Ontario’s Order in Council (the “Order”) allows condominium corporations to host virtual meetings during the emergency period without a by-law. However, the Order does not specify any details about how a virtual meeting is actually supposed to take place. How are votes held? How is registration handled? How are questions and answers posed?
Corporations should consider passing a virtual meeting and electronic voting by-law to provide some details about proper processes and protocols for virtual meetings and electronic voting, and to ensure that virtual meetings with electronic voting can still be held after the conclusion of the emergency period.
This type of by-law only requires a majority of units at the meeting in order to pass.
Owners’ meetings are designed to increase owner participation in a fully transparent environment – the registration process, the ability to ask questions, and the ability to see and hear other comments and questions are all important aspects of an owners’ meeting that should not be overlooked, particularly in virtual setting.
By attempting to mimic, or even enhance the level of transparency that is otherwise available through in-person meetings, the by-law will help to ensure successful and interactive virtual meetings and electronic voting. There are several features that we recommend be included, such as:
- ensuring owners can reasonably observe and participate in the meeting, including being able to see/hear which units made a motion or raised their hand;
- the ability for participants to communicate in real time; and
- hearing/seeing all questions posed and answers given.
The virtual meeting platform will likely have a chat and video function. The chair of the meeting should ensure that questions posed by owners via the chat function are acknowledged and answered aloud – some unit owners may have dialed-in to the meeting and cannot access the chat.
One way to increase owner participation is to ensure that all owners, regardless of whether they have virtually attended the meeting or not, are able to vote through the electronic voting platform until the end of the voting period.
If your condominium is planning on hosting a virtual meeting during the emergency period, the notice periods for meetings still apply. If the emergency period is lifted after notice is sent for a meeting, but before the meeting is actually held, the meeting would not be able to be held virtually (unless there is a future order which permits this). To avoid a potential invalid notice, Corporations may therefore wish to consider including language in the notice that allows the Corporation to convert the virtual meeting to an in-person meeting, if that becomes necessary.
If you are interested in passing a virtual meeting and electronic voting by-law, please feel free to contact anyone at our office who will be happy to assist you.