Strata council meetings 101
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Effective strata council meetings are an important part of running a successful strata corporation. However, there are a lot of intricacies to running these meetings that a new council member might not know about. Even experienced council members may drop some of the best practices over the years and require a refresher on how to run an effective strata council meeting.
Types of strata council meetings
If you're new to your strata council, it's important to know the different types of strata council meetings that can take place in a year:
Annual general meeting
The annual general meeting, more commonly referred to as the AGM, is held on an annual basis and it must take place no later than two months after the strata corporation’s fiscal year end. The AGM allows for owners to come together with the strata council and discuss major decisions affecting the strata corporation. This is also when new council members are elected.
Notice of the AGM must be provided two weeks ahead to all strata lot owners, mortgagees who have filed out a Form C: Mortgagee’s Request for Notification, and tenants who have been assigned a right to vote or have a lease of three or more years.
To conduct business at an AGM, you must meet quorum. In other words, you must have a set number of people present at the meeting. The specifics of what is required to meet quorum is set by the strata’s bylaws and must comply with strata legislation. Typically, eligible voters holding 1/3 of the strata corporation’s votes must be present in person or participating electronically or by proxy.
Special general meeting
Special general meetings (SGM) are meetings outside of an AGM where owners or the strata council discuss important issues or resolve matters. These can be held as needed by the strata council and owners. An SGM can be called by the strata council or by persons holding at least 20% of the strata corporation’s votes.
Like an AGM, notice of an SGM is required to be sent two weeks ahead of time to all that are entitled to receive it.
To discuss the day-to-day management of the strata corporation, councils must come together at regularly held council meetings. The requirements for these meetings being set out by the Strata Property Act or your corporation’s bylaws.
Unlike an AGM or SGM, giving notice to owners is not required. Owners are to be informed of a strata council meeting taking place and this can be done through sharing the next meeting date in meeting minutes or posting the information on a bulletin board within the community.
Owners can attend a council meeting as observers; however, they cannot be present for bylaw enforcement proceedings, rental restriction bylaw exemption hearings, or any discussion where a person’s privacy would be interfered with.
Required quorum for a council meeting is set by your strata corporation’s bylaws and is determined by the number of members on your strata council.
The importance of meeting minutes
The task of taking minutes at meetings falls to the board secretary. When it comes to meeting minutes, there is a common misconception where the council believes they must be very detailed, and everything said in the meeting needs to be transcribed. This is not the case. The meeting minutes simply need to be a generic overview of decisions made by the strata council including spending and approval.
Owners must be informed of the minutes of all strata council meetings within two weeks of the meeting taking place.
Additional strata council meeting best practices
Location, location, location
It's important to remember that strata council meetings are business meetings. While there is certainly a social aspect of joining your strata council, it's important to keep the socialization and strata business separate.
So, it only makes sense that a strata council meeting should be held in a location that would be considered appropriate for any other kind of business meeting. Not a busy public setting where noise and activities can distract from the task at hand.
Virtual meetings are here to stay
Virtual meetings gained popularity during the pandemic because it was the only option. Since then, their popularity continues because of the sheer convenience. Strata council members and owners can join from the comfort of their own homes. Virtual meetings are also immensely helpful for your property manager who can also join from home and no longer needs to spend the additional time traveling to your strata corporation after a full day of work.
The ideal meeting length
It's strongly recommended that strata council meetings last no longer than 90 minutes. Anything longer than that and participants start to lose interest. At FirstService Residential, we recommend keeping meetings to just 60 minutes. It's important to remember these meetings are most often taking place in the evening when some strata council members have already worked a full day.
If strata council meetings are held on a regular, monthly basis, it should be easy to keep them to an hour long. If you’re consistently having trouble keeping meetings to 60 minutes you should consider holding strata council meetings more often.
Stick to the agenda
Prepared ahead of time, the meeting agenda should be included in the notice provided for AGMs and SGMs. For strata council meetings the agenda should be provided to strata council members ahead of time. This ensures all are prepared to jump into business when the meeting starts.
It’s important to stick to the agenda to keep meetings running on time. When discussions go off the rails it can be difficult to get back on track and a meeting can quickly become ineffective. The strata council president should be prepared to intervene when discussions get off topic or perhaps a bit heated between other strata council members.
Keep best practices in mind to run effective strata council meetings
A strata council meeting shouldn't be something council members’ dread. If you keep best practices in mind, have a clear agenda and objectives for each meeting, running effective strata council meetings should become second nature.
For new strata council members who may not be as well versed in the meeting process, a training session can go a long way. For more information on the strata council education sessions we offer, contact us today.