Case Studies, Pendrell Place: Strata Council Meeting boycottted; growing frustrations

The following emailed Minutes sent by Strata Council member Lynne Gonzalez illustrate the growing frustrations within the Strata Corporation government. Such issues include problems obtaining financial statements from Ascent Management and the lack of feedback from Council members with respect to suggested procedural changes within the complex. The meeting could take no decisions because four members of Council boycotted the meeting and one member was unable to attend.


----- Original Message -----

From: J/Lynn Gonzalez
To: Gord Owens ; Chris Monk ; Daphne Bramham ; Tim Dudra ; Barb Coleman ; Max Campos
Sent: Tuesday, May 01, 2001 5:18 AM
Subject: regularly scheduled meeting for 30 April, 2001 Strata Council VR1008 Agenda and Minutes of meeting

Members Present: Chris Monk, Vice-Chairman, Lynne Gonzalez
Guest: Jaime Gonzalez
Members Absent: Gord Owens, Daphne Bramham, Max Campos, Barbara Coleman. Tim Dudra unable to attend.

Meeting Called to Order

The meeting was called to order by Vice-Chairman, Chris Monk at 8:15 p.m.

Under Old Business:

1. Mrs. Gonzalez gave a report on two new Management companies named Bayside and The Property Shop. Interviews with these companies will be organized for the near future. In the meantime, Mrs. Gonzalez presented copies of their contracts, responsibilities, monthly statements of expenses and disbursements and details of disbursements which they both have declared are available at any time to all owners upon request and provided to all members of the strata council on a monthly basis.

2. Termination of Ascent Management. Daphne Bramham, Treasurer, stated on the 29 March, 2001 informal meeting that Ascent had decided to sever their contract with Strata Property VR1008. Mr. Monk stated that, to date, there has been no letter from Ascent to Strata Council advising us of this fact, and that clarification is necessary.

3. Feedback on draft copy of Procedures for Reporting Damage or Need for Repairs by Lynne Gonzalez, the proposed Budget by Treasurer, Daphne Bramham, and sample Questionnaire by Tim Dudra for all owners. Mrs. Gonzalez stated that she has given feedback to council by e-mail re: budget, but has not, to date, received any feedback from council members on the Procedures for Reporting Damage.... Mr. Dudra has not, as yet, circulated his draft questionnaire. Hopefully, by next week's meeting* there will be more to work with.

4. Request for financial statements of expenses and disbursements and details of disbursements from Ascent Management. Mrs. Gonzalez reported that she has asked Mr. Roach in writing to provide these monthly accounts for the past fiscal year so that Council can agree on a new budget for presentation at a general meeting. Mr. Roach replied in writing that he was not able to give Mrs. Gonzalez these documents and that they would be given only to Gord Owens, Council Chairman, or Daphne Bramham, Council Treasurer. Since neither Mr. Owens nor Ms. Bramham are in attendance at the scheduled meeting tonight, the financial records have still not been made available by Ascent Management. Mrs. Gonzalez remarked that this is extremely frustrating and difficult to comprehend. She further stated that in any business you can't logically go ahead presenting a new budget when an accounting of the money spent on the past year's budget is being withheld.

New Business:

Motions: (a quorum was not present to vote on these motions which will be presented at the next meeting*)

1. Confirmation of Council Roster 2001: That if there are any resignations, Council must be notified in writing within one week's time.

2. That we request in writing all statements of expenses and disbursements and details of disbursements from Ascent for the past fiscal year to date, so that we may agree on a budget for 2001 to present in a general meeting.

3. That Council does not endorse the previous Council's decisions on legal matters.

4. That Council does not authorize any payments from Strata funds for any type of legal services, including advice, for either individual owners or a group of owners in defense of claims made by other owners.

5. That Council terminate the Strata's contract with Ascent Management based on violations of contract cited in the letter presented by Mrs. Gonzalez at the 29 March, 2001 informal meeting and that Council send Ascent this letter advising them of temination.

The meeting was adjourned at 9:00 p.m. by Chris Monk.
______________________________________________________

*Mrs. Gonzalez has called a meeting for next Wednesday, 10 May, 2001, to be held in her unit #102 at 7:00 p.m. The reason for this meeting is the need to see financial documents pertaining to our Owners' Strata #VR1008 that are now formally requested from the Treasurer, Ms Daphne Bramham, to clarify the status of the Council membership and to clarify the status of our contract with Ascent Management.

Case Studies: Pendrell Place - Lynne Gonzalez looks for the money trail

In a series of letters spanning the months of April to August 2001, Lynne Gonzalez attempts to obtain the financial statements for the Strata Corporation. These letters show the questionable methods by which some members of the Strata Council, as well as Ascent Real Estate Management Corporation, used to avoid responding to Mrs. Gonzalez's request.



26 April 2001

To: Strata Council Members: Gord Owens (Chariman); Chris Monk (Vice-Chairman); Daphne Bramham (Treasurer); Tim Dudra; Max Campos and Barbara Coleman)

From: Lynne Gonzalez

re: review of Treasurer's budget

As a new owner of unit #102, and a new Strata Council member, I have requested a review of the financial statements of expenses and disbursements and details of disbursements for the past fiscal year (at both our informal meetings in PH#402 on March 29 and April 10, 2001, and in writing to both Ascent Management and to our Chairman). I strongly feel that we must see these documents before addressing a new budget for 2001-2002.

In our role as representatives of the owners of Strata Plan VR1008, I think it is unethical to allocate trust funds belonging to the owners that we represent, without being accountable for how the past fiscal year's budget was spent. In addition, I have asked at the two meetings for financial statements documenting the spending of the last two special levies for $100,000 in 1999 and for $36,000 in 2000, before presenting the request for another special levy to replenish our very low Contingency Reserve Fund, which according to our Treasurer stands at $24,000.

As a representative of the owners of Strata VR1008, I will continue to serve on Council, but I will not be present at meetings to discuss any new budget until these financial documents are made public to all the owners, until an official forensic audit of the past three years is authorized either by Council or by a General meeting and until the expenses of an annual audit and general building inspection are included in this budget.

Sincerely

Lynne Doupe Gonzalez
cc: Owners of Strata VR1008


Other letters from Mrs. Gonzalez on this issue are:

July 19, 2001
August 8, 2001


This issue is also raised by Mrs. Gonzalez in her June 11, 2001 email to Chris Monk.

Leaky condo coverage in The Vancouver Sun

UBC School of Journalism




Spendlove, Paul

Title: Leaky Coverage: Real Estate and Land-Use Reporting in The Vancouver Sun
Master of Journalism Candidate: By Paul Spendlove, B.A., Trent University, 1994

Date: April 19, 2001

Synopsis:

Thousands of Vancouver residents lost tens of thousands of dollars when their brand new condos sprung leaks in the 1990s. This housing disaster, called the "leaky condo crisis," affected more than 50,000 housing units in Greater Vancouver. It left these homeowners paying off long-term mortgages while they watched the value of their new homes plummet and the walls of their dwellings rot away.

In the wake of this crisis, Paul Spendlove seeks to find out whether The Vancouver Sun - one of Vancouver's two daily newspapers - provided "lightweight" coverage of real estate issues in deference to their real estate advertisers.

In his thesis, Spendlove looks at three years of real estate and land-use coverage in various sections of the Sun. He discovers a lack of consumer-oriented real estate reporting in both the real estate and business sections, as well as a pattern of unnecessary differentiation between "public" (urban planning) and "private" (development) matters in land-use reporting overall.

Spendlove suggests ways to address these concerns. He examines The Toronto Star's coverage provided by its architecture critic and urban affairs columnist, and considers how a similar role or column could benefit The Vancouver Sun. He also recommends a consumer-oriented approach to development coverage in the Business and New Homes sections, and that the paper cut ties with the Georgie (development) Awards.

Case Studies, Pendrell Place - "The Coup by Sue"

THE COUP BY SUE
(The Takeover of Pendrell Place)

By Richard B. Oldaker
06/Apr/01


PROLOGUE


Susan (Sue) and Lionel Carriere arrived at Pendrell Place in the mid 90's and Sue became enthusiastically involved in the Condo Politics. Prior to their arrival the occupants of Pendrell Place had enjoyed the loyal services of Ken, who kept things running on a daily basis, and Sharon Dewar, who owned and operated a small business (Vancap Realty Management Ltd) that managed condominiums. Sharon knew the rules and did the work. Ken was reliable and honest. By comparison with what was to follow those were the halcyon days.

A metamorphosis of the ownership had been underway for some time from a principally non-resident (investor) demographic to one that was principally resident. Along with that had gone a transfer of control of the Strata Council such that, by 1996, there was only one non-resident on the Council, (whose daughter actually resided in the "family apartment"). It was at that Annual General Meeting that Sue was first elected to Council. (Not bad for a newcomer!) The Council no longer was representative of all of the Owners. The winds of change began to blow.

After the 1997 Annual General Meeting, the newly elected Council was entirely made up of residents. Concern over the bottom line was gone. Ken had left and Sue had set her gyro and become active. She made it known to the Owners that more money was needed to bring the property up to (her?) standard. Sue was called upon to present the Operating Budget to the owners (and an $8,000 Special Levy). Sue expressed her goal to set aside enough money to paint and power wash the building. Her plan for painting was deferred for reconsideration in 1998. Patience is a virtue and Sue was patient - if not virtuous.


THE TAKEOVER

The 1998 Annual General Meeting found Sue in the chair having, by this time, become co-chairperson of the Council. The takeover was well underway. The new caretaker, Ray Gould, had departed and Lionel had, to some extent, replaced him. Pendrell Place was now firmly in the hands of "la famille Carriere". Sue proudly told the nine Owners present (four more were reported to be represented by proxy) - that an audit had been done up to 31/Mar/97 (but failed to mention the auditor had been released). Her passion to repaint the building rose to the surface once again but her proposed $30,000 Special Levy was only to be transformed into an approval to power wash the building ($3,000). There was discussion over the condition of the roof (which had four years left on its guarantee) and the responsibility of the Owners to care for their own decks. (There was not any indication of the devastation that was about to come as a result of commencing a campaign to reconstruct five patios/decks within three months).

Sue had ended her report "on a positive note" advising those present that the previous year had ended with a $10,000 surplus (which, by law, had to be transferred to the Contingency Reserve Fund). A Council of seven was elected (out of the nine Owner's present).

At the meeting of the Strata Council, held on 06/May/98, the "Coup by Sue" had become fact. She was elected (sole) Chairperson of the Council and (Mrs) Bev Lewis was elected as Vice-Chairperson while Lionel and Marty (Lewis) looked proudly on. (This is a woman's work!).


THE REGNUM

Sue had made careful plans for her reign. It is rumoured that she had made the acquaintance of a handyman about town named Randy Kautzman at Delaney's coffee shop (on Denman St). With Lionel having decided to go away to the East Coast to find a more lucrative way to spend his time, what Sue needed to carry our her heavy responsibilities as Chairperson was someone to take over Lionel's duties. To Sue, Randy seemed to by just what she needed!

Immediately after the formality of electing Sue to be the Chairperson, she advised Council that Randy would be dropping in to meet them and discuss replacing Lionel. And so he did. The pieces were now in place. Sue had control over the cheque book, the Council was overdosed on sleeping pills, Sharon was relegated to writing the cheques, keeping the books and out of Sue's way, and Randy was going to have control over the purchase order book.

As is often said, the rest is history. Randy stepped up to the task of finding every conceivable thing he could about Pendrell Place that needed fixing. It has been rumoured (but not confirmed) that he was so enthusiastic about his duties that he appeared to be living there. For Sue and Randy, Pendrell Place was Nirvana. Randy busied himself finding things he could do and issuing purchase orders to himself to do them. Sue was Randy's pay mistress. She approved his invoices without question and ordered Sharon to issue cheques. With a docile Council enjoying the benefits of Randy's $70/hr skills and fourteen other Owners to milk for more money - what was there to be concerned about? It will all come right in the end.

Sue had discovered that the way to deal with the Owners was to spend the money first and then raise another Levy when they do not have a choice (other than to declare bankruptcy). She had tried the other approach and had found it to be wanting. The law, after all, is made to be broken; only "little people" pay taxes.
 (More)

Case Studies, Pendrell Place: Bramham orders Monk not to deal with lawyer Hamilton

Daphne Bramham, Treasurer of the Pendrell Place Strata Corporation, sends an email to Vice-President Chris Monk, who has been investigating the Corporation's finances and is alarmed at what the records reveal.


2001 April 04

Chris;

As a result of your conversation with the strata corporation's lawyer Stephen Hamilton, Mr. Hamilton has sent a letter to the strata corporation saying that you advised him that the strata corporation may not be prepared to pay the outstanding account for legal fees respecting Mr. Oldaker, which now totals approximately $10,000.

The letter was sent to Mike Roach [Ascent Property Management], who called me because Gord Owens [President of the Strata Corporation] is out of town. I then received a copy of the letter and have been in touch with Gord via email.

Gord asked me to do two things. The first was to advise Mike as well as Stephen Hamilton that any outstanding bills would be paid.

The second was to advise you that you are not authorized to act on behalf of the council in any dealings with our lawyer.

Daphne Bramham
The Vancouver Sun
Vancouver, BC Canada