Get out the e-vote This fall will usher in legislative changes to Ontario’s condominium landscape. Specifically, parts of the Protecting Condominium Owners Act — which will introduce the Condominium Management Services Act and overhaul the Condominium Act — will come into force. Trevor Zeyl, co-founder of GetQuorum, answers: How will these changes empower condominium corporations to improve governance through the use of technology? As they start to roll out in phases, regulations new and reformed will, among other things, change how property management companies operate as well as how condominium corporations are governed, including allowing condominium corporations to use new technologies to improve governance. Standardized forms coming The Protecting Condominium Owners Act refers to the required use of a standardized proxy form for owners’ meetings. This is no surprise to many condo industry stakeholders, however, as such a requirement was recommended during the Condominium Act review that preceded the legislative reforms. A number of other proxy-related recommendations were also made during this review, including a recommendation that proxy holders be required to sign their name next to the candidate(s) of their choice when voting in condo board elections or next to the bylaw they are endorsing. Another proposal was to have proxy holders fill in the name of the candidate that they are voting for instead of using a pre-printed name on the proxy form. An additional suggestion was to provide copies of the proxies either electronically or in an automated form. To date, the Ontario government has not disclosed what the standardized form of proxy will look like.
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Electronic voting allowed Once in force, section 52(1) under the amended Condominium Act will authorize the use of ‘electronic or other technological means’ to record voting at owners’ meetings. Practically speaking, this will allow condo corporations to use technology that accepts and tabulates ballots in real time at or during owners’ meetings. Electronic voting, however, should not be confused with electronic proxies. Electronic proxies are already permitted under the Condominium Act and have been widely adopted in the condo marketplace. They allow owners to complete a proxy form, designate a representative in their absence at an owners’ meeting, and submit such proxy in advance of and up to the start of the meeting. The use of electronic proxies allows owners who would otherwise be unable to attend an owners’ meeting (including off-site owners) have their voice and vote heard. This can increase overall ownership participation as well as the likelihood of achieving quorum. Electronic proxies also safeguard against tampering and other irregularities, such as altered votes and forged signatures, which lead to election misconduct. Electronic proxies typically require owners to enter a pre-provided access code to complete their proxy. Copies of the electronic proxies are also sent to the owner and stored online, which means election results are available for auditing in the future.