Condo boards should do right by the owners they represent and hold face-to-face meetings. It will be four years since condo boards have been allowed to hold virtual annual general meetings which have eroded the relationship between directors and those they represent. There is no good reason to deny owners direct access to their directors other than to mute them.
Most are fed up with pandemic restrictions that have been of questionable value and disrupted our communities. Virtual meetings are a poor substitute for in-person meetings. For hybrid meetings, those participating remotely are not seen and heard as if they were present in-person.
At an in-person meeting, owners are able to stand up, ask questions and receive an immediate response. At a virtual meeting, owners are asked to submit questions in advance or type them onto the screen. If questions are ignored or fail to receive an adequate response, obtaining clarification is not possible. Directors are able to screen out owners they consider less friendly.
Condo owners are presumed to be making an informed decision when electing or supporting directors. This is hardly the case without direct interaction. The ability to ask spontaneous questions and receive spontaneous answers is more reliable than what occurs in the virtual environment. Limited owner participation in virtual meetings has protected condo boards and management from scrutiny.
Canadian Securities Administrators (CSA) has updated its guidance for online meetings, urging public companies “to provide for a level of shareholder participation at a virtual meeting that is comparable to that which a shareholder could reasonably expect if they were attending an in-person meeting.” For condominium corporations, no such guidance exists.
Condo boards should not hide in their home and avoid meeting directly with owners.