March 18, 2020
Concerns about coronavirus (also known as “COVID-19”) are, of course, in the forefronts of all our minds. As the number of cases of coronavirus increase in the city and across the country, we are receiving questions from our clients about what this means for their condominium.
For many residential condominium owners, their condominium unit is both their primary investment and more importantly, their home. So, these concerns are being expressed not only in relation to the functioning of the condominium community but also to the potential impact on the personal comfort and safety of owners in their homes. The potential sharing of infectious agents is a key concern for all condominium communities and their Board of Directors and Simco Management. Everyone has a key role to play in this (now recognized) pandemic.
As a result, we need to turn our minds to certain key issues that will impact the day to day lives of those living in, and servicing, the condominium community.
What Can a Resident Do?
Wash Hands – ensure you are washing your hands with soap and water for a minimum of 20 seconds before exiting and entering your home.
Self-Isolation – As has been requested by Alberta Health and the City of Calgary, if you are showing any symptoms of being ill to please self-isolate yourselves. This is the responsibility of each resident in the condominium complex to help reduce the spread of any virus. During your self-isolation, if you have to leave your home (for example to take your trash to the garbage room or go to the grocery store) that you either arrange for a neighbour who is not in isolation to take it for you or bring your own Anti-bacterial wipes and wipe down anything you may touch until you return home.
Suggestions on Social Distancing
Avoid – Group Gatherings, Sleep Overs or Playdates, Concerts, Theatre Outings, Athletic Events, Crowded Retail Stores, Malls, Gyms (public or private), Visitors in your home, Non-essential workers in your home (if the repair can wait, then post-pone for now), Mass Transit Systems.
Use Caution – Visiting a Grocery Store, Having Food Delivery, or Picking up Medication. Socializing in the lobby of your building. Getting on a crowded elevator (perhaps wait for the next one).
We are now seeing gatherings, meetings and sporting events being cancelled to limit the spread of infection. As a result, some of our clients have already postponed various types of gatherings onsite and closed their amenity building.
Furthermore, with AGM season upon us, questions are also arising as to whether it makes sense to postpone annual general meetings. While the Condominium Act, requires that an AGM be held within 15 months of the prior AGM, circumstances may arise – particularly in these challenging times – which make this impractical, unadvisable or even impossible. In such a case, we encourage Boards and management to consult with legal counsel on the next steps.
Currently, Alberta Health is limiting the number of social gatherings to 50 people or less and this number may be reduced even further. Simco Management is suggesting currently postponing any General Meeting to limit the spread of infection and disease.
Each condominium corporation will need to consider whether there are risk factors which would lend themselves to a cancellation or a postponement of an AGM, such as:
If the AGM proceeds, the Board of Directors will have to come up with a risk mitigation strategy. Which should also consider:
participation by proxy);
Communications to Owners
In times such as these, effective and timely communication within the community can help to provide comfort to owners that the Board of Directors and Simco Management are giving these matters proper attention. Updated communication will be sent out through the Communication Portal for those properties that are on the system. If you have unsubscribed from the Communication Portal, please contact your Property Manager to regain access.
While the condominium corporation cannot, of course, guarantee the prevention of the spread of infection, the corporation can take certain steps to mitigate the potential for the spread of infection on the common element areas. Such steps may include:
By working with owners and residents, condominium corporations can play a helpful role in trying to limit the negative effects of this virus in their communities.