2021 Annual General Meeting Highlights
The 2020-21 and 2020-21 Annual General Meetings of the Blackburne Creek Homeowners’ Association were held on 4 November 2021, presided by President Brian Hawrelak. As you are aware, we were not able to hold an AGM in 2020 due to pandemic lockdowns. We looked into holding a virtual meeting, but after consulting with our lawyer and doing some research on our own, it was determined that this was not feasible for a small organization such as ours. Subsequently, the Alberta government was allowing a dispensation to Alberta corporations to delay their AGM’s, which we applied for and were granted. As usual only members were allowed to vote or speak to a matter although the Chair allowed a spouse who is not on title to attend as a non-participant.
The President’s report followed, starting in chronological order. If you recall, at the time of our last AGM, the HOA had taken three of our members to Court in order to resolve a dispute over roofing materials that had started in 2013. Those members lost that battle, with Justice Kraus imposing a mandatory injunction that they remove the offensive roofing materials that they had installed on their homes. Legal costs to the HOA totalled $66,600 — $10,000 for prep work in 2013-14 and another $56,600 for trial costs in 2018-19. There were essentially no costs between those dates while the defendants prepared their defence. Deducted from these costs were $19,600 in Court appointed costs to party who was deemed to be right in the matter. That resulted in legal costs of $47,000. We had not sued for any damages so contrary to what I believed at the time, we only received the ‘Court appointed costs’ which was significantly less than our total costs. Should this ever arise again, I recommend that the Board include a claim for damages when seeking redress. Nonetheless, ‘enforcement’ of the Restrictive Covenants is a, if not the, prime duty of the HOA.
The Board has maintained reserves to cover such actions and will continue to do, enforcement of the Restrictive Covenants being a primary function of the HOA. Those who attend these meetings regularly know that these reserves were close to $120,000 in 2013 and we had planned to donate $100,000 to renew our aging playground. Once this action commenced, and we saw how it was being drawn out, the Board decided to scale back its donation to the playground committee to $50,000 plus some seed and administrative grants to them. So our reserves were essentially depleted by this situation which is why our financial statements looked so bleak two years ago (the nature of accounting procedures being that assets are not considered income which I had explained at the last AGM). We are now in the process of building those reserves back up. On the bright side, in spite of the legal costs, this judgment served to validate the authority of HOA’s across North America and now that we have a judgment, with our name on it no less, any such future actions would likely cost one-tenth of that. In essence, this was money well spent and I make no apologies for the Board doing its job.
On to the lighter side of HOA management. With respect to our ‘grounds’, i.e., those portions of the neighborhood that the HOA maintains, there was a vehicular accident at the front entrance last winter that ended up wiping out seven of our shrubs at the north sign. We had hoped that they would come back with the Spring but they didn’t so we hired our landscaping contractor (Becker’s Landscaping) to replace all seven as well as one more at the south sign. One didn’t survive so Becker’s replaced it under warranty.
The Board has implemented a Code of Ethics that will govern the conduct of Board members. This was not seen to be a problem but our past Corresponding Secretary wanted to bring us into the 21st century so we have gladly signed the document and expect all new Board members to comply.
The Board implemented a ‘paint’ (actually stain but that doesn’t sound as nice) program this summer, using a gift from TransMountain Pipelines (TMP) to fund it as a pilot project. Our thanks to member Vic Noel who convinced TMP that we should be compensated for the inconvenience of pipeline construction on our borders. TMP donated $5,000 to the HOA with approximately $3,100 going to the paint program, approximately $1,000 to the playground committee to defray the costs of their grande opening, and the balance put into general revenues for next year’s paint program.
We were able to provide 21 homeowners with stain and brushes, etc. on a lottery system and the Board has allotted $3,000 per year to continue this program on an annual basis. Our thanks to Nathan Maslanko (and his family) who orchestrated the program.
A string of our Christmas lights at the entrance was stolen last year (luckily the thieves weren’t that tall so they only got the low hanging fruit). We will be replacing those lights in their entirety this season provided we can get someone who is proficient at installing them.
As you know our playground finally held its grand opening this summer, which was a resounding success. Our thanks to the community playground committee (some of whom are non-HOA members) and especially Christine Maslanko who managed the long process of getting our playground renewed.
Our biannual clean-up had been suspended due to lockdown restrictions but in all honesty, you are not a messy bunch and we thank you for that.
The Board is working on advising some members that their fences are in need of repair, replacement, and/or staining. This is a first step in enforcing that part of our Covenant. We have also received a complaint that many members are no longer complying with the two tree rule in our Covenant and the Board will work on addressing that over the next year or so. In the interim, I need to remind you that our RC requires that we have two trees in our front yards unless they are pie shaped. We have a list of those homes that only require one tree so contact us if you are unsure.
The Board has agreed to allot certain Board meetings during the year (two or possibly three) as ‘town hall meetings, where members (with appropriate notice to allow us to set them up properly) can bring matters to the Board for discussion. This can also serve as a grievance process although you’re going to have to accept that we are bound by the RC’s and do not have the latitude to change things at will. But you might be surprised to know that our Covenants are not that restrictive and we feel that problems can be resolved by a less formal process than ‘go ahead and do it and we’ll tell you if it’s okay” (which is what we’ve been forced to do in the past). Of course, we have always been available for consultation (as many of you know) but this will be one more way to do so in a more personable manner.
Our Treasurer is drafting an ‘investment plan’ that will, in probably one or two sentences, let you know our policy on managing our reserves.
Treasurer Tashfin Haque presented our 2019-20 and 2020-21 Financial Reports and our Membership Secretary, Daylyn Dixon, presented a report on collections.
The Assembly next considered three amendments to our Articles of Association. All three were passed by more than a 2/3 majority and are summarized as increasing the notice of annual general meetings to 28 days, increasing the number of members required to call a special general meeting to 10% of the membership, and granting a second vote to the Chair/Presiding Officer in the event of a tie. The first amendment was sponsored by one of our members and the other two brought our Articles of Association in closer compliance with the Companies Act.
Election of Officers for our 2021-22 year was then held with six of the current Board of Directors (Nathan Maslanko, Tashfin Haque, Drew Schofield, Jay White, Daylyn Dixon, and Brian Hawrelak) offering to stand for re-election along with two new nominees (Don Ausman and Trent Nabe). All eight were elected by acclamation. The incoming Board will meet in January 2022.