President’s Report: AGM (Tuesday, November 13, 2018.)
Good Evening Everyone,
and thanks for joining us for our Fifth Annual General Meeting. I’m happy to announce that we’ve reached quorum for this meeting as of the previous Friday, thanks to all of the Owners who submitted their proxy forms.
As part of the proxy collection, we offered the Owners who submit their proxies by Friday, November 9 at 4:30 p.m. a chance to win one of three $50 gift cards. Caroline will be announcing the winners now:
Winner 1: Esther S.
Winner 2: Jo Ting S.
Winner 3: Nabat H.
I’d also like to thank the staff who helped me collect proxies last week – Doug, Jason, Jennifer, Ozzy, and Edward, and last but not least, Kevin, our Board Treasurer. Because of the proxies collected, our meeting can proceed as planned, which helps us save both time and money as we won’t have to reschedule.
Usually, our AGM’s are in September; however, this year the AGM had to be held later due to the change in Property Management companies and the audit taking a little longer than usual. Our priority is an AGM that is thorough and productive, and as such, we felt that is was better to be late but to do it right- hopefully, you agree.
I’d like to officially start this meeting by introducing everyone:
First of all, we have Deborah Howden, who is a Partner at Shibley Righton L.L.P., and will also be the Chair of tonight’s meeting. I’ve had the pleasure of working with Deborah for the last 5 years, and together we’ve fought hard to ensure this Corporation’s legal battles represent what our Owners deserve.
Secondly, we have someone who has attended all of our AGMs so far: Rob Parker, our Auditor from “Parker, Garber, and Chesney”, now renamed “Yale PGC”. We are lucky that we’ve had the same Auditor and auditing company since our building was first turned over, as that continuity is important to everyone.
This AGM, I’m presenting a different Management company– City Sites Property Management; you’ll notice that there are both new and familiar faces. For those who attended our “Meet and Greet”, all are familiar – but I’ll introduce everyone nonetheless.
I’ll start with Nicholas Chirametli, the Vice-President of City Sites. I met Nicholas almost a year ago, when the Board started keeping an eye out for different Property Management companies. Unlike other companies that we were considering, City Sites came heavily recommended by several of our existing contractors. From that first meeting, Nicholas thoroughly impressed me and quickly went on to equally impress the rest of our Board and every one of our staff members.
A face you may be missing is that of Chris, the Property Manager who began when City Sites took over the contract. Chris was an important part of the team during the turnover from Del Property Management to City Sites, and we thank him for his assistance during those couple of months.
It has always been the Board’s intention to eventually promote Caroline Coitino once she was ready to take over the role. She has been an integral part of this building for the past 4 years, and in the condo industry for 8 years. Caroline is a fast learner who gained our trust and confidence early on, and we’re proud to announce that as of last Monday, she was promoted to Property Manager. Congratulations, Caroline!
Another part of the Management team – a member that is familiar to the building yet new to City Sites, is Edward Chin. Many of you may recognize him from his time with us as Security.
When Nicholas asked me if there’s anyone I’d recommend as an Administrator and already has knowledge of the building, Edward was an easy choice due to his strong work ethic and excellent customer service skills. Congratulations to you, too, Edward… we look forward to working together in your new office!
The role of Director isn’t always easy – there are many challenges and learning opportunities that come with this volunteer position – but we’ve always pushed through. I am happy that our Board is a good team, thanks to the contributions of our Board Treasurer, Ryan Moxam, and Kevin Winson, our Secretary.
As we get close to the end of our introductions, I’d like to introduce Douglas Carney, our live-in Superintendent, and Jason Lockton, our second Superintendent. They’ve been maintaining the building reliably, and have often contributed to my Blog about behind-the-scenes building matters that Residents may want to know about.
I’d also like to introduce Ozzy Bonilla, our part-time “general labourer” who helps us with all sorts of odds and ends, and often supervises parties and elevator bookings.
Finally, we have our Recording Secretary, who will be writing minutes about this meeting, as is done every year.
Thank you to all of the staff for being here and prepared to help us answer any questions that Residents may have later tonight.
Before we move on to the rest of the President’s Report, I’d like to propose a change to the agenda in order to give Rob the opportunity to share his Auditor’s Report. His time is valuable, and so we’d like to make the night as efficient as possible for him, as he often has multiple AGM’s in one evening. Is anyone opposed to this change?
Just before we turn it over to Rob, I’d like to tackle a question that we received during our Meet and Greet event. The question was whether we should look at a different auditor, and to see if anyone has better rates. We did look at other options a few years ago, and Parker, Garber, and Chesney was the best price then.
As mentioned during that AGM and when I began this Report, consistency with auditors is important and beneficial to the building, and as such, the Board does not recommend that we switch; however, ultimately, appointing an auditor is the choice of the owners, therefore we can further explore this matter after Rob’s report.
Introductions - Continued
Moving along with our AGM, I’d like to give a few people the opportunity to introduce themselves in greater depth than I did earlier. We’ll begin with Nicholas Chirametli, followed by Caroline Coitino, and, last but not least, Edward Chin.
Speech by Caroline Coitino:
"Thank you, Andreea, for that wonderful introduction.
As many of you know, I’m Caroline Coitino, and I’ve been with Emerald City One for the past four years as your Administrator and Assistant Property Manager. During this time, I have come to know many of our wonderful residents on both a professional and personal level. I have also learned so many valuable lessons that have made me grow and achieve my goals within this community.
I want to give thanks to our Board - without their encouragement and guidance I wouldn't have been able to grow and gain a sense of confidence that has helped me in interacting with Residents concerns in a respectful and professional manner.
I know this year has been full of surprises and a rollercoaster ride with the changing of Management companies and also of managers, but I believe that the Board made the correct choice by selecting City Sites Property Management.
I met City Sites a few months ago, and have now been their employee for two and a half months. Like the Board, City Sites, and especially Nicholas, has invested a lot of time and patience in helping me train and gain more knowledge. Because of all this guidance, I know that I will live up to everyone’s expectations, so for this I want to say 'thank you'."
Speech by Edward Chin:
"Good Evening Everyone,
Thank you all for the opportunity to speak, and to address each and every one in attendance.
My name is Edward Chin. I am certain that some of you may have recognized me as you previous swing shift and patrol concierge. My goal as an administrator is to ensure the highest quality of customer service is provided, to maintain and expand upon the current exceptional standards set by my predecessors, and to ensure safety and continuance of enrichment in our 70 Forest Manor Road community.
Please feel free to stop by the management office for any assistance, I will be prompt and available to assist between the hours 9-5, Monday to Friday.
One important change that we’ve made this year was moving from Del Property Management to City Sites. After much consideration and feedback from Residents, we felt that we needed to switch to a company that better understood our needs and that of our Owners and Residents. As I previously mentioned, City Sites came highly recommended by many of our current contracts, and so we explored them along with a few other options. We felt that, as a medium-sized company, City Sites would be more attentive to our needs and responsive to our concerns. So far, we’ve been working together very well, and I anticipate a productive future ahead.
A deciding factor for us was that City Sites was quick to also realize Caroline’s immense potential, and Nicholas immediately began mentoring her, ensuring that she receives the necessary training to achieve her goal position as Property Manager at Emerald City One. It is thanks to Caroline’s hard work and Nicholas’ expert guidance that we are confident Caroline will do a great job managing our homes and investment.
We are also happy to have Edward as part of our Management team, as we know he is a bright and energetic worker who will not only work well alongside Caroline, but also use his customer service experience to serve our Residents and contractors well.
Speaking of the Management Office, some of you may have seen that we’ve been making more than staff changes in there – we’ve begun the refurbishments and betterments of the office, too. Following a moderate leak that we had in March, the office sustained a considerable amount of damage to the walls and floors. As such, some parts of the walls and flooring had to be removed due to the water damage.
The Board had long been considering ways of improving the flow and functionality of the office space, and since it had to be fixed following the leak anyways, we decided that this would be the perfect time to also commence the betterments as it would be more time-efficient and cost-effective. We anticipate the office to be fully finished and back in order within the next two weeks.
Part of Management’s job is enforce the Corporation’s Rules. During the last few months, the Board has spent a great amount of time examining all rules and proposing changes that are more appropriate for the Corporation, many of which were suggested by Residents. Once the Management Office is in order, we’ll be sending out the Proposed Rules Package.
Speaking of rules, we’d like to remind everyone that the Cannabis Consumption Rule has passed for our Condominium, details of which can be found on our blog.
Communication via Blog
While on the topic of our Blog, I’d like to stress that this is our most thorough and in-depth method of communication with Residents. In previous years, Residents asked for a better line of communication from Management and/or the Board. Our Blog has been active since January 2016 – nearly two years now – and has accumulated over 140 posts.
In fact, thanks to Deborah, our Blog was featured in “Advocate Daily”, and then in a follow-up interview by “Condo Business Magazine”, the latter of which is due for publishing by the end of this week. Our Cannabis Rule has also been featured in a few publications, from NOW Magazine to The Toronto Star.
It seems like our Blog is rippling across the province, which is amazing; however, our primary audience is - and always has been - our Owners, whether on- or off-site, and our Residents. We invite you to check in to the Blog as often as possible, as new posts are usually published at least once a week.
Workplace Harassment & Legal Matters
One of our more important blog posts is regarding the “Workplace Harassment Safety and Security Seminar” that we had on March 28th, 2018. We’d like to remind everyone that we have a strict “0 Tolerance” policy for Workplace Harassment at Emerald City One.
One of our usual topics for discussion at AGM’s is updates on legal matters; I’ll touch on these in chronological order.
Flood of 2014
We are still looking at collecting from the Developer for the deductible of $100,000, and any remaining costs. This matter is a bit more complicated due to subrogation issues, and, as such, I think it is better if Deborah provides everyone with a quick summary of where we are with the Flood of 2014 claim.
We wish this matter were wrapped up – and even built up – by now, but, unfortunately, both the Corporation and the Developer are still waiting on The City of Toronto’s approvals so that we can begin the next steps.
The Municipal Tax Claim – A Success!
The Municipal Tax Claim was successfully won towards the end of 2017, and Original Owners were given 6 months to provide the Management Office with their claim(s) for the refunds. The deadline for refund claims was at April 30th, 2018, after which remaining monies became part of the Corporation’s fund. This money helped keep all of our maintenance fees lower by reducing the 2018-2019 fees by 4-5% for everyone!
For nine months about a year ago, Owners and tenants whose apartments were served by the 06-Riser were left without air conditioning and heat due to the Developer and their builder(s) not anchoring the 06-Riser properly, causing it to fail. During this time, the Board, Management, and Legal pushed the Developer for the proper fixes; however, they did not cooperate as expected. As such, the Corporation is looking to recover its substantial costs by suing the Developer.
Another issue that we have is extreme build-up in our drain pipes due to Residents dumping things down the drain that they shouldn’t, especially foods such as fats, oils, greases, rice, and other food solids. These clog up our pipes and reduce water flow, which eventually causes them to burst or snap from their joints.
A couple of years ago, we purchased kitchen sink strainers for everyone to use. These strainers are free and can be picked up from the Registration Desk on your way out, or from Concierge at your convenience. While they won’t stop fats and such from going down the drain, we do encourage them for collecting solids.
Beyond the use of strainers, the Board has also installed clean-outs to be in the appropriate suites so that these pipes may be power flushed, every 6 months or so, of all the built up gunk.
Firenza was the company that we originally hired to install the clean-outs and to power wash, but regrettably, they missed some installs. The build-up from inside one of the missed pipes ended up causing a pipe to burst and leak into our lobby (by the mail room) and causing the aforementioned damage to our Management Office. We tried to come to a fair agreement with Firenza so that we may recuperate our costs; however, Firenza has largely been ignoring Management’s contact and attempts to come to an agreement. It is only fair to the Owners that we attempt to collect the associated costs via a lawsuit.
Financial Matters – Treasurer’s Report
For the financial matters, I’ll first go over the Maintenance fees and then turn it over to Ryan for his Treasurer’s Report.
During the “Meet and Greet”, we had several people comment via the suggestion box that “maintenance fees are too high”. I’ll be addressing the maintenance fees, and how they compare to our sister towers, Tower 2 and Tower 3, as well as the average costs in Toronto, with the help of my handout that everyone received when they arrived today.
As you can see, our condo’s maintenance fees are at $0.63 per square foot, which is in the “below average” range of $0.52 - $0.67 for the City of Toronto.
Our building has a lot of services and amenities, and maintaining them comes at a cost. We have a party room, a large outdoor terrace, a guest suite, a superintendent’s suite, a pool and hot tub with an outdoor terrace, two large change rooms, a large gym with three areas, a Gymboree, and a pet room. Beyond all that, we have two large lobbies: an upper and lower lobby.
Furthermore, we also pay the most into the Three-Way Shared fund.
When we compare Emerald City One with the other two towers, we see that Emerald City One has the highest resale value per square foot, yet our maintenance fees are just as much as Tower Two and lower than Tower Three – despite these two towers sharing most of their amenities and paying significantly less into the Three Way Shared budget.
Let’s also keep in mind that there are several costs that are largely beyond our control, such as: utilities, inflation, and the substantial increase in minimum wage. With everything that the Board and Management can do, you can be assured that we will do; however, there is a lot that Residents can help with.
We’ll soon be publishing a Blog post with what Residents can do to help keep maintenance fees low – from signing up for e-communications to avoid mailing costs, to preventing grease and foods from going down the drains, to not illegally dumping trash and furniture, to ensuring that you shower before entering the pool and/or hot tub, and to protecting the amenities and property.
All of this to say that, while it is understandable want to pay as little as possible for maintenance fees, our building is doing incredibly well to keep fees as low as possible while also ensuring that everything runs well and that we work towards the “luxury condo” status that the Developer advertised this building to be and Residents expect.
TREASURER'S REPORT: RYAN MOXAM
This year our big purchases included the “Building Automation System”, otherwise known as the “BAS”. When the Board was considering the BAS, the price was quite steep, and, despite how useful it was and how much money it would save over time, it simply wasn’t in the budget. Luckily, the government soon offered a rebate incentive which made it much more affordable, and so we went for it!
Beyond automating the building and optimizing our equipment (reducing wear and tear), and making the Superintendents’ jobs more streamlined, this system also saves us on Hydro and Gas, and has a return on investment timeline of a year and a half. Since it was installed in July 2018, it will have paid for itself in savings by this time next year (November 2018)!
We’ve also purchased a Judo Filter, which helps filter out the sediments found in the City’s water supply lines. This will help prevent damage to our expensive and sensitive machinery, as the sediments won’t clog them up anymore. In fact, this filter is scheduled to be installed tomorrow, which is why we’ve scheduled a full water shut down.
Lastly, as Andreea mentioned, we have had quite a few plumbing problems, which coupled with the legal fees of trying to recuperate those costs, ended up being a significant expense for the Corporation. We do expect to successfully collect on those costs, so we look forward to reporting more positively on that matter at future AGMs.
As a note, more information about everything I’ve mentioned above is on the Blog.
One of the main reasons that we’ve installed better equipment such as the BAS and Judo Filter is to prevent damage to our existing equipment. Our Board believes that preventative maintenance is key, as the cost of maintaining is much less than the price of fixing. Proper maintenance also helps ensure less disruptions for Residents’ services.
The Blog that has been mentioned quite often now is on the EmeraldCityOne.com website, which Andreea created and maintains. We continue to use that instead of BuildingLink as the costs are less and we can better customize it to our needs.
We’d also ask Owners to please sign up for email communication rather than post mail, as it helps Management save time and the Corporation save money. Moreover, in cases such as the Canada Post strike that we have going on now, it ensures that everyone gets important information on time.
Of course, it seems like all these things are little, and perhaps insignificant, but if anything, our Board has learned how quickly all these small costs add right up.
We also have very positive news. With the help of Legal and even Rob, our Auditor, Andreea negotiated an income of $17,000 monthly with Scientel, the company who uses a spot on our roof for their antenna. They wanted more roof space to use, and in exchange for that, we’ll now be receiving $17,000 per month instead of $3,000. Their new rate began on November 1st, so we’ll be exploring how to best allocate the extra money at our upcoming Board Meetings.
Because the Corporation’s income will be more than $50,000 per year, we’ll have to register for an HST number, which is why you may have noticed that Management has started to charge HST.
Re-Election & "In Conclusion"
As I’m sure everyone has noticed, this year my term is up, and I have submitted my name for re-election. Armand Conant, Deborah’s Partner and another one of our Corporation’s lawyers, also the “who’s who” man of the condo industry, has a saying every time a director is voted in, and he shared it with me when I was first re-elected three years ago. Following being elected, as he shakes the Director’s hand, rather than saying “congratulations”, he likes to say “my condolences”! It is true that volunteering to be a Director can be a thankless job; however, I have to say that my experience has been, almost always, rewarding.
Through this process, not only do I feel like I’ve left a mark on this building by partaking in many projects – some visible and many others behind-the-scenes, but I’ve also gotten to know many neighbours, who I often share conversations with when we run into each other while coming and going, in the elevator or while waiting for the elevator, and at various building events.
This experience has also been made pleasant by the amazing staff and contractors that we’ve accumulated over time, and I’m so lucky to share in this journey with every one of you to guide me along the way.
Thank you all for attending this year’s AGM and for being active in our Emerald Community – it really does take a village to provide the home that we all deserve!
All the best,
Andreea Birloncea, President
Board of TSCC 2368
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