Governance at Home: The Wild West of Condo Boards

by

Conference Board of Canada

I am really excited to have an opportunity to work with the Conference Board of Canada in presenting this Governance at Home: The Wild West of Condo Boards webinar.  Thank you, Conference Board, for considering governance for condominium corporations to be important and adding it to your existing work in “Governance, Compliance and Risk” 

The Conference Board defines governance as;

“Governance for us involves the actions, decisions and behaviours of the board, but also the interactions of the board with senior executives, stakeholders and shareholders. Our focus is on supporting boards of directors to navigate the increasingly complicated set of roles and responsibilities they have to help them focus on the areas where they will have the most impact and drive successful and long-term performance. “

I like this definition. Governance is a very important responsibility.  All too often I read about failures in governance although they are rarely identified as such. Failures in governance result in condos becoming Condo Hell (Macleans, 2014).

As I prepared my slide deck and notes, I looked to others with expertise who could help me. Along the way, I met some awesomely expert auditors, owners, and directors. I thank these individuals who shared their expertise. I learned a lot. Overall, these individuals are dedicated to making condominiums better places.

Being a Director

The job of a director can be a lonely one.  There is often no one to turn to for advice.  Of course, we could ask our lawyer but their advice is very, very expensive and might not be the right advice for a board.  I know that lots of other boards have gone through what mine has, but I couldn’t find these directors when I needed them.

Cowboy riding horse at night carrying lantern

Would boards pay for the advice from other directors?  Perhaps advice could be exchanged and thus offered pro bono.  For example, I offer my advice on special assessments in exchange for another board’s experience with tenders. Are there conferences or forums led by directors and for directors?  I don’t know of any in Ontario.

In my first draft of the webinar, I had enough material for three. Michael Basset and Amanda Daoust of the Conference Board helped me to narrow my focus to be primarily about directors.  I have saved all my materials for later use in blog posts or perhaps another webinar. My objective is to share what I learned from nearly 10 years of condo ownership, five years on the board and what I learned from others with the condominium community.

Governance

Governance needs to be the at the heart of the dialogue and not on the periphery. Poor governance results in severe consequences for the unwary owners who rely on their boards, or for the directors who rely on their property managers to do everything.

Peter (Director from Toronto) gets it right when he says

“… it is everyone’s corporation – everyone needs to take more than a passing interest in its affairs.”

My challenge to condo directors and owners is to raise the bar on governance for their communities.  Failing is not an option.  We can’t afford to fail.