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Linda Palfi
CNC Properties
47033 Creekside, Calgary, Alberta
P: 403-998-7732
F: 403-592-8002
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Be a condominium Mayor or Alderman!

 

It's not easy or cheap to be elected Mayor or Alderman/Councillor in big cities such as Calgary and Edmonton. While that aspiration is beyond most of us, it's well within reach to be a member of your condominium corporation board of directors, perhaps even as chair. The person in that position is also president of the condominium corporation, which may own a million-dollar asset and have a budget rivaling that of a small municipality.

 

In fact, a municipality is pretty well what a condo corporation is. Under the constitution of Canada there's no distinction between a city council and a condominium board. These bodies have equal authority through provincial statutes to tax as necessary, to foreclose for non-payment, to pass bylaws, and to enforce those laws. As a current condo board chair, I can tell you that aside from the smaller scale of issues in condominium, they're exactly the same as issues in towns and larger cities.

 

For those who avoid the limelight, condominium allows a few-duties approach of letting others govern the condo, and letting professionals manage and maintain the assets and services. But for those of us who like to be involved, and who enjoy an increased sense of community through our roles, election to your condo board of directors at your annual general meeting can be educational and rewarding.

 

Very often there's no need for an election. With fewer residents to draw on than a municipality, condominiums usually are happy with between three and seven volunteers who will form the board for the coming year. The board will then choose a chair who becomes the corporation president. Others will be named vice-president, secretary and treasurer. Meetings are commonly held once monthly, taking an hour or two, at most. Many boards make their meetings a social event, with refreshments and welcoming non-board-member home owners as observers.
 

Note that Alberta law specifically allows non-owners to serve as Directors of the condo corporation.  So if you used to own in your building but now rent a suite, or if you're a tenant but feel like a permanent resident, feel free to nominate yourself and be elected or acclaimed to serve on the board.

 

Here is an outline of the duties that the condo's Mayor and Aldermen... I mean Chair and Directors, must perform:

* Employ a professional manager, or run the corporation as self-managed.
* Keep track of revenues and expenses in both operating and reserve-fund accounts.
* Administer and maintain the common property "in a state of good and serviceable repair".
* Enforce the bylaws.
* Establish and maintain an adequate reserve fund for major repair and replacement of assets.
* A great deal more, of course, comes under these simple headings. Most day-to-day operations are usually handled by a paid property manager, employed through a firm hired by the condo corporation. What falls to the board at its monthly meetings are the political questions that every governing body faces.

 

Here are some practical examples of a board's monthly questions:

* A resident is not paying their condo contributions. At what point do we take action, and how severe should it be? Do we move to foreclose on the property?
* An elderly lady's dog has for the umpteenth time done dirty in the hallway. Do we require removal of the dog? Do we allow her to have a different dog? Do we bill her for the cleaning? Do we recognize her claim that she needs a dog for mental-health medical reasons?
* A resident's visitor continues to park in the loading zone. Do we fine the resident he's visiting, or have the car ticketed or also towed away? How many warnings do we give before we act?
* The corporation is running a deficit due to increased maintenance and insurance costs. Do we take money from the reserve account to pay the bills and hope things will soon change? Otherwise, do we increase condo contributions or do a one-time special assessment to cover the shortfall?

 

Welcome to civic and condominium government. Every Mayor and Alderman from Calgary to Edmonton and over to Halifax will recognize these issues, other than for the scale and the number of people involved. Someone has to run the show. Someone has to decide what to do; why not you?

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