COVID-19 information for strata housing

The COVID-19 provincial state of emergency declared under British Columbia's Emergency Program Act ended at 11:59 pm on June 30, 2021. Certain orders and regulations made during the state of emergency were extended to help with a gradual transition back to normal. Information on this page is subject to change.

Last updated: December 7, 2022

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Masks in public indoor settings

As of March 11, 2022 wearing masks in public indoor settings is not required by public health in B.C. Wearing a mask is a personal choice. Masks are encouraged on public transit and BC Ferries, but not required. 

Individual businesses and event organizers can choose to continue requiring masks on their premises. It’s important that we respect the choices of people, businesses and one another.

Wearing masks in indoor public settings helps stop the spread of COVID-19.


Strata council and owner responsibilities

Strata councils and strata residents need to be aware of and follow related orders and guidelines from the federal, provincial and municipal governments, Public Health Officers and health authorities with respect to Covid-19 and other issues.

B.C.'s state of emergency, with respect to the pandemic, ended June 30, 2021. Certain orders and regulations made during the state of emergency are extended to help with a gradual transition back to normal. Please note information provided on these orders and regulations is updated frequently and is subject to change.

With respect to strata corporations:

  • strata corporation amenities are operating such as pools.
  • Some strata corporation activities may need to change. For example, strata corporations with employees need to have Communicable Disease Plans. Please see information from the BC Centre for Disease Control: http://www.bccdc.ca/health-info/diseases-conditions/covid-19/employers-businesses
  • Some activities will continue; for example, supporting good ventilation with fresh air and cleaning common areas

Strata property managers

Many strata corporations have strata property managers to assist the strata council in the operation of the strata corporation. 

Strata managers are required to follow WorkSafeBC direction.

The provincial government has announced that, as of April 8, 2022, at 12:01 a.m., businesses will no longer need a COVID-19 safety plan and should follow communicable disease guidance. 


Meetings and decision-making

Electronic meetings enabled

Effective November 24, 2022 all strata corporations in B.C. are allowed to conduct annual and special general meetings by electronic means, or use a hybrid of in-person and electronic participation. No strata bylaw is required.

Please see the changes to strata legislation web-page for more information.

Extra time to hold general meetings in a state of emergency

Effective May 29, 2020 (via Order-in-Council 270-2020) strata corporations have an additional two months to hold an annual general meeting or special general meeting if the strata is located in an area where a local or provincial state of emergency is in effect at any time during the month before the statutory deadline for holding the meeting.

For example, if a strata corporation must hold a special general meeting by August 7 to comply with the Strata Property Act, and a state of emergency ends on July 15, the date when the strata must hold a meeting is extended to October 7. (Section 25.3 of the Interpretation Act helps clarify when the two-month extension ends.)

This change helps to respond when a provincial or local state of emergency is declared for other disruptive incidents, such as floods or forest fires.

General meeting requirements

Annual general and special general meetings in strata corporations must meet certain timelines, notice periods and procedures as set out by the Strata Property Act. Important business is conducted at general meetings, such as approving annual budgets.

The strata council will choose an appropriate means of holding meetings for their strata corporation. As a response to the pandemic, many strata corporations held electronic meetings. Electronic meetings are allowed as long as the method permits everybody to communicate with each other during the meeting. Some strata corporations prefer electronic meetings as this can be an effective way to encourage strata owner participation.

For owners or residents without a computer, smart phone or tablet, the strata corporation could allow some people to attend in person (as long as any safety protocols are maintained) or to participate by telephone. As well, if owners choose, owners can participate in a meeting by appointing a proxy.

Appointing a proxy

Owners may choose to participate in a general meeting by appointing a person to act as their proxy if they are not able to meet in person or meet electronically. However, it is the owner’s decision to appoint a proxy, it cannot be imposed by the strata council. Note: strata corporations are not required to hold a meeting in person if an owner or owners choose not to participate in an electronic meeting.

Resources for holding electronic meetings

CHOA (the Condominium Home Owners Association) has information including resources on managing electronic strata meetings:

VISOA (the Vancouver Island Strata Owners Association) has information on “Best Practices for General Meetings” (PDF, 80KB), November 2021 and prepared by a lawyer

VISOA has also offers other COVID-19 resources for strata corporations

Other options for general meetings

In addition to holding electronic general meetings, strata councils have several other options for general meetings including: delaying, relocating, or waiving an annual general meeting.

An AGM can be waived if all eligible voters waive, in writing, the requirement to hold an AGM and if they pass resolutions in writing to:

  • Approve next year’s budget
  • Elect the strata council by acclamation and
  • Deal with any other business

A special general meeting called by the strata corporation can be rescheduled. A special general meeting demanded by at least 20 percent of the owners can be waived if all the eligible voters, in writing, waive the need to hold the meeting and consent to the resolution(s) being considered.

Strata councils may wish to get legal advice with respect to options for holding strata corporation general meetings.

Even without a general meeting of strata owners, strata councils can quickly create rules to govern the use, safety and condition of the common property and common assets. The strata corporation must inform owners and tenants of any new rules as soon as feasible.

Strata council meetings

The Strata Property Act is less prescriptive about strata council meetings than it is about the conduct of annual or special general meetings of the whole strata corporation. The Standard Bylaws (which can be amended) address how to call and conduct council meetings. They allow council meetings to be held by electronic means as long as all council members, and other participants, can communicate with each other. 


Communicating, community and privacy

It is important for strata councils to regularly communicate with strata residents including current responses to COVID-19 and actions the strata council is taking in response to direction from the Provincial Health Officer and other government officials.

Strata councils can reinforce public health messaging, and there are various resources available for this purpose. Information can be shared with strata residents through links to websites, posters, notices, emails, social media, strata council minutes or newsletters, etc.

Vulnerable residents

Strata corporations must also take into consideration the needs of vulnerable residents. Some strata communities are supporting vulnerable residents by getting groceries and other supplies for them.

The BC Centre for Disease Control (BCCDC) has a webpage with information for people who may be self-isolating because of COVID-19 including people who are self-isolating because they have increased vulnerability to COVID-19 or are self-isolating as a precaution

Privacy

Strata corporations must follow legislation which protects personal privacy: British Columbia's Personal Information Protection Act (PIPA). The privacy of ill individuals (if known) must also be protected as per the Province’s Public Health Act. LandlordBC has a helpful webpage on respecting privacy in multi-family buildings.


Ventilation

Ventilation with fresh air plays an important role in reducing the transmission of COVID-19 indoors.

Outbreaks have been linked to poor ventilation where the virus may have been transmitted via aerosols from infected individuals that became concentrated in the air over time when individuals were sharing the same room. Indoor accumulation is greater when more people share a space, spend more time together, or exercise, sing, shout, or speak loudly.

Fresh outside air

Ventilating a room or indoor space replaces the indoor air with outdoor air. This will dilute and replace any air contaminated with SARS-CoV-2 virus or other air pollutants.

Ventilation, whether through opening windows or the use of heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) systems, can increase the amount of outside air brought inside. This will dilute the number of viral particles in the air and help to reduce the risk of exposure. Vigilant maintenance and operation of the hallway pressurization system in multi family buildings is essential for fresh air and circulation in common areas.

Still need physical distancing with infectious individuals

It is important to know that adjusting ventilation is not likely to reduce transmission between individuals in close proximity. Individuals who are physically near a person who is infected remain at risk from both droplet and aerosol transmission. This is due to their close proximity to the infectious source.

Maintaining building ventilation systems

The risk of spreading COVID-19 in enclosed air spaces is due to poor ventilation (lack of sufficient outdoor air), as well as the creation of drafty conditions that facilitate transmission. All mechanical heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) systems should be checked to ensure they are working properly and supplying adequate fresh air.

WorkSafeBC’s FAQ has some general information on HVAC systems and communicable diseases.

Air cleaning and air conditioning devices

Although portable air cleaners can help to mitigate transmission risk in poorly ventilated shared spaces, it is preferable to move the activity to another location rather than rely on an air cleaner in the absence of fresh air. The use of portable air conditioners in unventilated spaces with doors and windows closed should be avoided.

As with air cleaners, fans and air conditioning units should not be used in a shared space without adequate ventilation with outdoor air. When using air conditioners and fans in ventilated spaces, air should be moved from higher places to lower places whenever possible instead of having strong airflow at breathing height.

Extreme heat, wildfire smoke and COVID-19 risk

During periods of extreme heat, the use of air conditioning can be life-saving, in some cases it might be necessary to prioritize cooling.  For information on how to implement cooling strategies without increasing COVID-19 risk, visit BC Housing’s webpage with information on coping with heat and wildfire smoke.

During wildfire smoke events, it may be necessary to close windows and reduce fresh air intake to protect occupants from exposure to outdoor particulate matter, which can quickly exacerbate a number of serious health problems. If fresh air intake must be reduced, it may be necessary to rely more heavily on portable air cleaning devices or to invest in higher MERV filters for the building’s HVAC (heat, ventilation and air conditioning) system.

  • MERV (minimum efficiency reporting values) indicate a filter's ability to capture increasingly smaller particles. Filters with a MERV of 13 or above  are required to remove at least 50% of the smallest particles of concern, such as bioaerosols or particulate matter from cooking or wildfire smoke. Note however that not all HVAC systems will be able to accommodate a MERV 13 filter, as the denser filter material increases resistance to air flow and may cause a pressure drop, resulting in low air flow. Consult an HVAC professional as required.
  • HEPA (high efficiency particulate air) filter: this type of air filter can theoretically remove at least 99.97% of dust, pollen, mold, bacteria, and any airborne particles with a size of 0.3 microns (µm). 
  • All air cleaners require periodic cleaning and filter replacement to function properly.  It is important to follow the manufacturer's recommendations on maintenance and replacement
  • A simple overview of MERV and HEPA filters is provided by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. A more technical explanation is available from ASHRAE (American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers)

Because wildfire smoke events are becoming a common annual occurrence, and are likely to worsen due to climate change, strata councils and residents should have a plan for coping with such occurrences. Please see the BCCDC (BC Centre for Disease Control) website for further resources on coping with wildfire smoke.


Cleaning

It is important to clean high touch surfaces including door handles, elevator buttons, mail boxes and laundry rooms. Sanitization stations in targeted areas such as elevators, entries, laundry rooms, and recreation areas will help reduce the risks.

The National Collaborating Centre for Environmental Health (NCCEH) is a knowledge translation unit funded by the Public Health Agency of Canada and hosted within the BC Centre for Disease Control. NCCEH has developed a COVID-19 guide on cleaning and other precautions in multi-unit housing that includes information on cleaning products and personal protective equipment for cleaners. 

Laundry rooms

The NCCEH COVID-19 guide on cleaning and other precautions in multi-unit housing has information about using and cleaning laundry rooms.

NCCEH has also created a poster for shared laundries with simple precautions to reduce the risk of transmission.

In shared spaces it is also helpful to increase ventilation with fresh air.

Common washrooms

Strata amenities can include common washrooms. Good ventilation and enhanced cleaning with appropriate disinfectants is a good practice. Washrooms should be kept well stocked with soap and paper towels, and users need to flush the toilet with the lid down, where possible.


Purpose and disclaimer

To support strata residents, staff from the Ministry of Housing, the Ministry of Finance, the BC Financial Services Authority (BCFSA), strata homeowner associations and strata property manager associations meet regularly to identify and address emerging strata issues and share information and resources.

Strata associations, regulators and professionals have produced some useful advice for strata councils, strata residents and strata managers. This web page helps to navigate information and to supplement it where necessary. As information can change, please look for when the date on this page (and others) was last updated to determine how current it is.

The information above is provided as a resource for strata councils and residents, but it is not intended to be a substitute for legal advice. Please refer to the full disclaimer for more information.


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