The two major political parties may be missing out on one sector that has gotten close attention from the B.C. Conservative Party: condo owners.
The B.C. Conservatives have been mailing out membership forms printed as part of a brochure telling owners of residential strata properties what the party will do for them if it forms government. The brochure is also featured prominently on the home page of the party’s website, which indicates an interest not shown by either the ruling B.C. Liberal Party or the NDP.
“I’m told they get a lot of positive response from people,” strata-rights advocate Deryk Norton told the Georgia Straight in a phone interview.
The Victoria-based Norton is familiar with how the B.C. Conservatives were able to focus such attention on strata owners.
“They were developing policy a while ago, and they asked for input from a number of people, including me, which is more than I can say for the other political parties, unfortunately,” he said.
Norton is the person behind Strataadvocate.ca, a website that provides information to push for changes in what many consider as outdated and ineffectual provincial strata legislation.
According to Norton’s site, there are more than 520,000 strata units across the province. In the Greater Vancouver and Victoria regions, over 50 percent of taxable properties are strata units. It also is estimated that at least 700,000 British Columbians are owners of condo properties.
The B.C. Conservative brochure also notes the growing proportion of strata properties. It states that strata ownership has increased to 25 percent of properties throughout the province.
The party makes a number of pledges that respond to long-standing concerns from condo owners. These include protection “from fraudulent misrepresentation by developers”, and “full disclosure”¦of all strata affairs”.
Norton noted that the party went further than just a brochure. The B.C. Conservatives have come out with a proposed “Contract With British Columbians”, a document that lists commitments on 11 areas of concern.
The eighth item refers to “private-property rights”. Here, the party vows to strengthen legislation to protect property rights, and “amend and then strengthen the outdated strata property act to protect the rights of strata owners”.
Norton also did something more than just provide input to the B.C. Conservatives. He joined the party. “I was encouraged because they were the only ones who seem to be listening on the matter of strata issues,” Norton said.