By Gowling WLG - Rodrigue Escayola -
At 8:30 on March 17, Ontario Premier Doug Ford declared a state of emergency in the province to combat the spread of the Coronavirus (COVID-19).
As part of this declaration, the province is prohibiting gatherings of more than 50 people, including indoor recreation centres, theatres, concert venues, places of worship, private schools and day care until March 31 .
While such measures are required, the social distancing it is imposing in public spaces is potentially compromising the one required at condos. Condo corporations should consider adopting directive and precautions that will help "flatten the curve" on the home front as well. At this stage, many experts recommend:
Postponing all AGMs and owners meeting until at least March 31 to comply with the Provincial declaration. These postponements will likely be required beyond this date;
Canceling all non-essential meetings. Board meetings should be done by phone/skype or other electronic methods;
Closing down "public" amenities such as fitness rooms, pools, party room, etc. Guests suites should also be closed. Obviously, essential services should continue to be provided (keep your garbage room open);
Postponing social events, organized by, for or at the corporation;
Increase cleaning/disinfecting and consider installing hand sanitizers in public areas – it may be difficult to purchase these now;
Postpone work in common areas/units and avoid accessing units unless urgently required;
Encourage occupants to exercise heightened hygiene practices:
Washing hands, self quarantining and avoiding group gatherings;Minimizing interactions with staff to urgent ones and providing them with more personal space (up to 2 metres);
Out of respect for others, consider not sharing elevator rides and taking the next one when the elevator you called is already occupied;
Work on your emergency systems and on contingency plans should personnel fall sick or should further restrictions be impose;
Community help: Some corporations are setting up lists to match volunteers with those requiring assistance. All involved must ensure they do so safely, with increased;
Known infection cases: consider advising residents of known cases in the complex without disclosing the identity of those involved . Communicating general information will allow residents to take extra precautions;
Communication protocol should be implemented to keep residents informed. Keep your owners informed with frequent communications. Please have pity on your condo manager. They are presently swamped! Think twice before emailing them request and consider not copying them on every internal deliberation/communication.
Are you looking for a good template letter to be shared with your owners? The Condo Directors Group has put one online. Scroll down to the "Coronavirus" section on their landing page.
Condo Crisis Prevention Cell
We have struck an industry-wide Crisis Prevention Cell to help condo communities tackle this. Presently the cell is comprised of the following but we invite anyone who would like to join or provide input.
Rod Escayola (Gowling WLG)Sandy Foulds (Wilson Blanchard Management)Katherine Gow (ACMO)Denise Lash (Community Association Institute (Canada) /Lash Condo Law)Jason Reid (National Life Safety Group)