so certain about the validity of their authoritative opinions that they do not submit written recommendations. All our experts are expected to be treated by unit owners as infallibles belonging to the category of “Semi Gods”.

Based on the authoritative opinion of our experts, we, The Board of Directors, believe that if we do not impose a 100% increase in maintenance fees we will have to slap unit owners with a “Special Assessment” that may reach a couple of thousands of Dollars. No owner should tell us why a “Special Assessment” is needed when you have approximately $1.4 million Dollars in the reserve fund of the corporation.

We, The members of The CMC, based on the authoritative opinion of a retired police officer, who became a self-declared “Safety & Traffic Expert” decided to adopt speed bumps as the most efficient measure to force cars into a full stop by the time they reach stop signs in the complex. When an owner threatened to sue us because the “Safety & Traffic Expert” failed to realize that bumps can damage the lower backs of people struggling with bone density related medical problems, we decided to spend thousands of dollars to convert speed bumps to speed humps because they have a safer impact on the human body. When we, The Members of The CMC realized that speed humps are destroying the asphalt and they have to be removed winter time to allow snow ploughs to clear the snow, we decided to invest more money on a project called “Permanent Speed Humps”. The implementation of the project is scheduled tentatively for June 14, 2017.

We, The Members of The CMC, take very seriously the safety of our community and we will spend thousands of Dollars to address the concerns of pedestrians/unit owners complaining that drivers are not making a full stop at stop signs. But when unit owners complain that too many illegal activities are taking place in The Gazebo area near the tennis court, from alcohol consumption, to smoking, to urinating on trees, to … we will not install a camera to monitor the area, even if experts tell us that it can act as a serious deterrent of illegal activities, simply because we the self-styled expert members of The CMC, believe that a camera monitoring the Gazebo area will undermine the sense of “Community” in the complex. It does not matter that we have more than 40 cameras monitoring common areas, but that one extra camera should not be installed. Owners in the complex may wonder why The CMC is so indifferent about illegal activities in The Gazebo area, “Why do they do this? Because they can!” “Why do they all get away with this? Because they can!” 

Do The Gurus of The CMC have a legal obligation to eliminate illegal activities in the Gazebo Area. Absolutely based on the following sections of The Condominium Act:

Use of common elements by owners

116. An owner may make reasonable use of the common elements subject to this Act, the declaration, the by-laws and the rules. 1998, c. 19, s. 116.

Dangerous activities

117. No person shall permit a condition to exist or carry on an activity in a unit or in the common elements if the condition or the activity is likely to damage the property or cause injury to an individual. 1998, c. 19, s. 117.

The Gazebo area is not licensed for alcohol consumption, hookah smoking, and is not designated as a public washroom so all the previously mentioned activities, and a whole range of other illegal activities that we cannot list, do not constitute a reasonable use of the common elements. Why after years of uphill battle we do not have a camera? Because they don’t owe unit owners an explanation. They are the “Semi Gods” in charge of running the complex.

The Semi Gods expect us to engage in an act of idolatry by prostrating and bowing our heads in a state of awe before, Boards of Directors, Property managers, and lawyers who decide which unit owner should be destroyed financially or which unit owner should be spared the execution. This attitude of elevating something human (expertise) into the status of an infallible sacred object, is the new form of “Idolatry” the Captains of The Condominium industry want to impose on condo owners throughout the province.

This new form of idolatry expects unit owners to buy at face value the argument that Board Members and Property Managers are the “sole arbiters of their own vested interests”. Consistently, and multiple times in the past, unit owners were fed the argument that The Board does not have a legal obligation to follow the spirit of the law and the ethical values implicit in the law. Minimum compliance with the letter of the law, especially during AGM elections, is more than adequate for The Board and The Property Manager organizing the election on behalf of The Board. That is why also, during election speeches, Board supported members talk about personal academic credentials only. No one mentions anything if the academic degree will be mobilized for the ultimate vision of “serving the common good”. No one wants to listen to the opposition’s argument that academic degrees and employment credentials, if not employed for a higher purpose/cause will lead to an arrogance and a vanity that will force you to recreate God in your own image rather than acknowledging that we humans are made in the image of God, and our ultimate purpose in life should be to pursue the common good in a just and equitable fashion.

But then again let us accept the fact that decision makers made it very clear to us that Board elections are not “Public Office” elections, and no one should assign any significance to moral values. Years ago, captains of the condo industry advised condo owners that Board of Directors in condominiums are not The Fourth Level of Government in Canada, and Condominiums are regulated like “Private Clubs”.

 “Buying a condo unit is also like joining an investment club. You invest $100,000 to $1 million, or more, in "an investment pool" and elect five directors, who have anywhere from great to next to no management and financial skills, to look after your investment. If they manage the condo corporation well, your investment grows in value. If they manage poorly, you lose money. Like all other investments, there is a best time to buy and a best time to sell.”

So instead of seeking a higher degree of compliance with ethical values and principles, it may well be the ideal time for condo owners to surrender and accept the fact, that we all joined a private club, and hopefully Divine Grace, prayer, and positive mental attitude will safeguard our investments from the corruptive influence of money and power, and by the time we are shipped to an “Old Age” residential unit we still have our initial investment in our bank account.

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