1. COLCO held its sixth meeting at McMath School in Richmond on Sunday, April 16th, 2000, from 1pm to 4pm.
2. In spite of the fact that the record Sun Run coincided with our meeting, we had over 100 people in attendance.
3.1 John Grasty was our meeting chairperson and opened with an update concerning the HPO interest-free loans. We had stated in our March minutes that the interest portion paid on our behalf was taxable. That is no longer the case. All members who had contacted COLCO with regards to this can confirm the new information with the Home Owners' Protection Office at tel: 604- 646-7050.
John continued by telling all present how much COLCO relies strictly on donations to pay for expenses incurred such as: Hall rentals for our meetings, printing of the Leaky Rotten Condo List, supplies for our Walkabouts, and general office expenses. He said people could help by either making a small donation, paying for the Leaky Rotten Condo List (which costs $1.00 each to print), or buying a T-shirt. Thanks to all who generously donated.
April has been designated "New Home Month" and the B.C. government
press release quotes Jan Pullinger, Minister of Social Development and
Economic Security: "New Home Month is an opportunity to reflect on the
importance of housing in securing our futures. Quality, affordable homes
are important for stabilizing families and communities". John then read a
selection of quotes that should really help restore confidence in the building industry. Doris Penner, Past President of the CHBA-BC, an organization which has claimed for years to provide research, education and training for its members: "We went into Friday's press conference thinking that hopefully we would get some money for research into building decent buildings, get some answers how to do it". Nat Bosa, Developer: If I was a condo buyer, I wouldn't hesitate. I really don't know what they're waiting for because the product is going to dry up". Dale Staples of Graham Crockart Architects: "There are always small leaks". Peter Simpson, CEO of GVHBA-BC about his first-time homebuyer seminars: "We've included the topic of water penetration. Our seminars adapt to current conditions". Andrew Crosse of Sutton Group Realty: "There is definitely a trend to buy stuff that's good quality". James K.M. Cheung, Architect: "Our code should become a performance code rather than a prescriptive one". Doug Penzer, President of the 1,000+ member CHBA-BC: "A credibility gap with our customers resulting from the leaky condo crisis have all contributed to drive new home starts to an all-time low". Michael Audain, Managing Director for Polygon: "We are very committed to British Columbia". Maureen Unser of UDI, speaking on behalf of 85% of B.C.'s developers: "Despite the building envelope failures, our members are deeply committed (to the quality of construction).
All this coming from the building industry leaders while tens of thousands of past customers, B.C. families already getting ripped off, remain devastated.
3.2 Sandra La Couvee responded to members inquiring about boycotting the industry. She drew attention to one segment - the supporters of the Georgie Awards. The Homeowner Protection Office have said they will not be supporting the Georgie Awards this year. They have also withdrawn their financial support of the recent massive advertising campaign by the building industry. Other supporters include: Clearnet, Hazeldine Press Ltd., Raef Grohne Photographer, London Guarantee, Cyberbia Infosystems, Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation, Global T.V., 97 KISS-FM, CKWX, Mountain FM, Greater Vancouver Home Builders' Association, Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver, KPMG, Colin Jewall Photo Studios Inc., B.C. Gas, Toronto Dominion Bank, Real Estate Weekly, Crane Canada Inc., Plasco Manufacturing Ltd. and Pacific Press. The latter owns both The Vancouver Sun and The Province. It was suggested that you cancel your subscription for a period of time, writing and stating your reason for doing so. The Georgia Straight has been writing some good articles recently on leaky condos. One was in their March 30th issue written by Ben Parfitt. That is the kind of reporting we want to support.
3.3 James Balderson related information with regards to a recent meeting he,
John Grasty and Rudy Eylmann had attended with Minister Jan Pullinger.
Also attending the meeting were Shayne Ramsey CEO of HPO, Carmen Maretic of CASH, Nona Saunders, President of CHOA, Ken Heyes from the BCOAP, representatives from the Federation of Co-Op Housing, representatives from the White Rock/South Surrey Condominium Association and Donna Cadwell from the Tri-Cities Group. The meeting was very pleasant, all understood our plight and all were sympathetic, but there was no talk of money forthcoming. In fact, one comment overheard between the Minister and an attendee was that giving us money would be political suicide; WE disagree. James encouraged members to get in touch with politicians to see where they stand. He also said to contact Carmen Maretic at 604-469-8539 to let her know what actions you are taking.
As a result of this meeting, Sandra La Couvee then read the following motion: Whereas the Barrett Commission, having investigated the leaky condo disaster based on the terms of reference, on behalf of the government of B.C., has consistently and accurately referred to this as a disaster and
-At least 50,000 British Columbian families are innocent victims
-Further government delays will cause greater social and economic
-The indirect costs are already known to have exceeded the total direct
costs of reconstruction
-Taxpayers shall unwittingly pay for the unnecessary burden of the indirect
-The modest wealth of tens of thousands is being narrowly re-distributed
to a select few
-The provincial government has prided itself on expeditiously
implementing the previous recommendations of the Barrett Commission
-The Barrett Commission recommendations for compensation were made
on February 1st, 2000
-Leaky condo owners need major relief urgently
-And whereas the federal government saw fit to compensate Quebeckers
on the non-natural, systemic failure of deteriorating provincial hydro lines
I move that the Coalition of Leaky Condo Owners, along with all like-minded British Columbians and organizations, request that the premier of the province of British Columbia immediately declare the leaky condo disaster a disaster and seek urgent federal relief to prevent further casualties and stop the human toll.
The motion was seconded by Bobby O'Kane and passed unanimously.
3.4 Peter Langan, committee rep, gave an update on the Walkabout Club. COLCO members gathered at Canada Place, Bosa's Portico and Polygon's Southampton on three consecutive weekends. The turnout was good and one weekend drew both the press and T.V. cameras. Peter mentioned that we now want to expand the Walkabouts by district. Upon questioning, he discovered that there was representation from most of the lower mainland. Peter suggested that members choose their target -a new development built by one of the infamous on our Leaky Rotten Condo List - make their own signs, wear their COLCO T-shirts and walk around the site for an hour or so preferably handing out Leaky Rotten Condo Lists to any prospective buyers, all the while relating their horror stories. For more information on upcoming Walkabouts, contact Maureen Rhodes at: 604-520-1488 or Rudy Eylmann at: 604-321-8126.
3.5 Martin Martens presented "Sued by a Contractor". James Neill & Associates (JNA), consulting engineers, performed an initial review of Martin's building. JNA next performed a comprehensive building survey and charged $5400. (50% more than estimated). The repair design, drawings and call for tenders were also done by JNA at a cost of almost $7000. against an initial estimate of $3600. Unhappy with JNA's inability to hold to estimates, the strata proceeded on their own, reviewing the six tenders.
The strata was unable to obtain satisfactory references regarding the condo restoration experience of the low bidder, RMT. The strata used a privilege clause in the call for tender and selected another bid. A privilege clause says something along the lines of: "The owner reserves the right to accept or reject any or all bids. The lowest bidder will not necessarily be accepted". The strata soon learned that this clause does not necessarily give free rein to select any contractor. RMT sued the strata and it cost them.
After months of denial by JNA and their lawyers, RMT claimed they were informed by JNA that they were low bidders and would get the contract, even before the strata had received the bids.
Here are some points to consider: First, hire a lawyer experienced with leaky condos. Second, insist on detailed written estimates (have your lawyer help write the contract) to hold them firm. Third, pre-screen abilities and references of contractors before going to tender. Find out if the contractor has been sued by a strata or subcontractor, and ask why. Obtain a CCDC-11 from the engineer and remember that condo restoration is the only relevant experience. If you expect attention to detail in your project, look for attention to detail from contractors, engineers and their references. You must keep tight control because contractors and engineers are largely responsible for getting us into this crisis in the first place. Concluding, Martin questioned whether lawsuits against leaky condo owners/stratas inspire new buyers or confidence in the residential construction industry.
3.6 Sandra La Couvee next introduced Bobby O'Kane from Windsor Crossing. This nine building complex in Pitt Meadows has a repair bill of $1.2 million.
Bobby explained that a month ago, the developer of her complex was going for approval of a permit for a new development called Meadow Gardens in Pitt Meadows. Bobby and a group arranged for a protest delegation at the municipal council meeting and gave the information to the local papers stating their reason. The paper contacted the developer, who in turn contacted their property manager with threats to sue if the protest was carried out. The property manager talked them into working out an agreement with Bobby's group. On the day prior to the council meeting, the developer agreed to bring all the parties together, including their own insurance company in exchanged for foregoing the protesting of the development protest. Meanwhile residents at Windsor Crossing are waiting to hear how they will be compensated financially. The developers, Omni Pacific/Barclay, know that they will have to compensate, or face future protests. Bobby encouraged all leaky condo owners to take action and let their developers know that we will not be going away soon. If they don't come to the table willingly, we will force them to do so.
3.7 James Balderson then commented on some recent Vancouver Sun propaganda which has been paid for by the building industry. He pointed out that Bosa, Polygon, United Properties, Intergulf, Molnar, Bogner, Cressey etc. continue to promote themselves as high quality, reputable builders. James told us about the trail of destruction they have left behind for owners of leaky rotten condos to fix and pay for.
James next gave an update on the Barrett Commission report. The Barrett Commission learned that money was funneled from New Home Warranty to the Canadian Home Builders Association through the Residential Construction Institute. Recently James met with Staff Sgt. Jeff Wright, M.A. L.L.B., who is holding a criminal investigation into the famous "missing pages" of the report. He will make the decision as to whether or not this file will be handed over to a special prosecutor. His team has unlimited resources and James thinks that the RCMP will do a thorough job. If you have not yet received your copy of Volume One or Two, call the Barrett Commission at: 604-660-2421 and request them.
Following this, we heard that in spite of the fact that the technology exists to construct sound buildings, the architects' insurance company is facing $200,000,000. in claims and the insurance company has pulled out. All this should be very reassuring to prospective buyers who are invited to call and register for the sixth annual free seminar for "First-Time Home Buyers" which will be held Tuesday, May 2nd from 7pm to 9pm (come early) at the Sheraton Guildford Hotel. COLCO will be on hand and we encourage you to call: 604-665-2700 and register. Never mind that you already own a leaky rotten condo. That one didn't work. Come and find out how the industry is encouraging you to do it right the first time around. Rudy Eylmann related what happened to him and James at last year's seminar. They were present and handing out literature when security asked them to leave the premises. They then continued doing so at the front entrance. When a reporter arrived with a microphone in his pocket, they were surprisingly invited back in. Keep an eye out for the COLCO COMMAND POST which is Rudy's vehicle, as it contains signs, balloons, literature and various paraphernalia used in the Walkabouts which you can share for this event. The builders love to hear from their customers!
4. QUESTION & ANSWER PERIOD
The floor was then opened to a question and answer period. Afterwards, John closed with a reminder to write your MP's, MLA's, write your local papers, call in to various talk shows. Keep the issue alive and in the forefront, as there are two elections coming up. COLCO now has an e-mail address. Simply navigate to http://www.egroups.com and follow the instructions to register as a new member. Once you've registered successfully with egroups, send an e-mail message to: email@example.com with the word subscribe in the subject and your full name in the body of the message. If you have difficulties or questions, please send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org. Check your e-mail for our minutes, locations of Walkabouts and all other upcoming events. Notify us if you are an e-mail subscriber to avoid getting duplicate faxes and telephone calls. COLCO will soon have its own website.
5. NEXT MEETING/EVENTS
Due to summer holidays and the anticipated good weather, we will be holding our next meeting in September only. We have been invited to go to Langley and we are asking members in that area to shop around for a well-equipped hall for the second weekend in September. Please contact COLCO members Maureen Rhodes at: 604-520-1488 or Sandra LaCouvee at: 604-594-4318 with your suggestions. In the meantime, we will be continuing with our Walkabouts on weekends.
Since our meeting, we have just received word that Lou Sekora will be attending a town hall meeting on Thursday, April 27th from 7pm to 9pm at the Port Coquitlam Best Western located at 1545 Lougheed Highway. We encourage all to attend and pressure the minister with questions.
The meeting was adjourned at 4pm.