Hearing set for complaint over Mandarin-only strata meetings in Richmond

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      A complaint over the conduct of strata meetings in Mandarin at a Richmond townhouse complex will be heard this fall.

      The B.C. Human Rights Tribunal will begin hearing the complaint filed by Andreas Kargut on behalf of himself and other former and current owners at Wellington Court in October.

      Kargut had claimed that he and others were excluded from strata meetings and business because they do not speak Mandarin.

      Kargut alleged that this constitutes discrimination on the basis of race, ancestry, and place of origin.

      Tribunal member Devyn Cousineau has directed Kargut to identify by name the members of the group that were allegedly discriminated against by June 30.

      Cousineau made the order in her reasons for decision defining the scope of a group or class in a human rights complaint.

      “Identifying the members of his group will better elucidate the issues before this Tribunal and ensure that the Strata has sufficient notice of the case it must meet—the most basic tenet of procedural fairness,” Cousineau wrote in the decision dated June 6, 2018.

      The tribunal member noted that Kargut represents himself and nine other owners. On February 8 this year, Kargut added the name of Harry Gray.

      Kargut and his family have moved out of the Wellington Court in July 2017.

      Gray and his wife left earlier in November 2016.

      Summarizing the allegations that have yet to be tested in a hearing, Cousineau wrote that the complaint claimed that the strata’s annual general meeting on July 27, 2015, was conducted in Mandarin with “inadequate English translation”.

      “After that date, Strata Council meetings were conducted in Mandarin, and emails were exchanged in Mandarin,” the summary continued. “This meant that one member of Council who did not speak Mandarin, Alex Tan, could not participate in the business of Council.”

      Moreover, Kargut and Gray attended a strata council meeting “but could not understand it because it was conducted in Mandarin”.

      Cousineau noted that at a following annual general assembly in August 2016, “a bylaw was passed that requires all Strata Council meetings be conducted in both English and Mandarin”.

      “Presumably this resolved issues arising from the language used by Council in respect of Strata governance,” Cousineau continued.

      However, Kargut amended the complaint in February this year, adding an allegation that non-Mandarin speaking owners “received and continue to receive negative treatment from many of their Mandarin speaking neighbours, resulting in increased stress, sleepless nights and anxiety for many”.

      In her decision, Cousineau also directed Kargut to specify details of the new allegation.