Association helps create Conservative strata code

Not only does the B.C. Conservative Party have a new leader, it also has a new brochure for strata owners.

I was curious to read what “B.C.’s only true conservative party” had to say about strata ownership, and when I downloaded their brochure (see bcconservative.ca) my first thought was how pleased the Vancouver Island Strata Owners Association would be.

The issues the Conservatives identify are the same ones the agency has been harping on for years; issues like weak oversight of strata developers and strata managers and a lack of penalties for people who break the Strata Property Act.

My second thought was the B.C. Conservatives are pretty savvy to single out strata owners for attention. After all, strata make up 28 per cent of all properties in the province now, and over 50 per cent in 10 municipalities in the Lower Mainland and Vancouver Island. That’s a lot of potential votes.

Wanting to know a bit more about the B.C. Conservatives’ overtures to condo owners, I phoned new leader John Cummins. He admitted to not being overly familiar with the issues affecting strata owners or the legislative changes the current government has made.

“I can’t give you a chapter and verse on it; but you know, what I can say is that the folks that we talked to were not happy with the level of consultation and they weren’t pleased with the proposal that was put forward by the government,” he said.

And who are “the folks” the Conservatives talked to? Turns out it was the volunteers at the Vancouver Island Strata Owners Association.

“They were the ones that turned us onto the issue and it was through them we developed a brochure,” said Cummins.

I hung up thinking if anyone is savvy, it’s not the Conservatives, it’s “the folks” at the Island association, who’ve managed to get a political party – albeit one on the fringes – to mirror their hopes and goals. For an association that has 7,000 members and is run entirely by volunteers, the association knows how to work every lobbying angle.

Over the years, association directors have made presentations to government, developed a comprehensive report on what the group sees as the problems facing strata owners (and the solutions), conducted research and participated in radio talk shows. All in the name of advocating for better strata laws. (It also holds educational seminars and operates a telephone and email help line for members.)

Just this morning, I opened my local paper to find a letter to the editor from association past president Harvey Williams, who complained about the treatment strata owners receive from governments.

Later, I came across an article in a Toronto newspaper speculating on what it will take for the B.C. Conservatives to become a serious contender for power.

The article quoted David Mitchell, former MLA and author of W.A.C. Bennett and the Rise of British Columbia.

In Mitchell’s view, “the only chance for a third party to emerge as a legitimate contender for power in British Columbia is if it had the energy, the leadership, the ability to tap into a spirit of protest.”

That’s what the Socreds did in 1952 when they went from zero to 19 seats in the legislature and formed the government. Mitchell doesn’t think a similar scenario exists for the B.C. Conservatives, but perhaps disgruntled strata owners could boost their chances.

The question is; are owners disgruntled enough and willing to coalesce behind one party? We’ll have to watch and see how spirited a protest the Vancouver Island Strata Owners Association can muster.

Source: The Vancouver Sun

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