Organization of the Month | January 2017

by Kathleen Cunningham
Executive Director

BC Law Institute Turns 20

Lisa A. Peters, Q.C., Chair of the BCLI Board and The Honourable Suzanne Anton Q.C. at #BCLI20

The BC Law Institute (BCLI) is British Columbia’s only independent, non-partisan law reform body. It includes the Canadian Centre for Elder Law.

Over the past 20 years BCLI has produced over 60 reports, study papers and resources. Our reports include detailed analyses of the evolution of a particular law, consider the policy issues and recommend reforms to improve the law and/or make it more relevant in today’s society. Our study papers examine legal issues and often identify areas of the law that might be the subject of a future project.

What’s happening in 2017

In 2017 we have a number of ambitious and interesting projects on the go – we continue our projects to address issues in BC’s strata property law, reform the Employment Standards Act and reform the Builders Lien Act. We are also working on a study paper on the options available for financing litigation when individuals must go to court to protect their rights. Finally, we are in the final stages of a project of the Uniform Law Conference of Canada which will propose a Uniform Vital Statistics Act that could be adopted in all provinces and territories to modernize and help ensure better consistency across the country in how vital events are recorded.

Celebrating 20 Years: Thank You.

We could not do the work we do without the support of hundreds of committee volunteers (over 370) and dozens of funders.  In January 2017, the BC Law Institute turned 20. We kicked off a year of celebration with an event in Victoria to both celebrate our achievements, but to also thank the many funders, supporters and committee volunteers who make it possible for our small team to do the work it does.

Guests were the first to see our 20th Anniversary video “Tending to our Laws” which is now available on our website on this web page. Thank you to our core funders – the Law Foundation of BC and the BC Ministry of Justice, all of our project funders, and to the sponsors of our 20th anniversary events – Gold Sponsor: Lawson Lundell; Silver Sponsors: BC Ministry of Justice, Spraggs & Co, Solvere; and Bronze Sponsor: Ramsay Lampman and Rhodes. Your support makes our work possible.

Q&A with the ED

CQ_iconKathleen Cunningham is the Executive Director of the BC Law Institute. BCLI is one of our top contributors to the Reform & Research section of Clicklaw, which serves as a public window to legal reform and innovations in BC. Here is a short Q&A we did to help you better understand what BCLI does:

I imagine some of our readership might be unfamiliar with BCLI. Could you tell me more about what you do? The laws that govern our lives are established in legislation and through the courts over time. The BCLI identifies laws that are outdated or need to be improved in order to better serve British Columbians.

The resources we produce assist lawyers and other professionals. They range from questions and answers on pension division on the breakdown of a relationship to understanding and addressing undue influence on a client who is making a will or a power of attorney. Many resources are designed to help health care professionals, seniors serving groups, and seniors themselves to understand elder abuse and how to prevent it, and respond when it occurs.

How is BCLI a unique organization? We’re BC’s only independent, non-partisan law reform body. We look to find the laws that are not working for people, and when we identify an area of the law that needs reform, we make sure government and other stakeholders are also interested in seeing work to identify how to improve this area of the law.

How do you identify these areas of need, the laws that “aren’t working”? We invite people to send ideas to us through email, and lawyers that know about us will bring ideas to us; we’ve had a number of projects brought to us this way – our Strata Property law reform project was brought to us by the Notaries of BC, we have an Employment Standards Act project that was brought to us by a lawyer who works in that area, so it can vary. We also monitor what’s being said: what are the courts talking about? What are the commentators discussing when court decisions come out?

Continue reading »

Jan. 2017 Events – (Online, Burnaby, Coquitlam, Ladysmith, New Westminster, Vancouver, Victoria)

Bookmark this post! It will be updated as more events are announced. You can also get frequent updates via our Twitter. Have a suggestion? Email us.

You will learn about how to meet the residency obligation and renewing PR cards, steps to becoming a citizen, key points on sponsorship of spouses and parents, changes to the Caregiver program, the 4 year cap on TFWs, and about the Express Entry program.

Register Online or by Phone at 604-436-5400.

How can you plan for incapacity, end-of-life, and other support needs? Learn about Representation Agreements – the only legal document in BC to plan for health care and personal care matters. Find out about other documents being used and promoted in the health system – are they legal? What do they mean for patients and their families?

Register Online.

Wednesday, January 11 (10:30-11:30am) 1-380 Cook Street, Victoria: Elder Abuse: What Is It? How Do We Deal With It? Workshop – Contact 250-384-6542 to register.

Thursday, January 12 (1:00-3:00pm) 620-8th Street, New Westminster: Frauds and Scams Workshop – Contact 604-519-1066 to register.

Friday, January 13 (12:30-2:00pm) 1022 Nelson Street, Vancouver: Government Benefits for Older Adults Workshop – Contact 604-683-4574 to register.

Tuesday, January 17 (1:30-3:30pm) 630-2nd Ave, Ladysmith: Government Benefits for Older Adults Workshop – Contact 250-245-3079 to register.

Wednesday, January 25 (9:30-11:00am) 1200 Glen Pine Court, CoquitlamGovernment Benefits for Older Adults Workshop – Contact 604-927-6940 to register.

Enduring Powers of Attorney or a Representation Agreement with authority for routine finances are legal documents in BC adults may use to plan for incapacity, end-of-life, and other support needs. If there are no arrangements in place, adults can lose their rights through adult guardianship, called Committeeship in BC. Find out how adult guardianship is the LAST RESORT in BC. Also learn about the limits of a Power of Attorney and Bank Power of Attorney.

Register Online.

Evan Kelly, Senior Communications Advisor, Better Business Bureau will lead this session on: how to spot the scammers, how to protect your identity, and what to do if you are scammed.

Register Online.

Join for a fun and participatory seminar on: The dynamics of family conflict; How to approach difficult conversations; Tools for dealing with tension and conflict while building agreements; Where to find support from conflict resolution professionals and other specialists.

Register Online.

All organizations that are incorporated under the current Society Act must plan to complete their “transition application,” with revised constitution and bylaws, by the time of their 2017 AGM. This workshop will provide the information on the bylaw and policy changes necessary for your organization to effectively make the transition when the new Act is proclaimed.

Register Online.

Stay informed:


Dec. 2016 – Events (Vancouver, Victoria, Burnaby)

Bookmark this post! It will be updated as more events are announced. You can also get frequent updates via our Twitter. Have a suggestion? Email us.

  • Thursday, December 1 (10:00-11:30am): Nidus is hosting an event at Holy Trinity Anglican Church, 1440 W. 12th Ave (at Hemlock), 2nd floor, Vancouver, to wrap up Personal Planning Month. The Essentials of a Basic Plan for Your Future: What are the key legal documents in BC to plan for incapacity, end-of- life and after death? Who gets copies and where do you register your plans so they are available when needed?
    • This presentation will provide an overview of Representation Agreements, Enduring Powers of Attorney, and Wills. Find out where to get the legal forms and how to register them after they are completed. There will be time for Q & A. Registration is not required.


  • Saturday, December 3 (4:00-6:00pm): BCCLA is promoting the Public Town Hall for Consultation on National Security at the SFU Vancouver Morris J. Wosk Conference Centre, 580 West Hastings Street, Vancouver. Participants are logo_bcclaencouraged to register in advance via
    • BCCLA writes: We have an unprecedented opportunity for Canadians to weigh in on the recent radical changes to our national security landscape (eg. “C-51”) and our long-standing deficits in national security transparency and accountability. Now is the time to make our voices heard.


  • Monday, December 5 (12:00-1:30pm): Executive Directors Series: Auditing – Lunch and Learn, at the Volunteer Victoria Learning Centre, 306-620 View Street, Victoria. Have you ever wondered about the differences between an audit and financial reporting to funders?
    • The new Societies Act requires all “reporting societies” to appoint an auditor – but what is the role of an auditor; in what ways can an auditor help; and what do you need to know about choosing an auditor. Join Richard Games as he explores the benefits to stakeholders of an audit and answers your questions regarding financial statement audits in this free lunch and learn. Get Tickets here.


  • Monday, December 12 (7:00-8:30pm): People’s Law School and Burnaby Public Library are partnering to put on a session about Common-Law Relationships: Learn about your rights and responsibilities before moving in together. After living with someone you can be considered a spouse or common-law partner after a certain amount of time.
    • Join family law lawyer Kevin Quong as he explains laws regarding common-law relationships and how to protect yourself and other family members. This free information session is presented in partnership with People’s Law School. Registration is required and space is limited. Please register online or phone the Bob Prittie Metrotown Branch at 604-436-5400.

Stay informed:


Organization of the Month | November 2016

Meet Lillian

“I am constantly amazed at people’s resilience”

Lillian Wong is an advocate with Disability Alliance BC (DABC) and has been with the organization for 15 years. I had the chance to have a short Q&A with her about her experiences.

How did you come to work for DABC? What made you stay? I was volunteering here when I was completing my Masters of Social Work at UBC – I was the phone receptionist with the Advocacy program. What made me stay on was the organization’s passion for working with the marginalized disability community. DABC is a great organization – it’s teamwork. There’s no ego. There’s no patronizing. Everyone is equal – everyday, everyone looks out for each other’s back and helps each other. It’s cohesive.

Does your organization serve your immediate community (Vancouver) or all of BC? We serve all of BC—my colleagues do workshops everywhere.

Can you briefly explain your work? I help people with disabilities, with income assistance, and provincial disability benefits. Disability applications – or housing applications, RSDPs. Most of them come to our office, and at times I will meet them elsewhere. My specific clientele is homeless and they are financially disadvantaged. The most marginalized in society. We’re non-profit, so it catches people who are falling through the cracks. We take them through the whole process: from the beginning and until they get the results. If we get denials, I’ll refer them to my colleagues who do appeals.

What has surprised you the most about working with DABC? I am constantly amazed at people’s resilience with what they have to cope with, financially and medically.

What do you worry about, and why? I worry that clients will fall through the cracks – the shelter, food, safety, what will happen when they get older with a disability. Aging with a disability, and what will happen to them.

What do you think keeps your clients going? Hope – that there’s something better. I am most excited about the RDSP – and the hope [it gives] to press on. With PWD benefits they are allowed to earn some money and not get penalized. Then they can save up for a future with the RDSP.

What’s new with Disability Alliance BC (DABC)?e150_partner_logos

DABC is launching a new BC-wide program to help people access the Registered Disability Savings Plan (RDSP).

The RDSP is a long-term savings plan designed to help Canadians with disabilities at all income levels save for their futures.

DABC plans to help eligible people to apply for the Disability Tax Credit (DTC)—which you need for the RDSP—and connect them to Plan Institute’s RDSP Helpline and Guide or BCANDS, for further help to open an RDSP.

DABC will travel to communities across BC to increase awareness about the program, through workshops and one-on-one clinics.

To learn more and to request a workshop, call Linda at DABC: 604-872-1278; 1-800-663-1278 or email

About DABC

Since 1977, Disability Alliance BC has been a provincial, cross-disability voice in British Columbia.

DABC (formerly known as the BC Coalition of People with Disabilities) was formed in 1977 and has been a provincial, cross-disability voice in British Columbia since then. To fulfill their mission, they:

  • Provide one-to-one assistance for people with all disabilities;
  • Produce and provide publications free of charge;
  • Design and implement programs and special projects; and
  • Work closely with community partners to promote positive change for people with disabilities.

Their programs include:

Advocacy Access ProgramHelp clients to access provincial and federal disability benefits, health supplements, and other programs such as subsidized housing.  Many clients are homeless or insecurely housed.

Tax AID DABCHelp people receiving provincially funded Persons with Disability (PWD) or Person with Persistent Multiple Barriers (PPMB) to file their income taxes.  This service is open all year, and their specialty is helping people file multiple years of taxes.

BC Personal Supports Network: A network of organizations that helps people with disabilities obtain assistive devices.

CARMA: Peer support that promotes a enhanced quality of life and self-determination for George Pearson Centre residents.

PublicationsProduce a range of materials including self-help publications, an e-newsletter, advocates manuals, health guides and their flagship magazine, Transition.

Outreach: Facilitate free on-site legal clinics on disability benefits through community partnerships and also provide information and capacity building workshops.

DABC is led by Executive Director Jane Dyson, who has been with the organization since 1998,  first as an advocate and for the past 8 years as its Executive Director.  In 2015, Jane was awarded the Order of British Columbia for her work in the community.

Stay informed with DABC:

01_Clicklaw_30px 01_Twitter_30px 01_Linkedin_30px 01_Website_30pxFB-f-Logo__blue_29

Tree vector designed by Freepik

Nov. 2016 – Events (Province-wide, and online)

Bookmark this post! It will be updated as more events are announced for November. You can also get frequent updates via our Twitter account.

  • website-ppm-banner-2016-1024x315November is Personal Planning Month. Nidus is putting on a series of events throughout BC. Curious about the difference between Personal Planning and Estate Planning? See this common question. Here is a breakdown of the events:
    1. In-person presentations in Vancouver and Burnaby.
    2. Webinars on personal planning viewable anywhere.
      • Courthouse Libraries BC is helping to host two of these webinars directed at intermediaries (community workers, librarians) on Medical Assistance in Dying (Oct. 25 – tomorrow!) and Personal Planning tools (Nov. 10) – register here.
    3. Public Libraries hosting group viewings of select webinars:
      • Capilano, Lynn Valley, Parkgate (North Vancouver)
      • Grand Forks & District
      • Kitimat
      • Trail & District
      • Williams Lake
      • Hazelton
      • Lillooet


  • Thursday, November 3 (6:30-9:30pm): BC FIPA is turning 25 and holding a celebratory soiree at the Bill Reid Gallery of Northwest Coast Art in Vancouver.

Their “goal for the future is to better engage and educate the public about the importance of freedom of information and protection of privacy. By attending our Celebratory Soiree, you’ll help pave the way.” Show your support, and enjoy an evening of food, drinks and live entertainment! Register for tickets here.

  • Friday, November 4 (5:00-7:30pm): Attend a Panel Discussion on The Fate of Women, Marginalized Refugees and Asylum Seekers at the Liu Institute for Global Issues at UBCubc_liunov2016 (Vancouver campus). The UBC Opera Ensemble, the Liu Institute for Global Issues, UBC Community Engagement, the Faculty of Arts, the Peter A. Allard School of Law, Green College, St. John’s College, Immigrant Services Society of BC (ISSofBC), and other partners have come together to host the program. Follow the conversation on Twitter using #RefugeeUBC. Register here.
    • Moderator: Efrat Arbel, Assistant Professor, Peter A. Allard School of Law
    • Panelists:
      Malcom Atia, aspiring actor, arrived in Canada as a refugee from Uganda
      Fadi Yachoua, Syrian refugee lawyer
      Kerstin Walter, Director, Settlement Orientation Services
      Chris Morrissey, Rainbow Refugee Committee


  • Monday, November 14 (12:30-2pm): If you are involved with a pre-existing society, you have likely heard about the Societies Act transition that will affect 27,000 lfnp_clbcsuch societies in B.C. Register for this free webinar hosted by Law For Non-Profits and Courthouse Libraries BC.

Martha Rans will provide useful information on the bylaw and policy changes necessary for your organization to effectively make the transition.

  • November 16-23 (Various Dates): BCCLA is hosting and co-hosting a number of workshops and conferences in November on everything from Charter litigation to Media Democracylogo_bccla
    (free), and a Youth and Civil Liberties Conference for students! See more info on how to register here.


  • November 19-26 is Conflict Resolution Week! Invite a Mediate BC mediator to your workplace or organizational office during the week of Nov. 19th-26th to host a free Learn@Lunch!conflictresolutionweek2016 You provide the lunch, they provide the presenter! Email for more information. Other in-person events include:
    • Monday, November 21 (12:00-1:00pm): Learn @ Lunch series with People’s Law School in Vancouver. Join mediator and collaborative game developer Sharon Sutherland in an exploration of the ways in which playing (and creating) tabletop games can improve individual and group skills in collaborative problem solving!
    • There are more free and paid events on Mediation, including conflict resolution for Small Business. See all events here.


  • Tuesday, November 22 (7:00-8:30pm): Emily’s Choice: A Child Protection Story screening at VPL in Vancouver. Come to Vancouver Public Library emilyschoice(Central Branch) for a screening of Emily’s Choice: A Child Protection Story. Afterwards, there will be a panel discussion about the child protection process and the challenges of preserving the welfare and safety of children in our communities.
    • Developed by Legal Services Society and the Healthy Aboriginal Network, Emily’s Choice is a graphic novel and video that use story and imagery to tell the story of Emily and her son, Greg. Emily is struggling with addiction and an unhealthy relationship. She loves her son, Greg, but can’t always take care of him. When Greg goes into foster care, Emily gets legal help and the support of her family to get Greg back.


  • Monday, November 28 (6:00-8:00pm): National Self-Represented-Litigants Support Network meets in Vancouver. The group offers free support for individuals going through the difficult experience of representing themselves in family or civil court. Held at the Westcoast Child Care Resource Centre at 2772 East Broadway, Vancouver. Free Parking available. RSVP to
  • Stay informed:


#WWV16: Mothers without Legal Status

By YWCA Metro Vancouver

This week, YWCAs across Canada commemorate YWCA Week without Violence, an annual week of violence prevention. Follow the campaign on Facebook and Twitter to stay informed and share our posts with your networks.


At the YWCA, decades of experience have shown us that when we meet the needs of women on the margins, all women benefit.  It’s why we continue with our advocacy efforts for Mothers without Legal Status. If we can help Mothers without Legal Status feel safe, supported and free from violence, then we are promoting a culture that believes all women should be free from violence.

Mothers without Legal Status are women who do not have permanent status under the Immigration & Refugee Protection Act to stay in Canada, but family court orders prevent their children from leaving the jurisdiction.  Women in this situation face deportation while their children are left with partners who abused them. This hardship is unacceptable, and we work tirelessly to ensure every Mother without Legal Status who comes to us for help is approved to stay in Canada as a Permanent Resident.

While our advocacy efforts alleviate some day-to-day suffering for Mothers without Legal Status, the permanent solution is to change laws so women are no longer ripped away from their children. Our 100% success rate is validating, but it is still no guarantee for these women, who can spend up to three years in limbo. They fear every knock on the door could be Canada Border Services Agency, coming to take them away.

This fear and vulnerability sends many Mothers without Legal Status back to their abusers. Our system renders women dependent on their abusers to secure status in Canada, as it is their abusers who are entering an agreement with the government to have their wives stay in Canada. The abuser controls the sponsorship. He can threaten to withdraw it if she is not compliant, stall document processing or refuse to follow up on requests for more information or documentation.

If we want to end violence against women, we need to prevent a woman’s status in Canada from being tied to her abuser. We need to allow a woman leaving her abusive partner to file her own application, in secret, using the address of a friend, transition house or settlement agency. The applicant should be able to use whatever evidence she has of her abuse, including police or hospital reports, her own statement, information from victim services or other agencies she has sought support from or friends and family who are aware of the abuse. Most importantly, this application must allow her to begin the process of securing financial independence through income assistance and/or employment (and she should not be penalized for her personal path towards economic independence).

This is not a radical idea. This type of program has existed for more than 16 years in the United States and has not created havoc, abuse of the process or increased immigration demands. Creating a similar program here will demonstrate that Canada is serious about ending violence against every person, every day.

Learn more about YWCA programs supporting women leaving abusive relationships.

Contact Us

  • To support YWCA Mothers’ without Legal Status: 604 895 5763 or
  • To learn more about our advocacy work: Chantelle Krish, Associate Director of Advocacy and Communications
  • If you are, or know someone who is a mother without legal status in need of individual support, guidance or advocacy: Andrea Vollans, YWCA Legal Educator

YWCA Metro Vancouver

ywcavan-logoThe YWCA serves women and families throughout the metropolitan region spanning Burnaby, Surrey, the Tri-cities, Maple Ridge, Langley/Aldergrove, Abbotsford, New Westminster, Richmond and North Vancouver.

Our mission is to touch lives and build better futures for women and their families through advocacy and integrated services that foster economic independence, wellness and equal opportunities.

Our resources on Clicklaw include:mothers-without-status-booklet

Stay informed with YWCA Metro Vancouver:


World Cerebral Palsy Day

Adapted from Cerebral Palsy Association of British Columbia

There are over 10,000 people living with cerebral palsy in British Columbia.

Cerebral Palsy Association of BC was started in 1954 by a group of parents who wanted to assist their children living with CP to reach their maximum potential within society. We provide support, education, and information throughout BC. Our resources on Clicklaw include:

wcpd16_logo_world_hi-res-300x167World CP Day is a movement of people with cerebral palsy and their families, and the organizations that support them, in more than 50 countries. The goal of World CP Day is to ensure that children and adults with cerebral palsy (CP) have the same rights, access and opportunities as anyone else in our society. It is only together, that we can make that happen.

In recognition of World CP Day 2016, the Government of British Columbia and cities and towns across the province have agreed to proclaim “World CP Day” and the province’s major landmarks will be lighting up green, the official colour of CP.

This map shows the governments that are proclaiming World CP Day and the landmarks that will be lit up on October 5th.

How to use the map: You can zoom in or out. Click any icon to show more about that proclamation or landmark. Click the button in the top left to bring up a list of all of the locations recognizing World CP Day.

Cerebral Palsy Association of BC

Our Mission is:

  • To raise awareness of Cerebral Palsy in the community;
  • To assist those living with Cerebral Palsy to reach their maximum potential; and
  • To work to see those living with Cerebral Palsy recognize their place as equals in a diverse society.


FB-f-Logo__blue_29 01_Clicklaw_30px 01_Twitter_30px 01_Website_30px

Get legal info at your local library

By Shannon McLeod
LawMatters Program Coordinator

October is only a few days away, and it is Canadian Library Month, an excellent opportunity to recognize the role public libraries play in providing legal information to their communities.lmlogo

Since 2007, Courthouse Libraries BC has been proud to partner with BC’s public libraries through the LawMatters program. Supported by the Law Foundation of British Columbia, LawMatters is Courthouse Libraries BC’s outreach program for public librarians.

Through this partnership we are working to enhance public access to legal information in all communities across British Columba.

The LawMatters program focuses on four main areas to help support public libraries:


Financial assistance is given to all public libraries that choose to participate through our grants program. Grants are distributed annually to help purchase legal information and reference materials.

Collection Support

We provide libraries with a core list of titles to use as a guide for selecting and ordering materials. The list is evaluated annually for currency and accuracy. We are also available to offer suggestions and work with librarians to support local collection needs.

Working with Clicklaw Wikibooks, LawMatters has previously distributed print copies of Clicklaw Wikibook titles Legal Help for British Columbians, JP Boyd on Family Law, and Dial-A-Law free of charge to libraries throughout BC to support legal collections.

Skills Development

We offer training sessions to public librarians to improve their confidence helping the public with legal information questions. This includes how to use legal resources, the basics of legal research, and general legal reference skills.


Our goal is to increase access to legal information for all communities in BC and empower librarians and to provide legal information, reference, and referral.

We aim to build community capacity through partnerships which we continue to explore with libraries and other organizations. We encourage and consult with public libraries to host community forums to connect with local organizations that work with the public to help them find legal information.

For more information on the growing role of public libraries and public librarians as partners in access to justice, see “LawMatters at Your Local Public Library; A History of BC’s Program for Public Legal Information and Education in Public Libraries.”

Stay informed:

01_Clicklaw_30px 01_Twitter_30px 01_Linkedin_30px 01_Website_30pxFB-f-Logo__blue_29

Talks on Access to Justice

What is the biggest problem facing the legal profession? The Chief Justice of Canada says it is access to justice. Research suggests that almost half of Canadian adults will experience a significant legal problem over a three year period, but very few will find legal services to deal with that problem. So why doesn’t access to justice (“A2J”) have a higher public profile?

Find out how and why this problem touches the lives of a majority of Canadians not just now, but throughout their lives.

Not in Vancouver? The following talk will be livestreamed at Why Don’t we Have Appropriate Access to Justice?, and livetweeted using #justicetalks.  This and future talks will also be available as podcasts.


Why Don’t We Have Appropriate Access to Justice?

When: Wednesday, September 28, 2016 @ 5-6:30pma2j_talk_01

Where: Green College, Coach House

What: What stands in the way of adequate access to justice? The Honourable Thomas Cromwell, recently retired from the Supreme Court of Canada and chair of the Action Committee on Access to Justice in Civil and Family Matters will share his thoughts on why we still do not have appropriate access to justice in civil and family matters and provide a brief update on some promising initiatives. Panel: Jennifer Muller, former self-represented litigant; Dan Baxter, Director of Policy Development, Government & Stakeholder Relations for the BC Chamber of Commerce

Cost: All talks are open to the public without charge.


Access to Justice and Sexual Violence

When: Wednesday, October 19, 2016 @ 5-6:30pma2j_talk_002

Where: Green College, Coach House

Who: Janine Benedet, Centre for Feminist Legal Studies, Peter A. Allard School of Law, UBC
Tracy Pickett, Medicine, UBC

Cost: All talks are open to the public without charge.


Access to Justice and Indigenous Laws

When: Wednesday, November 23, 2016 @ 5-6:30pm

Where: Green College, Coach House

Who: Val Napoleon, Law Foundation Professor of Aboriginal Justice and Governance, Law, University of Victoria
Hadley Friedland, Law, University of Alberta

Cost: All talks are open to the public without charge.


For more information on all events: or

Stay informed:

01_Clicklaw_30px 01_Twitter_30px 01_Linkedin_30px 01_Website_30pxFB-f-Logo__blue_29

BCLI seeks your views on complex stratas

BCLI carries out scholarly research, writing and analysis for law reform, collaborating with government and other entities, and providing materials and support for outreach and public information.

by Kevin Zakreski
Staff Lawyer & Corporate Secretary

The British Columbia Law Institute wants to hear from you about its proposals to reform the Strata Property Act.

With the help of a volunteer project committee, BCLI is carrying out a multi-year project on strata-property law. The committee has just released its Consultation Paper on Complex Stratas (PDF).

Strata-property law started out as a way to encourage the development of high-density residential housing. Over time, stratas became increasingly complex. They have become more architecturally varied, incorporating different building styles. For example, a single strata development may have an apartment tower, surrounded by townhouses and other low-rise buildings. More and more, stratas are also combining different uses. It’s become common to see mixed-use stratas with retail and commercial uses on the lower floors and residential uses above.

These complex stratas have many benefits. They create variety in the marketplace. They support amenities that owners enjoy. And they advance urban-planning goals.

But complex stratas also create some problems. The bulk of these problems center on money.

It’s expensive to develop a large, sophisticated strata property. If it had to be done all in one go, only the biggest real-estate developers would be able to do it. And once a complex strata is up and running, the owners of strata lots being used for different purposes often have different ideas about how to spend the strata’s money and how to operate the strata. For example, commercial owners might need things like extra trash pickups and security patrols that don’t benefit residential owners. The residential owners may wonder why they should have to contribute to paying for these services.

The Strata Property Act uses three devices to manage these problems. These three devices are sections, types, and phases. They are at the heart of the consultation paper.

Sections and types allow a strata corporation to manage cost sharing between groups of owners, while phases permit the development of a strata property in segments over an extended time. Sections, types, and phases all entered the law in the 1970s. They haven’t been comprehensively reviewed since that time.

The committee considered some bold ideas to reform the law. It debated abolishing sections and greatly expanding the role of types. It looked at fundamentally changing the government oversight that attaches to phases.

In the end, the committee decided to not to propose bold changes. It proposes keeping the current framework, but with some significant fine tuning.

The consultation paper has 68 tentative recommendations for reform, including:

  • 29 tentative recommendations on sections, which propose clarifying the procedures for creating and cancelling sections, spelling out section powers and duties, and strengthening section governance, budgets, and finances;
  • 14 tentative recommendations on types, which propose clarifying the procedures for creating and cancelling types and fine-tuning the operation of types; and
  • 25 tentative recommendations on phases, which propose enhancing the oversight of the phasing process, simplifying governance in a phased strata corporation, and providing additional protections for the financial interests of owners in a phased strata property.

The committee would like to hear your thoughts on all 68 of its proposals. But if you would rather just focus on the big picture, then you may be interested in the summary consultation. It has just three highlighted proposals for comment.

You can find the full consultation paper, the summary consultation, and instructions on how to participate in the consultation on Strata Property Law Project—Phase Two webpage.

Stay informed with BCLI:

01_Clicklaw_30px 01_Twitter_30px 01_Linkedin_30px 01_Website_30pxFB-f-Logo__blue_29