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  • Josee Deslongchamps

Covid-19 in Condos - October 6, 2020


October already! You have likely been wondering where I have been! The feeling is reciprocal – I don’t so much wonder ”where” you are (in theory I already know that – you are HOME, practicing social distancing) , but I DO wonder "how" you are doing, from time to time. It’s a Den Mother thing…

Gratitude

Thank you to everyone who continues to work towards limiting the spread of Covid-19 by modifying their schedules/lifestyles to practice self-isolation for medical or personal conviction reasons, and who continue to practice physical distancing when they are out and about in the community. Thank you also to everyone who has adopted the practice of wearing masks to protect those around them. While it may not be obvious and evident at the moment, your actions ARE making a difference!

Deadlines

From our last blog post, you may recall that on July 24th the provincial government adopted and proclaimed the Reopening Ontario Act – Bill 195, (I know! What were they thinking, right?) putting an end to the previously declared emergency period which had been in place since March 17th. This effectively triggered a deadline of November 21st for:

  • the postponement of in-person AGMs until after the end of the declared emergency;

  • the holding of E-meetings without a by-law; E-voting without a by-law;

  • virtual board meetings, without unanimous consent of all directors, and

  • electronic distribution of Notices without Owners having consented to electronic distributions.

In fairness, whether or not we collectively agree with the decisions made, one has to acknowledge that the Province is faced with the daunting responsibility of balancing risks to the community against mounting economic hardship for businesses. Proverbial “rock and a hard place”…

Also apparently a case of the proverbial “seemed like a good idea at the time... The province has since then recently announced an extension to these deadlines, and has reset them to May 31, 2021 for all of the above.

To quote one of my favorite Ontario RCMs, Katherine Gow (@KGowCondo on Twitter), “extending condoland's ability to continue to hold AGMs virtually is an important means through which the health of Ontarians can be protected while ensuring that important democratic and governance processes continue.” Could not have said it better myself!

The More things change….

Predictably, many things have changed since mid-August and continue to evolve rapidly across the Province and in our local community. Notably, since our last blog post, restrictions for indoor activities such as indoor dining and capacity limits in gyms and recreation centres were relaxed. Primary, intermediary and high schools have also re-opened.

Also predictably, with the loosening of restrictions, for a variety of reasons, Covid-19 transmissions in our Province and specifically in our community are, once again, on the rise.

PROVINCE – gathering limits

As a result of this rising community spread, further restrictions on gathering limits have been implemented to try to curb the trend. As of October 2nd the provincial government has imposed renewed gathering limits in certain regions of the province, including Ottawa. At the time of drafting of this blog post, indoor gatherings in Ottawa are limited to ten (10) people and outdoor gatherings are limited to twenty five (25) people.

Just to keep things interesting (and apparently to fuel the seemingly non-ending quest for loopholes), gathering limits differ for meetings and events held in rented venues such as event halls and other rental event/meeting spaces.

And YES – after (way too much) discourse – everyone finally appears to be on the same page in Condoland… The gathering limits DO apply to condominiums, condominium meetings and condominium social events (unless of course your meeting or event is held in a rented venue). Maddening isn’t it?

PROVINCE – masks

After having originally made it the responsibility of individual municipalities to impose masks requirements in their own communities (more on Ottawa’s masking bylaw below), on October 2nd the Province finally amended its own legislation mandating the use of masks in all interior public spaces. You can read about it here.

Unfortunately, despite the fact that this new wording specifically addresses multi-residential buildings, there remains wiggle room in the wording (again to the delight of those on the hunt for loopholes…). The Provincial wording mandates that masks be worn in indoor common element areas UNLESS people are able to maintain at least 2-meter distance. Another maddening turn of event for those of us trying to enforce the use of masks in our buildings! Thankfully, the Province's wording does state that where municipalities have adopted stricter wording By-Laws – the stricter wording applies.

MUNICIPALITY (Ottawa) - masks

After progressively increasing their commitment from “suggesting”, then “encouraging”, then “instructing” building operators to adopt masking policies, on August 26th the City of Ottawa adopted a temporary bylaw which mandates the use of masks (with exemptions for medical and other reasons) in ALL indoor common element areas for multi-residential buildings including condominiums. You can read more about the City of Ottawa bylaw here:

You can read more about masks on the City of Ottawa website: here.

ENFORCEMENT

The vast majority of Owners and Residents are dutifully complying with Condominium Rules/Policies, as well as the Municipal Bylaw (and now Provincial regulations) by wearing masks while attending indoor common element areas such as hallways, lobbies, vestibules, mail rooms, lockers, laundry rooms, workshops, libraries, gyms, pool areas and other recreational facilities.

In accordance with the Municipal Bylaw, in as much as we are deemed the “building operator”, when we notice that someone is not complying with the Bylaw requirement, a verbal reminder that a mask is required is made. See our previous blog post about “difficult conversations with passionately angry people on a day when they are clearly not at their best".

Where our verbal reminder is not sufficient and where there is repeated or ongoing failure to abide by the bylaw, we call upon the assistance of municipal By-Law officers to assist.

Always keeping in mind that there are a variety of good reasons why certain people cannot wear a mask, Owners and Residents who may be concerned about failures to comply are urged to communicate directly with 3-1-1.

TOOLS AND RESOURCES

If you are concerned that you may have Covid-19 you are encouraged to use the Province’s self-assessment tool – available here.

Many helpful resources are available at the City of Ottawa Covid-19 Webpage


Of specific interest on this site – the City’s recommendations on how to reduce the spread.

The City of Ottawa website has a good infographic self-screening poster – available here. It is a useful tool as we make decisions on a daily basis, as to whether or not we should be venturing out into public….

The City also has a Covid-Wise campaign. Details available here.


Also of interest to older residents.


ANXIETY ? (stressed? qui moi??)

Like it or not, we ARE all in this together. Like it or not, we DON’T all have the same ability to adapt to a rapidly changing landscape and to cope with challenges in the same way.

Trying to see things from each other’s PERSPECTIVES is vitally important.

What is right for others (at this particular instance) may not be right for you (at this particular instance)…. And what was right for them (or you) yesterday, last week or last motnh may no longer hold true tomorrow!  

Cutting each other a ton of slack, being considerate and respectful of each others needs and limitations and respecting each others’ boundaries are key.

If you are “NOT OK” and are feeling a bit “banged up” by all this - there are excellent resources and ideas about how to protect your mental health at this City of Ottawa website.

USUAL PARTING WORDS

Many of you will be celebrating and giving thanks in ways that differ from your usual traditions. Many of you will be spending the weekend physically / geographically away from family and loved ones. Martin and I would like to take this opportunity to wish you all peace and happiness for the upcoming Thanksgiving long weekend.

We truly enjoy your feedback and appreciate the support we receive from each of you.  

Don’t forget – we currently have one (1) space available in our portfolio and would be grateful to be included in your RFP if you are considering new management services for your Ottawa area condominium community!

Follow us on Twitter - we have a ton of fun!  Energy is contagious - lets continue to keep the message positive - keep a sense of humour, seek out the company of lighthearted souls and to keep trying (If not succeeding) to see things from each other’s PERSPECTIVES.

It WILL be ok in the end - we will see each other through this - together.

J (the Den Mother)

DES Services Inc.

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