Electronic Strata Meetings During a Time of Emergency

There have been many changes in the strata industry over the last few months to allow for proper governance of strata corporations during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The strata industry has changed in the last few months to address safety concerns and allow for physical distancing.

The Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor General of British Columbia issued an Order on April 15, 2020, under the Emergency Program Act allowing for strata meetings to be held electronically throughout the provincial state of emergency.

During the state of emergency, owners continue to be able to participate in decision-making and councils continue to be able to govern the affairs of strata corporations. Education-providers continue to educate strata property agents, councils, and others. 

The industry is responding to the need for physical distancing by holding meetings by video conference and other electronic means. 

Annual General Meetings and Special General Meetings

Traditionally in British Columbia, strata owners have gathered together for annual general meetings. During in-person annual general meetings, owners make certain decisions, including voting to approve a budget and to elect the council members who will serve during the following year.

Owners who were not able to attend the annual general meeting or chose not to attend could complete a proxy form and send a “proxy” person to represent them at a meeting. That’s right, in the strata world, a “proxy” is a person and not a form.

General meetings for strata corporations commonly take place in various locales, including the strata’s common meeting room, a local community centre, a hotel room, a local place of worship, or even in the strata’s parkade (although using the parkade is not my personal favourite).

For some strata corporations, particularly ones with very few strata lots (for example, 10 strata lots), holding an annual general meeting with proper social-distancing is a realistic option even during the pandemic. For other strata corporations, such as ones with hundreds of strata lots, in-person meetings do not comply with the limitations on the number of individuals allowed to gather.

Holding a proper annual general meeting requires organization, including mailing a notice for the annual general meeting at least 20 days in advance, certifying proxies and corporate representatives, and issuing voting cards. The chair of the meeting and the owners proceed through the meeting agenda in accordance with the mandatory provisions of the Strata Property Act and the strata corporation’s own bylaws. 

The process used is similar, but not identical, to a corporate annual general meeting. Robert’s Rules of Order do not apply. Until recently, very few strata corporations have had bylaws that allow for individuals to attend annual general meetings electronically.

In a given year, a strata corporation may also hold one or more special general meetings. Special general meetings are required if the owners need to make decisions during the year that were not made at the annual general meeting. Sometimes, by way of signing a petition, 20 per cent or more of the owners may demand that a special general meeting be held to vote on a resolution.

In British Columbia, annual general meetings and special general meetings can now be held electronically during a provincial state of emergency. Many general meetings are now being held by video conference and teleconference, with certain owners having a proxy attend on their behalf.

Strata property agents and councils are working through the challenge of holding general meetings using video conferencing technology, including how to deal with the nomination of potential council members, allowing for discussion and counting votes. It is important that all participants can communicate during a general meeting.

For some strata corporations, holding general meetings electronically may continue long after the pandemic.

For instance, in many resort communities, the majority of strata lots in some complexes are owned by individuals who use the strata lot as a vacation home and traditionally, a very low percentage of those owners attend annual general meetings.

With meetings held by teleconference, the attendance of owners at general meetings may increase dramatically. Sometimes the discussion can be more focused during a video conference meeting than during meetings held in person; I have heard more than one person say that the meetings held by video conference are more efficient than in-person meetings.

If a strata corporation has a legal obligation to hold an annual general meeting or a special general meeting, and there is a local or provincial state of emergency in effect the month before the statutory deadline for holding the general meeting, a British Columbia Order in Council now allows the strata corporation an additional 2 months to hold the general meeting. 

Pursuant to the Strata Property Act, an annual general meeting must be held within 2 months of the fiscal year end. Now, an annual general meeting can be held up to 4 months after the fiscal year end.

It should be noted that waiting 4 months into the new fiscal year to pass a budget may create a whole host of issues, especially in a year that has seen dramatic increases in the cost of insurance for strata corporations. A new Order in Council allows a strata council to pay for rising insurance costs from the contingency reserve fund, if the insurance payment is due before there is time to convene an annual general meeting.

Pursuant to the Strata Property Act, it is possible in certain circumstances for strata owners to make decisions normally made at a general meeting by signing documentation instead. All owners, however, must waive notice of the meeting and agree to all resolutions in accordance with the provisions of the Strata Property Act. 

Council Meetings

Most strata corporations already have bylaws that allow council members to attend a council meeting by electronic means as long as communication with all participants is possible. Sometimes it is necessary for a strata council to hold a hearing for an owner or tenant. At the time of writing this article, it is not necessary for a strata council to hold these hearings in person. Strata councils should consider whether the hearing can be held virtually.


The strata industry is active in educating strata property agents, council members, and others: many high-quality seminars are offered at reasonable prices, even during the pandemic.

Among other groups, The Condominium Home Owners Association is offering a series of Tuesday “Lunch and Learn Seminars.” 

Education for strata property agents is also offered online through their continuing education program and by the Professional Association of Managing Agents.

Information on other issues facing strata corporations, including cleaning and closing non-essential amenities, can be accessed on the British Columbia Housing and Tenancy website.


This article is for general education purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. Please seek legal advice to deal with a particular situation. 

Elaine McCormack is a lawyer, mediator, and arbitrator with Wilson McCormack Law Group.

Posted in Real Estate