Rod: Hello. Good evening, everybody. My name is Rod Escayola and I'm your condominium lawyer with Gowling WLG. Welcome to the third season of the CondoAdviser's webinars. I hate to say it, but I mean, summer is kind of coming to an end. The leaves are turning. Days are getting shorter. Kids are back to school, for better or for worse, and so here we are. Hope you had a great summer. A great break away from the condo twins. I'm sure they enjoyed also. Well, we'll see, we'll see how well their summer went I guess. So today's webinar will be focused on hybrid meetings. We've been spending the last 2 years, maybe, learning how to do things virtually. Initially it was a mad scramble then we all got a lot better at doing it virtually. There's benefits to that. There's pros; their cons. But eventually we will all go back to normal. Whatever that normal is going to be. That's what I'm hoping to shed some light on. What is around the corner? Obviously there's no turning back. The virtual world is here to stay. We've tested it. It's fantastic. It's very efficient. It's very civilized. It's the more humane way of doing an AGM. But we're humans. We like to see people. We like to shake hands and share germs, I guess, and so eventually we're going to go back to that. What does the future look like and that's the question we're going to ask our panelists tonight and we have the experts needed to answer that question. Believe it or not, we've done what many thought was impossible. We have on the line tonight with us both CondoVoter and GetQuorum and actually I'm just kidding you. It was very easy to do, actually, and they very gracefully accepted to join us tonight and to sort of give us their perspective. So that's fantastic. I'll introduce the speakers in a minute. Obviously a bit of housekeeping beforer we do so. The chat line is open. We love to hear where you're at. We love to hear, when I introduce my panelists there's a theme tonight, so maybe you can chime in and share your views on that theme. If you have questions put them in and the condo twins will try to answer them. Something else I'm going to send right away in the chat, if I'm able to do it. I will send you a link to our survey. We have a very short survey. It's about virtual meetings. I want to know what's the future. I want to know what you want to do next time. Is it going to be virtual? Is it going to be in person? It's about 4 or 5 questions. I'll put it at the beginning. I'll put it at the end of the webinar and we'll share the results later on. I'm running out of time already. Disclaimer: if we speak about legislation, and we will, it's about Ontario legislation. That's where we're based. Keep also in mind that the information we share today is valid and accurate, as much as possible, as of September 7, 2022. The information we share today is general in nature so take it with a grain of salt. If you want to rely on it best to go and get the advice from your own professionals. Hopefully it's us but there's all sorts of options out there. Also, this webinar is being recorded, which means that we'll be able to eventually upload it on the CondoAdviser website. You'll be able to watch it on demand. Don't ask me how long it takes. It usually takes about 4 or 5 days to put it online so you'll have to please be patient with us. I think that's about it. Let's go and introduce the panel. This is my favourite part here. I'm going to stop sharing for a second here just so we see everybody that's going to be speaking. I'm going in alphabetical order. I don't want anybody to later on tell me I have my favourite sort of provider. I don't.
So in alphabetical order I'm going to first introduce Adam Arcuri. He's the president and partner of CondoVoter and he's not the first time he comes to one of our webinars. Hi, Adam. How's it going?
Adam: Hey, Rod, happy to be here. Welcome back to everyone for this season. The benefit of having a first name start with an 'A' and a last name start with an 'A'. You always get to go first here on the alphabetical list.
Rod: Right. So the first thing I'm going to ask everybody, if I had met up with you this summer by the lake, what Canadian band would you most likely have me listening to?
Adam: It absolutely would have been the Great Big Sea, When I'm Up. Sorry David. Again, I get to go first. No duplicates. We agreed.
Rod: No duplicates. Fantastic. Now, first time on this webinar but this is not his first barbeque. We have Mark DiPinto of GetQuorum. He's the marketing manager with GetQuorum and, of course, we know what GetQuorum and CondoVoter provide. They're industry leading providers with respect to virtual meetings, electronic proxy voting and all that good stuff. A foodie at times and a sport enthusiast, and a minute ago he told me some deep, dark secrets of when he was younger and went to party in Montreal, but I'm not going to share that. Hi, Mark. How's it going?
Mark: Hi, Rod. A pleasure to be here. Hello, everyone.
Rod: So, Mark, if I met up with you by the campfire, what Canadian band would you have been listening to?
Mark: Well not necessarily a band, Rod, but like a good old Toronto boy, Drake's going to be on that playlist 100%.
Rod: Nice. Nice. Perfect. And the condo twins. We have, of course, David Plotkin. David, how's it going?
David: Good. Adam, stole my answer so I will go with the back up, The Guess Who.
Rod: The Guess Who, nice. What about you, Graeme? If we had met up with you on your boat this summer, what Canadian bank would have been playing?
Graeme: If you would've met with me on my boat this summer it would have meant that I had stolen a boat. But likely on that stolen vessel you would have heard The Tragically Hip.
Rod: Nice. Okay welcome back, boys, and everybody, and thanks for having accepted the invitation, Adam, Mark. Before we get going I think one of the questions, there's been a recent change, Graeme, and I think there's an extension that's been provided for virtual meetings and all that good stuff. I'm going to go to your slide and I'll let you introduce this.
Graeme: Alright. I won't dwell on this for too long but for those who have watched previous seasons of this webinar, or for those true condo geeks who follow the updates and the regulations, as you may know until September 30, 2022, the government had said that corporations were allowed to continue holding virtual meetings and continue holding virtual votes, even if they didn't have a bylaw allowing them to do so. We're getting awfully close to that date but the legislator has announced that that is being extended once more to September 30, 2023. So we have approximately a year and a month more of this time where you can do these things without a bylaw. Just to make sure that we go over all of them I'll touch on the four most important things to know about.
Two that go hand in hand are virtual owners' meetings and electronic voting. Under this extension of the regulation, corporations can hold virtual owners' meetings and can hold electronic votes even if they don't have a bylaw in place that permits them to do so. Now, does that mean that you should forego getting a bylaw at all? Probably not because this is kind of the bare minimum of what's allowed but it doesn't give any sort of detail on what constitutes a proper meeting or what constitutes a proper vote. So you do want to make sure that your governing documents do cover those two important aspects.
In addition, electronic notices of meeting to owners can be sent to owners via email, even if the owners have not signed that express consent to receive electronic notices. Now keep in mind, that's just for notices of meetings. Again, very importantly, virtual board meetings can continue to take place. Normally, under regular circumstances, well I guess now this is regular, but back in 2019 it would have been that every single board member needs to consent in order to have a virtual meeting, but now under this new regime that is not required. You don't need the consent of each and every board member to hold a board meeting via Zoom.
Rod: Okay. Perfect. Wonderful. Something else that came out of these regulations that are extending these temporary rules which, by the way I'm not a gambling person but if I were I'd bet a Big Mac that eventually these will be implemented, or a form of these will be implemented for good. So something that's important to keep in mind is that quorum is now, if your doing electronically, if you're meeting electronically, quorum will be based on people being able to make the virtual connection, a link, or casting a vote. Okay, very good. Now, stop the sharing for a minute, and then let's go to our experts and I'm going to start the grilling.
Everybody talks about hybrid meeting. I think everybody knows that that is the next wave. That's the next thing around the corner and so the question then is, what will those look like? It's almost like a unicorn. Everybody talks about it. Everybody wants one. Everybody wants to ride one and the only person around the table that has ever ridden one is Graeme. But I mean other than that who else has ever seen a unicorn? I want to hear what our good friends on the panel, David has one, let's see what the future holds. Maybe my first question will be this, maybe I'll go with you, Mark, what are people asking? Are people now going back to virtual or are you still seeing a lot of return customers? What are you seeing?
Mark: So, Rod, from the GetQuorum side we're seeing a lot of return customers coming back to virtual, even though they're allowed to meet in person, especially for the bigger corps. The benefits of virtual meetings have gone noticed and it's an overwhelming majority, you want to stick virtual. We're anticipating a larger shift towards hybrid meetings, when everything was re-opening in Ontario, and we're still very prepared and still building tools because we think it's kind of the calm before the storm. But the overall majority want virtual. The benefits are undeniable, from more efficient, flexible meeting, more seamless, more secure. It makes a lot of sense for a lot of corps. There are a small percentage, especially if you have maybe half a dozen townhomes to do in an in person meeting. For the overall majority of those that we speak with and our clients, virtual is the way to go for many, many reasons.
Rod: Right. Adam, what do you see and what are the reasons you see some people sticking to virtual?
Adam: I fully agree with what Mark's saying. We're seeing very, very similar trends on our side. We were also expecting a shift to hybrid or in person meetings come the fall season. We're not seeing that at all. Very surprisingly. We're also prepared to handle those meetings. We've been doing hybrid meetings throughout the course of this year but we were anticipating more. There really isn't a huge request for the in person elements in large scale. We are aware that smaller groups of owners, even in a virtual meeting, are meeting either on their own in a group for reasons, and I think we'll talk about that more throughout the session, or it's being organized with the property manager. A lot of this is coming down to the convenience that we see in the virtual meeting and being able to attend from anywhere. Not having to be tied from a physical location. I think throughout this session too we're going to talk about the perspective of the different stakeholders and who's involved; both the owners, the property managers, the auditors or legal counsel, and everyone comes at this from a very different angle. So what we are seeing, however, is individuals who are trying to host a in person meeting. The board has decided one way or another, and after the notice has gone out, they're reaching out to us and saying, "You know what? We're finding that a lot of the owners are looking for that virtual element. Can you help us out here? Can you, in a smaller time period, after the notice has gone out, set up either a full virtual element or work with us through a hybrid meeting." That's more where the discussion is at right now.
Rod: Okay. Wonderful. Let me launch a poll and I sent you a text, Adam, let me launch a poll if I remember how to do this. I want to hear what you guys at home, this is the question, how should your next AGM be held? Online, in person, hybrid. So how it should be held and in a minute I'll ask you how you would attend it. Let's say it was virtual but for now, how should it be held? The numbers are coming in. Any thoughts, Graeme or David, about whether or not we're going to go back to in person or virtual or hybrid?
Graeme: Well, I think and probably Adam and Mark will be able to add a little more insight into this because this is what they do all the time, but I think we can expect, maybe as things get a little more in person, at the very least I don't think some of the technological steps forward we've taken are going to be forgotten. I think that new methods of voting and new methods of considering quorum, the convenience of it is just too much to ignore. We can see on the poll what people think.
Rod: Right. So we see that 45% said the next one should be virtual. 41% say hybrid and it's quite low the amount of people that feel it should be in person. But that may still be because of where we are; in between waves. We'll see I guess. The next question I wanted to launch, if I'm able to do this. I'm not too sure. What will you do? So the next question will be this, assuming that you're given a choice how would you attend your next meeting? In person or virtual? So the numbers are coming in. Undeniably there's some benefits, even for the professionals attending your AGMs, and whether they're the auditor, whether it's the lawyers, and I think there's a saving for everybody involved and by extension for the corporations, if your auditor is able to pack five AGMs in an evening because all they have to do is show up on different windows, as opposed to having to drive across the GTA to go and present. There's a clear benefit for the service providers, I would say. Okay, let me share the results. It seems that 62% would attend virtually and 38% would attend in person. Okay, perfect. Interesting. Now, who gets to decide? David, I don't know if you want to tackle that one, but who gets to decide the format? Is it the board? Is it the owners? How do we get to that answer?
David: I think at this point with the regulations it gives pretty broad latitude to permit the board to make that call. Once you have bylaws in place you can kind of play with the discretion language in the bylaws, but at the end of the day I think it's most often the boards ultimate call, subject to whatever bylaw they might have.
Rod: Right. There was an unrehearsed question for David. Fantastic. So the answer, by the way, ultimately it is the board. The same way that the board can pick it's going to be held at the Bingo Hall, or it's going to be held at whatever, the horse track, whatever it is it's going to be held in this hall, ultimately the board will get to decide. Now, you kind of maybe want to have a bit of a feeling as to where your community is. I think that's important too but the board decides when, where, how. Okay, next question, back to Adam and Mark. I think last time I started with Mark so I'll start with Adam this time around. What are hybrid meetings? That's going to be the question. The way I see it, and you're going to tell me it depends and you're going to tell me it varies a lot and that's true and we're going to drill down in all of these, but they can go from in person with e-voting all the way maybe in the middle to in person being streamlined for those two or three stragglers that they can't attend in person, for whatever reason, so there's a computer in front of me and you're filming the head table, all the way to the other end of the spectrum you'd have the full blown Hollywood production. Right? Adam, what do unicorns look like in your crystal ball?
Adam: Rod, you answered the question for me. Thank you. It does vary incredibly and I think what we're talking about here, as much as we're using the term hybrid, is we're really discussing the evolution of what the AGM is going to look like. Personally, actually I'm not a fan of the term hybrid, at all. I don't think it's a strong representation of what these meetings are. They're a seamless blend of a virtual and in person meeting. I think we're going to see the term hybrid also evolve as the understanding of these types of meetings do as well. I think it's important to note that all of this is backed up through technology. So what's enabling us to do so. It's what enabled us to have conveniences throughout the pandemic. You hit the nail on the head, Rod. A hybrid meeting today looks like a multiple of different varieties. This is typically decided based off of your community. Based off of how many people you have attending. Based off of how many people you have within your community itself. What your physical space looks like. What your cost structure looks like. We have to remember that a lot of these communities would be renting out space in order to host an in person event. Perhaps now that could be done within the community itself or at a smaller venue which has cost savings. These are all variables that you have to consider when you're planning for a hybrid. In terms of the session itself, it does require equipment setup, so that's another variety. You painted a beautiful picture of what these can look like. A head table with a camera; audience members sitting behind; individuals attending virtually. There's a few key elements that are required in order to have a strong hybrid meeting and that's ensuring that both audiences, regardless of virtual or in person, are connected in way or another. The way that we would do that is through a TV screen, through a projector up on the wall somewhere, and it's really creating that seamless blend. I think through today's session, when we're talking about hybrids, what a hybrid is the seamless blend of in person and virtual attendees joining together to conduct business.
Rod: Okay. Interesting. So I've just been advised that our chat seems to have been disabled so unless Graeme is able to fix it, we're very lucky because we have CondoVoter and GetQuorum online, it's going to be like a competition. I'm going to share my screen. They're going to go and tweak all the settings. So hopefully Graeme's able to figure it out.
Graeme: I'll do my best to hit the engine with a wrench over and over.
Rod: Okay. I thought you were going to go log in the platform. Let me just see.
Graeme: I'll do that too.
Rod: I'll make you go host. There you go. Graeme's about to take over.
David: In the interim you can send some questions to the Q&A. I see people have started and I'll try and address those.
Rod: Mark, Adam has given us a lot of options and a lot of different sort of permutation. Let me ask you the question slightly differently. The ideal hybrid, if we're going to keep using that term, the ideal hybrid meeting, what would it look like? We talked about a spectrum of options. What would be the ideal one?
Mark: When it comes down to the ideal hybrid meeting in our opinion, it's a seamless user experience for everyone involved. No one's treated as an add-on. It's not an in person meeting with a virtual component or vice versa. Like Adam mentioned before, it's a seamless unified experience for everyone attending. Whether your attending virtually or in person, when conducting hybrid meetings everyone should have an equal opportunity to participate, ask questions, pass motions and have their voices heard. That's where the roots of where we see hybrid meetings and what makes a successful hybrid meeting. All this really comes down to, and Adam mentioned this before as well, is that whether it's from virtual meetings, electronic voting, using a registration tool, this is all an evolution of where our meetings are going, and whether you choose an in person meeting, hybrid meeting or virtual meeting, it comes down to a seamless user experience and a better way of conducting meetings for condominiums.
Rod: Okay. So what's wrong, maybe not's wrong, but I mean where do meetings that are streamlined, not streamlined, live stream, where do they fall short? This meeting where I just have my laptop at the head table. People are attending in person. The camera's filming me from my laptop and if somebody can't attend they can just log in, where does that fall short?
Mark: The simple answer is the more sophisticated than that. While they may seem sufficient, and maybe for a really small corporation where you may have a handful of owners, putting a laptop in your media room to broadcast to maybe five, six individuals, wholly sufficient for those use cases. But once you get to larger scale meetings, or start accounting for the unique complexity of an AGM such as accounting for who's voted via proxy, who's in attendance, are you going to handle live voting and the unique requirements of a way to vote, voter eligibility, as well as making sure that data that you're collecting is auditable, transparent, secure. It's super, super important that stand-alone webinar software, in many cases, simply can't fulfil and that's where platforms like GetQuorum and CondoVoter come into play, because our platforms have the feature set designed for these types of meetings and are able to ensure that it's not only successful but secure and legal.
Rod: You seem to agree, Adam.
Adam: Yeah, absolutely, and neither one of is are really answering the question for you, Rod, and that's because there isn't a perfect answer for every type of community. It is absolutely going to vary on all of the different dependencies that both Mark and I are discussing here. Community size, tech setup, cost, demographics. This is something that is very different from when virtual meetings launched. Virtual meetings had a very structured format. It was working with the service provider. Working with Zoom. Working with GoTo Meeting. Everyone receives the invites. Everyone logs in. There are new variables now. Mark introduced some interesting topics here that I know we're going to discuss, reconciliation. How do you do voting in paper and electronic? That depends again on community by community. We're having these discussions everyday with our clients and we have not at least, and we've done hundreds of these now, we have not found a single answer that is going to suit everyone. We have a checklist that we can go through with you as a needs by needs basis and that's what we're going to see. I also think that opens up a very unique opportunity is your going to create a bespoke AGM specific to the needs of your community. As board member, as a property manager, that's something that you can take pride in and something that you can really build and strive to do so within that organization or without a corporation.
Rod: Give me an example, Adam, and I know you folks have the sort of hybrid meeting, I know you don't like the word, but hybrid meeting in a box.
Adam: It's the word we have.
Rod: Turnkey operation, so give me an example of one where you have a lot of AV, audio visual equipment, involved. Like money's no real object, what does it look like?
Adam: There's really three categories. One is you set up the laptop and a few people huddle around the laptop or the iPad. We've been seeing that throughout the pandemic. We saw owners meeting in person at someone's kitchen table within the community hall, within the boardroom, in the basement of the condo. That's been happening. That opens up unique complexities with reconciliation and voting. That's the most basic model. It works for small groups, as long as you're using technology to do so some sort of reconciliation to get accurate quorum counts, accurate motions. That's going to be true for all of these categories.
Adam: The second one is something that CondoVoter's offering, and this is an out of the box hybrid meeting, and what it is essentially is a briefcase, literally, that is sent to your location and it includes all of the equipment required for a hybrid meeting of anywhere between 50 to 100 people. 100 people is probably pushing it but we've done some like that. It's going to depend. Certainly between 25 and 75 it's great experience. It comes with, and your going to require this, laptops. It comes with multiple webcams, microphones, projectors, projector screen, all of the setup requirements, as well as instructions on where to position that in the room. We also have onsite tech that we can provide to that will come on and actually complete all of that setup. That's your middle category. That's very cost effective. Your looking in the range of anywhere from $300 to $500 dollars for that experience. Then you go into the third category which is working with outsourced AV providers. I believe Mark's team has partners in this as well as CondoVoter. This is a more expensive, but you used the term yesterday, Rod, I love it. The Hollywood experience is the lights, the cameras, the perfect setup audio technicians. This is really good for corporations that are going to have 100 or plus attending physically. It's an event. It's very similar to attending a wedding, as an example, where you have microphones and hosts and DJs set up and everything. It's very fun. It's a great production but that can be very, very cost
Rod: More costly, anyways.
Adam: Thank you, yes.
Rod: Yeah, yeah. Okay. I'm going to share a couple of things on my screen but not with the sound because the sound is awful. Let me see if I can unclick this. Somebody wrote to me when we were preparing for this. Am I sharing now? What do we see? I have no idea what we're seeing. Yeah, let me just, I have no idea what I was sharing for a second. This is always a bit nerve-wracking. What about now? Do you see
Graeme: Owl Labs.
Rod: Okay so that's something that somebody wrote to us about and so it's like kind of a mini camera. It looks like a thermos almost, and you put it at the front or in the middle of the table, and you can see on the left side of the screen how this Owl Lab camera does all the cutting for you and you get to zoom into the board and whoever is speaking, as opposed to if you compare it to the right, it's what it would look like from your laptop if you just had the laptop plopped there kind of thing.
Adam: Sorry to interject here. This is the equipment that we use in our hybrid out of the box solution. It works incredibly well. The motion detection allows people to focus in on who's asking questions. Whether the Chair is speaking. Whether there's motion in the room. This goes a long way in providing that seamless blended experience where, even if you're attending virtually, you see exactly what's going on within that room. It's a very cool experience.
Rod: Right, and somebody, and this is a sound that I'm sparing you, somebody here is kind of showing what it looks like, and I guess you can also project people that are connecting virtually, no? Is that what you see, Adam?
Adam: That's exactly it. So this is a great example, really. You'll have that projector. It's set up typically at the front of the room where you can see whether that's your auditor who's attending virtually presenting, or you can see the individuals who are asking questions virtually up on the screen. So again it goes back to connecting both of those audiences, both physically, virtually and through audio.
Rod: Okay, wonderful. I hope you weren't hearing here because I could hear her. Could you hear her? No.? Good. The images are great but I mean it's going to put you to sleep. But thankfully we have Adam to give us the quick and dirty summary. So that's fantastic. Okay, so that's great. What's next? We spoke about this. We spoke about that. There's a couple of things that both of you raised. One of them is registration and I'm going to start with you, Mark, and you also have a little video. So I'm going to bring you to the video and you'll be able to share and walk us through. If you're going to have people that are going to show up in person, you're going to have people that are going to vote electronically and not show up at all, and you'll have people that will show up, connecting virtually, registrations going to be a nightmare here. How do you do it, Mark?
Mark: That's a great, great concern to bring up, Rod, and the way you described it described it perfectly because it is such a challenging endeavour for hybrid meetings. That really showcases the complexity of these types of meetings. Accounting for who's in person? Who's voting via proxy? Who's keeping their proxy? Who's revoking their proxy? Who wants to vote live during the meeting. Who's attending virtually? These are all important questions that everyone needs to account for when hosting a hybrid meeting. That's why what Rod's about to show you is a beta test of what our new registration tool looks like, which is going to be available to everyone in the next week or so, and this streamlines the process by accounting for all those unique factors.
Rod: Right. So set it up. So this is how people would register and I take it, Mark, that people would register in advance or in person or do you have an iPad at the door, at the meeting room?
Mark: So there's a combination of both, Rod. So what we're going to show everyone here today is the administrative view. So this would be the property manager, board members, perhaps a volunteer. Attendees will have the option to register beforehand the meeting, so if they show off their phone, just as you would a Ticketmaster ticket for example, I'm all setup. I'm voting online. I'm good to go. That's awesome. They also too, for those that are less tech savvy, could set up a laptop or an iPad and be registered at the front desk. This is the app that we're going to be showing today.
Rod: Okay. So it only lasts a minute. I'm going to start it.
Mark: Only a minute?
Rod: Yeah and so walk us through.
Mark: Yeah, for sure. So it starts in by logging in with your secure user ID as the administrator in the GetQuorum app. You get to see there and click on my meetings. We only have one meeting. Instantly brings you to the statistics of the meeting in real time which are updated for attendees who voted by proxy, who's in person or virtual attendance. You can see there a list of everyone that's registered for the meeting. You're able to search by unit number, first name, last name. For super quick searches you could scroll down. Kind of go through everyone. You can have people do that themselves. You could see here that an individual that actually has a proxy on file. They're in the meeting but they're going to keep their proxy, which is they're now checked in, so they're keeping the proxy for the meeting. What we're going to go to next is actually someone that's going to be registering to vote live during the meeting. So we're going to click on Hudson in about 2 seconds. Check him into the meeting. He's going to be voting electronically by GetQuorum, with the help of our mobile app. He's all checked in and he'll now be able to use our real time voting app for live voting during the meeting. All updated in real time with the dashboard.
Rod: This shows you what I usually listen to on Facebook, The Golden Girls and the Sister Act. Let me just see there was a point where, because you showed us a lot of stuff here, but there was a point that was really about, well anyways. For the user it's just the last part that you discussed, right? For the user is you log in, you check in, you indicate how you will vote and that's it. Bob's your uncle. Now you may have notice, people at home, that Adam was not taking notes. He's not taking notes because, tell us about your setup, Adam.
Adam: Mark, a great demo of how technology is really going to enable these hybrid meetings. CondoVoter has a very similar registration screen. We've been using it throughout the course of the year for both physical meetings and hybrid meetings. Yes, some physical meetings are happening now. What it solves, as Mark has highlighted, is the ability to reconcile and this is the most challenging part of a hybrid meeting. When you have owners who are ultimately going to attend in person, they're going to demand that they want a paper ballot, it's very hard to tell them no or disenfranchise their vote. Which of course none of us want to do. The functionality is very similar to that. CondoVoter has to get, or we do have a few differences, in that we have QR codes that also allow you to scan and receive your ballots and your proxies as well. Something else that we do too, a little differently, is we also have virtual moderators who will staff the registration desk. So the number one challenge with implementing any software, especially in communities where your demographics are so vast, is the useability of that software. The ability for someone to be able to determine very quickly what they're supposed to do at that registration desk. What we can do, much like we're hosting this meeting today, is the registration desk can be a shared screen, as Rod was sharing his screen before, and now a moderator, much like myself, will appear in the bottom right corner to actually assist and walk people through that registration process. So what we're trying to do is push the envelope and taking what we've learned virtually, we know the moderator system is very helpful in that capacity, and it extending it to those who are going to attend in person. Furthermore we're actually doing that with onsite moderators as well, to attend physically, to assist in reconciliation of paper ballots or proxies.
Rod: Right. Okay, wonderful. We're going to talk about the voting challenge. So far we were focused on the registration challenge and both of you have helped us a lot in understanding what they are and why it's important to address them properly. What about, Adam, you're talking about a virtual moderator or even a virtual sort of registration desk, what about have you though of sending someone physically over there? Or do you train the property managers to do it ahead of time? At one point there's going to be a room with real people. Some of these people are going to line up. How do you tackle that?
Adam: Yeah, great question. I love that you have a habit of answering them as you ask the question. You set the stage for me. It makes it very easy. Thank you, Rod. We are sending people, physically, onsite. This is mostly within the GTA right now, as a pilot project. We are looking at extending it across Canada for the areas that we're servicing. We've seen it widely used successfully. This is, again, just an evolution of what we learned during the pandemic is that an AGM requires a lot of hands and typically that is volunteers, it is board members, it is the property manager, for the most part, and having a cost effective method for someone to be able to further support that meeting can be beneficial. We are providing that in the form of onsite both moderators and registration assistants.
Rod: Okay. Perfect. So now let's move onto the voting validation. So we had to validate the registration. Now we need to validate voting. Both of you have indicated that some people will want to vote in paper and, in fact, Edward in the chat says, and he's not that old, in fact he's quite young, and he says, but I trust paper. First question, what do you see in the future? How do you sort of merge these various ways of voting? I'm going to start maybe with you, Mark. How do you see this? How do you validate this? How do you cross-reference? How does that work?
Mark: To start off, Rod, paper's unfortunately not going away. We do believe that technology is the future and that's why we developed the tools we do for both the live electronic voting, as well as the advance and proxy voting, to make it super user friendly. Super secure for all owners. But we're aware that paper proxies and paper ballots are still a thing and many will still opt to use them. So our solution for that is, number one, honour the right to use it and account for and streamline as much as possible. We do have tools that help property managers as far as digitizing that information, if they're allowed to, while still honouring the opportunity to cast a paper ballot, if the owner wishes to. By using platforms such as our registration tool that I've just shown and the ability to account for who's voted via proxy ahead of the meeting, who wishes to vote via paper ballot during the meeting, or who would wish to revoke the paper proxy and vote electronically. Our system's able to account for those unique factors, ensure there's no duplicate entries or any errors when tabulating those ballots.
Rod: Okay. Adam, what can you add to that? I know you guys are big, GetQuorum as well, but I mean you guys are big on advance voting. People will show up and they'll want to vote. How does that work?
Adam: Yeah, Mark did a very good job of highlighting the biggest complexity which is if they've already submitted a proxy, if they've already submitted an advance vote, now they're attending in person and they want to change their vote but they don't have a device to do so. Or they're used to receiving a paper ballot so just out of convenience they want to receive the paper ballot. Edward, I think you're a fantastic example of this. You prefer it so absolutely you're going to want it and you're going to want to use it when you attend the meeting. But if you had voted in advance already, and you might have because that's a very convenient method, then the system, we're going to have to do this manually which is near impossible, has to reconcile that that advance vote either needs to be revoked or it needs to updated or it needs to be changed with that paper ballot. This is something that would be very difficult to do on your own if you're not using some form of technology to complete that reconciliation. Mark's demo is a great example of how that can work. Our system works very similar. It's a few button clicks. It's that simple. It's very intuitive. You click that mark, that proxy is revoked, that advance vote is revoked, you implement the paper ballot. Now what happens with that paper ballot? Well someone needs to scrutinize it the way that it would be done previously and that's typically going to be a volunteer. Now we have different ways that you can enter that into the system for immediate reconciliation but actually what we're finding works the best, because it's the most convenient, is you just take that tally of the in person votes and you add it to the tally that the moderator is going to be provide you of the virtual votes, because you know that we've already eliminated any duplicates. We have an audit log to provide that as well if anything is ever challenged.
Rod: Right. I'm going to tell you I think what's going to happen is this, is that people are going to vote electronically, the majority I suspect will actually want to go electronically, certainly those that vote in advance or vote electronically, and those who vote in person there's going to be sort of this nagging sort of doubt as to what's in that big black vortex there. Like what happened there? The other thing that's going to happen is that I voted electronically, or I'm about to vote live electronically on my phone, and we walk in and we see that some people have ballots and I don't have a paper ballot. Suddenly I'm thinking, oh my goodness. I want a paper ballot too and suddenly all the lemmings are going to go towards the paper because they're in the room and Jane has a ballot. How come I don't have a ballot? That's going to be very hard, I think, you really need to have a robust system in place for people to trust the outcome at the end of the day. That their vote, either the live one on my phone or the one I did in advance or the proxy that I submitted, you need to have a very robust system for people to trust that all of these numbers are actually meeting and merging and being considered.
Adam: Rod, if I can just quickly add to. We're spending a lot of time on this topic which makes sense because this is the most common question that we're being asked from the clients. How do you we deal with this? In practice, what we're finding, is the paper ballots are very rarely being used. It's not a large group of individuals. It is one or two who's more conveniently, or more comfortably, looking for that option. But this is the biggest challenge and it's the biggest question being asked right now. How do we reconcile this?
Rod: Okay, and the 1,000 dollar question here, I'm going to launch another poll if I'm able to figure it out, about voting. So the question is this, because there's two schools of thoughts about advance voting, should electronic voting be allowed in advance of the meeting or should voting only take place at the meeting? I don't know if anybody's nervous around the table as to the answers. I know how I'd vote, that's for sure. Well, actually, I voted already on that poll. I voted in advance.
Adam: I might bias the poll here but Ontario is unique in the jurisdiction in that we are allowed to advance vote. We operate in a number of areas where this isn't an option at all. So it is very interesting that we even have the option to begin with.
Rod: Right. I'm actually surprised. It's closer than I thought. 40% say live voting at the meeting only and about 60% say advance voting. As I said, I'm a bit surprised, but that's fine and I respect the outcome. What are the benefits of advance voting? I'm going to ask Adam that, and Mark, your question is going to be tougher. What are the benefits of proxy voting? Adam, start with the
Adam: You're making it easy on my today, Rod. I'm the returnee. Let's help Mark. The advantages are convenience, first and foremost. It's convenient to be able to vote whenever you want, from any device that you want, from anywhere that you want. It's very hard to disagree with that as a focus. What we're also seeing as a result of that ability is greater diversity on the board for different individuals being elected and inclusivity for all owners within the community. Single parents, shift workers, non-owner occupants, snowbirds, individuals who typically would not be onsite to attend the meeting and to vote in real time, live, are now participating. We've drastically seen the numbers of participants increase over the past few years. I mentioned yesterday in our pre-session that if we compare a similar community that does not allow for advance voting with one that does, the amount of participation is less than half. Quite often what we see is them maybe not even achieving quorum on their first attempt because of that.
Rod: Mark, what about the proxy? Not so much maybe the paper one but what are the benefits of the proxies? Does it still have a place?
Mark: Yeah, it definitely does still have a place and to reiterate some points that Adam made about the advance vote, because they do lie very similar as far as the benefits when doing electronically. It's the approved convenience and what we're seeing is the uptick in participation. People actually fulfilling the proxies were many times when it was a paper based process, they'd be pushed to the wayside but having convenient tools like a CondoVoter or GetQuorum makes it a super streamlined process, increases that participation, that turn-out and makes the obstacle for many communities of achieving quorum a mere, mere wayside where it is not a challenge at all.
Rod: Right, right. Now it's no secret that I'm not a big fan of proxies. Other than for quorum I'm totally against them. But I fell off my chair this weekend when I found out that the municipal election actually allow proxy, voting by proxy. I've been telling everybody that there's no democracy that respects itself, that allows you to give your vote to someone else. Well apparently at the municipal level that is permitted. But I'm going to say a couple of things that they have that's telling. The first thing is that the municipal proxy is one page. The fully extended CAO proxy is 8 pages. Now don't tell me I'm not being fair because it's not always fully expanded but it doesn't matter. It's a very complicated document as opposed to the municipal one. The second thing that's of interest, and this to me is one of the major problems with a condo proxy, is that at the municipal level any one given person can only ever have and hold one proxy. You're not going to have the condo commando showing up with a hockey bag full of proxies, that they've done their slide sort of campaign, and you have no idea how they voted or what information they gave. That to me is problematic that John, this is a fictitious name, is able or carries 40 votes. Him. He's not carrying someone else's vote. He's just voting 40 times. So at the municipal level that's not permitted and the last check and balance at the municipal level is that the proxy holder has to go to the municipality and they have to get the City Clerk, they swear in front of the City Clerk some documentation, like I will exercise the vote properly, XYZ. I am not a proxy for someone else. So you get the stamp from the municipality. I don't think this is very practical in the condo world but in any event that gives you an idea the checks and balances in place in other jurisdictions that allow proxy voting. Next topic, I'm keeping an eye on the clock because David has to do some heavy legal lifting. What would be the challenges when you're setting yourself up, psyching yourself up to do a hybrid meeting? What would be the challenges? Maybe I'll start with you, Adam. What obstacles or challenges people should sort of turn their minds to? I think you're muted.
Adam: Of course. Thank you. There's three categories and we touched on them all here is, first and foremost, it's equipment. That's going to depend based off your setup, based off of how many individuals are going to attend, based off of your costs availability. The second is reconciliation. Are you going to allow for people to vote by paper ballot? If you are, how are you going to reconcile that? Then the third is that seamless experience. How do you ensure that those who are attending, virtually and in person, are being treated equally? This largely will come down to that equipment setup, the reconciliation and the third pillar is going to be your meeting Chair. This is where we're actually finding, on a personal level, the biggest challenge is Chairs are now being put into a situation where, not only do they need to be attentive to the environment that they're in, but also attentive to the environment that's happening seamlessly next to them, or within the same meeting itself, the complimentary meeting. That I think is going to be a learning curve. Much like we saw at the beginning of the pandemic virtual meetings. It was a learning curve for Chairs to adjust. Graeme and David, and Rod, I have to give the three of you credit. I think across Canada you've probably done some of the most virtual meetings and I know that you're experts in that now. I recall us being on meetings together when we were first launching, and the back and forth that was happening privately, as we worked together to learn and to evolve that process. These hybrid meetings now are going to have a very similar learning curve. Again, to me, that poses an opportunity. How can we improve the AGM by changing these dynamics up slightly?
Rod: Right. You're absolutely right. At the beginning we jumped out of the plane. We started sewing the parachute on the way down. It was like how does that work?
Adam: We had no choice.
Rod: Exactly. Mark, anything to add to that? Maybe especially with respect to Chairs. What are the challenges for them? How do they overcome them? Because you're right. You're going to be tempted to sort of focus on either the virtual side or not the virtual side. What can you add to that?
Mark: I think Adam said some very valuable points and they are all very valid challenges, but one thing I will mention is, truly recognizing that a hybrid meeting is different than a virtual or in person meeting. It's quite arguably the most sophisticated of all three, because of that complex nature to ensure that whether you have an in person attendee or virtual attendee, they're given equal opportunity to participate. It's a seamless opportunity where everyone's voices are heard. They're able to participate and it's a seamless experience for everyone involved. That's a fairly large workload on the Chair as well to demand that. But by using the proper service providers, whether it's through the electronic voting, AV, and even the housekeeping which comes out to properly planning and holding dress rehearsal. These are all unique things to a hybrid meeting that must be accounted for and must be treated as such. It's not just a virtual meeting with some in person attendees, or an in person meetings with the virtual components, this is a complete different meeting as a whole. It's to be treated as such and planned for accordingly.
Rod: Absolutely. I don't think that you can sort of improvise it and wing it. I think they're even more complex than just virtual and imagine virtual initially people found them a bit daunting. But in this case, you're right. There's multi layers here. David, and I'll get back to both Adam and Mark when we do the closing remarks, but David, you have a couple of minutes to cover some relevant case law with respect to these meetings.
David: Yes, so as the virtual world took us by storm, as did the decisions before the Condo Tribunal and as well as at Superior Court, so I'm just going to touch on a couple of them and someone had asked the question in the chat about this. So the first one is, are owners entitled to video or audio recordings of their virtual AGM? And, originally, the answer was no but I changed it to maybe because it really depends on the purpose of the recordings. So in this case before the Tribunal an owner sought audio recordings and draft minutes for two prior AGMs and their stated purpose was to dispute their accuracy and the integrity of the minutes. So it wasn't a records request, per se, it was I want to catch the board in a gotcha, or the Chair or whatever it was. The CAT ruled that in that specific case the recordings were not considered records of the corporation because they fell outside the purpose of the Condo Act. But kind of left open the possibility that these recordings may be records in other cases. So I think we just need to cautious of advising owners of the purpose of the recording when we start the meeting. Often we'll say, "It's being recorded just so you know, but these are strictly for the minute taker to then be able to go back and properly minute take and then they'll be deleted afterwards." It will be very difficult, I would think, if you keep that recording for 5 more years in our corporate records to then claim they're not really records of the corporation. It's a little counter-intuitive.
Rod: Right. I think that's the important takeaway. If the purpose is for minute taking, well you may need to delete it, because otherwise at one point they do become part of the records of the corporation. So the next question then, David, are owners entitled to the draft AGM minutes?
David: This comes up quite a bit because typically you will get the minutes in the package for the following AGM, which is the following year, and sometimes someone makes a records request, or if they need information faster than that they'll request it. So the straight and dirty answer is no, owners are not entitled to them, because draft minutes are not records of the corp until they are approved. That makes sense because they're draft minutes. They could be addressed at the next AGM. They can be amended. They can be changed and approved so that's when they become a record. But you may opt to circulate draft versions earlier for all sorts of reasons, especially in the context of perhaps if a records request, if it makes sense in the circumstances, but you've always got to be aware with multiple drafts being circulated. There may be some confusion there about what is the actual decision that was made on a particular issue.
Rod: Right. I think you have a third question.
David: And I'll do it one minute because we had talked about this in a previous webinar but it's also very relevant here. So are owner's entitled to demand a neutral Chair? This was a case that went to Superior Court because it was effectively injunctive relief before a meeting had happened. The quick answer on that is, no, technically, legally speaking, not pro-actively. You can't go to Court as the group of owners did here and demand a different Chair for a meeting that is about to happen because they had some beliefs that the Chair was somehow partisan, or wasn't going to be neutral, but the Court viewed it very skeptically. They said, "We don't know what's going to happen at the meeting. I'm not just going to assume", said the Judge, I'm summarizing here, "that something wrong is going to happen or there's going to mismanagement of the meeting. If something bad happens come back to me afterwards and contest the meeting or the results of the meeting." But again, the best practice is to first check your governing documents to see who can be Chair and how that Chair is appointed. Consider having a Chair who's respected and perceived to be neutral and consider retaining a third party to Chair the meeting, especially if you're doing that with one of the service providers already or with legal counsel, and if you are running for election you may consider yourself not Chairing at all, or delegating the election portion to someone else. So there's no perceived conflict of interest there as well.
Rod: Okay. A couple of quick questions. I think we have time for it. One of the questions has to do with scrutineers and how do we sort of tackle the scrutineers in the virtual world. The quick answer is that the scrutineers are not required under the Act, under the Condo Act. They were practically required because you needed to have somebody count the ballots and, of course, you didn't want the candidates to be counting the ballots. The community, the ownership, would agree it's going to be David, it's going to be Graeme, that are going to be counting the ballots. But there's no requirement to have scrutineers. What we often do in the virtual and hybrid world, if you're going to have CondoVoter or GetQuorum, the central that grabs all the votes, and receives all the votes, and holds them and processes them, they've got to be the scrutineer, at the end of the day. It makes no sense to do it any other way, and truly, they couldn't care less who gets elected. They don't care. It's the most neutral scrutineer to have the service provider do it. So that's one of the questions.
Another question that we often hear is, what if people get selectively muted? I'm going to say a couple of things about that. First, it's all in how you do it. Everybody should have the opportunity to be heard but no one has the right to highjack a meeting. So what would happen sometimes in the old days, is that someone would just keep screaming and talking louder, and taking over the meeting and not letting go. Once somebody has said their piece once, and twice, we eventually need to move on. So even in the real in person world, normally the proper process is for the speaker to be recognized by the Chair. I recognize you. Your hand is up, David, go ahead. Then eventually at one point the Chair says, "Okay, David. We heard you. That's the sixth time you raised this. We need to move on." But unfortunately some people don't hear that. They miss that day in Kindergarten where we learned to be nice to one another and so then they just repeat and they just take over the meeting.
So we're running out of time. Quickly, as usual, I'm going to ask as sort of we part, I'm going to go around the table, thank my speakers and, Adam and Mark, the question for you will be, give us a couple of dos and don't, basically, when dealing with hybrids. Those are going to be your parting words. So I'm going to start in reverse alphabetical order, Mark. I'm going to start with you, Mark DiPinto. He is with GetQuorum. That's fantastic information you gave us, Mark. You're an amazing speaker. I hope we get to have you again on this show. Hope you liked it. And, Mark, some dos and don'ts about going hybrid.
Mark: First off thank you, Rod, for having me and thank you, everyone, for today's presentation. But to end it off on some dos for your hybrid meeting, number one, be prepared. We talked a lot about preparing to be specific for the hybrid meeting. That it's definitely the number one rule when it comes to doing a hybrid meeting effectively. Number two, choose the right solution. Whether it's electronic voting, the virtual meeting portion of registration. Choose a robust solution; that it's sophisticated enough to meet your condominium needs. The third is have the proper AV preparation. Will you want to do a big Hollywood production, as Rod says, or do you want to do a more smaller intimate production? Maybe the Owl for example. Make sure that you're getting the equipment you need to run a successful meeting.
Rod: Yeah, absolutely. So thank you again, Mark. Adam. Adam Arcuri from CondoVoter, regular speaker, what are dos and/or don'ts?
Adam: Yeah, Rod, first of all thank you for having me here. Always a pleasure. I really like the format where we can have both myself and someone from somewhere come on. I think it makes for a very dynamic panel. The number one do, this hasn't changed from virtual meetings, keep your database of record up to date. Make sure your owners' lists are up to date. Make sure you have emails. If you don't have emails work with your provider to get emails. If you don't have emails get a phone number. We can do voting by telephone now. We've been offering that for a few years. It's a fantastic feature. The second do is, do a trial run. Make sure that you test that AV equipment, whether you're working with a provider or not, before the meeting. Do not allow the practice session or the meeting itself to be the first time you actually try it within the room. And the final don't is, don't limit one audience or the other. That can sometimes be tricky. We're going to learn from that throughout the experiences as hybrids become more prevalent. We're going to have new technology that's going to assist with that. But do your best, do or don't, don't limit those attendees one way or another. Thanks, Rod.
Rod: Thank you. Okay, so now I'm going to turn to my two condo twins, Graeme MacPherson, condo lawyer extraordinaire with Gowling WLG, parting words?
Graeme: I guess my parting word is also going to be a don't. It's don't knock it until you try it. We were all pretty worked up about how virtual meetings were going to look and I think everyone was a little hesitant about them in early 2020. Now as we can see, based on our audience here, most people tended to prefer virtual. Try not to be afraid of it and that's for owners, managers, board members or even anyone who's going to Chair a meeting in the audience today.
Rod: Okay, wonderful. Thank you so much. David Plotkin, our other twin. David, parting words?
David: I didn't have much more to add than that. That's what I was going to go with. We all though virtual meetings were scary when they started and we all figured them out. Now we get quorum all the time when we often had issues doing that. Embrace the change.
Rod: Yeah, for sure. Thank you so much. Okay, everybody. We are going to take a break next month. Yom Kippur is an important celebration so we're going to take a break next month. We're going to come back on November 2 and you will need to register again. To register for these webinars, at one point we're going to post sort of what's the topic. I actually kind of know the topic. I'm aiming for a special episode on noise complaints and we're going to have a noise expert that's going to tell us what you test, and how you test it, and so on and so forth. Anyways, when the time comes you'll be able to register by clicking on the webinar tab on CondoAdviser and then you'll follow the prompts and you'll be able to get the link as you did today. Thank you very much, everybody. Thanks for joining us again this time around. We're a bit over 6 o'clock by 2 minutes. We don't take your time for granted. We love doing these for you guys and so hopefully you are taking something away from them. Thank you. Have a great evening and see you in 2 months.