It’s a standing joke that Ottawa only has two seasons –Winter and Construction and it’s especially true this year with major projects like the LRT, Elgin Street rebuild and Queensway modifications underway. The St. George is no different with a number of building elements or systems requiring repair or replacement after 32 years. Some residents have asked about the status of the more visible projects, which were delayed starting for a number of reasons, including weather. Remember the freezing rain and snow in April? Several projects were supposed to be done last year, which is one of the reasons we changed property management companies. Your Board and our new Property Manager, Nancy Bouillon, are just as anxious as you are to see them finished and by the time you read this, a number will be completed.
On the 3rd floor patio:
- The planters will be re-sealed to stop water leaking down into the offices on the second floor;
- New ‘duck-resistant’ shrubs will then be planted instead of the ornamental grass, which looked good but provided too much cover for nesting ducks;
- New flowering shrubs and trees will be planted in the large planter and
- The deteriorating concrete in front of the pool sliding glass doors is being removed, the area re- sealed and a new door and sill will be installed, again to prevent water leaking into the offices below.
The waterfall and ground level pool will be turned on after several repairs are completed:
- The broken and missing blue tile on the pillars and vertical surfaces of the first level have already been replaced;
- The metal covers for the waste bins and several metal brackets and fittings around the ground level patio will be sand-blasted and re-painted;
- the metal structure was painted the wrong colour last year and will be repainted the proper shade of blue;
- The railing on the first level behind the waterfall will be sanded and repainted the same blue;
- The broken glass panel on the same level will be replaced; and
- The upper tank of the waterfall and the lower pool will be patched where necessary and repainted.
2nd floor Commercial:
- Water leaks into offices will be stopped and repairs made to pre vent future problems; and
- The corroded main Commercial entrance door and surrounding metal structure will be replaced.
In spite of a number of transition challenges, including problems with financial information provided by Axia, new RBC financial security checks and having to move their office on short notice to a new location, Val Roca has worked closely with your Board to:
- Finalize a new budget for FY 2018/19;
- Complete a new Reserve Fund Study, with Keller Engineering; and
- Move operating surpluses from FY 2017/18 to the Reserve Fund to keep owner condo fee increases low and allow several projects to be moved forward for earlier completion.
All that to say it has been a busy transition for Val Roca and the Board appreciates what has been accomplished in just a few months. Wishing you all a great summer. See you at the AGM on Wednesday, 26 September.
On your behalf, I extend a warm welcome to Nancy Bouillon and her Val Roca Property Management team.
As you would expect, Val Roca has a busy agenda the first few months with the transfer of numerous files, changing banking authorizations, contracting the completion of ongoing projects, working with the Board and our engineering company to finalize our Reserve Fund Study, conferring with our auditor to verify our financial situation on transfer from Axia, and with the Board to prepare a new budget for FY 2018-2019.
All that, while adjusting to the increased reporting demands of the new Condo Act.
The good news is the Val Roca offices are right in our building and as a result, response times have improved already.
We look forward to a positive and productive working relationship
A recent fire alarm, which turned out to be false, prompted me to remind you to refresh your understanding of your responsibilities and actions when an alarm sounds.
Fire Warning and Response is something we need to take seriously. Prompt and orderly response to an emergency alarm in any building is essential, and for a large 25-story building like the St. George, with some 225+ people, even more so.
As a result, the St. George has comprehensive Emergency Preparedness and Procedures checklists for all major emergencies, which are covered in the Security Staff Job Description and in the Residents’ Manual. If you are new to the St. George or haven’t recently read Section 5 - Emergency Preparedness and Procedures, I strongly suggested you do so. A hard copy of the Residents’ Manual is in the lobby and also available here.
Do you know what to do when the building alarm sounds? Wait for the PA by Security to specify what action is required and what floors, if any, need to evacuate.
Don’t call Security on the phone because he will be too busy checking the alarm panel, opening doors for Firefighters, getting the elevator ready for them and checking the list of residents who may need assistance.
Regular safety checks and improvements are a priority. Each month our contracted Fire Safety company, Total Fire Protection Inc., tests the fire alarm system plus checks extinguishers and the elevator response. They also do an Annual Fire Safety Inspection of the whole building and replace any items that are time- expired or do not function according to specs. Recently they installed a new modern Fire Warning Panel which meets new performance criteria and is more maintainable. They cleaned and flushed the Garage Sprinkler System valves and replaced the older Smoke Detectors in each unit with new hard-wired models with battery backup and hush feature.
On behalf of your Board of Directors, best wishes to you and yours for a happy and SAFE holiday.
Despite record rainfall, cooler temperatures, high winds and numerous construction disruptions, this year brought a number of ST. GEORGE GOOD NEWS STORIES. Three that stand out were not initiated by the St. George and occurred beyond our property but I think you’ll agree they made for an eventful year.
First was the announcement of the Salvation Army’s Plan For a New Multi-Program Facility and Community Hub in Vanier. The purpose-built complex is designed for clients and community to comfortably interact, with a working men life skills residence, a Stabilization & Anchorage special residence, a day program and emergency accommodations. Inviting and secure pedestrian friendly spaces plus bright, private and secure client-centered outdoor spaces and an internal courtyard, with a landscape buffer around the perimeter are the key features. Co-located with the Community & Family Services, Thrift Store and Coffee Shop, it will encourage community interaction and development of a traditional street scape. As Co-Chair of the ByWard Safety & Security Committee, I will be signing a letter of support for the Salvation Army to use when presenting to the City Planning Committee.
Second was the establishment by Shield Security Services of a Co-operative Community Security Patrol plus closing the Waller Mall. Stakeholder support for the patrol has already doubled to ten businesses and organizations, including the St. George. I’m sure you’ve noticed the significant impact the patrol has already had on street activity and safety.
The other Good News story was the unique opportunity to witness many Canada 150 and Ottawa 2017 Events and Celebrations; some virtually on our doorstep. St.George has always facilitated front row seats for Canada Day and alike but how exciting to wake up to find a Large Dragon sleeping in the Giant Tiger parking lot. Many of you followed Kumo and Long Ma, along with thousands of others throughout the market as they stalked each other. With the spectacular Mosaic Canada 150 Floral Display, Kontinuum, the RCAF fly past, the Snowbirds, the Northern Lights show, National Gallery and ByWard Market art displays, the festivals and more, it was certainly a memorable summer.
This year, we improved our 32-camera CCTV system with 6 new HD cameras monitored and recorded 24/7, added brighter LED lighting around the loading bays, entrances and garages and partnered in a new Co-operative Area Security Patrol checking George Street and adjacent areas. We’ve also stated our firm position on the Waller Mall recommending that it remain closed for the foreseeable future.
That’s all good but the real key to effective condominium security is vigilance and compliance with good practices, not just by Security staff but all residents. That means:
- Ensuring you lock exterior doors and your unit door;
- IF YOU SEE SOMETHING - SAY SOMETHING - Report anything that doesn’t seem right - on or off the property to the Security Guards or the Ottawa Police;
- Advising Security of any and all expected visitors, contractors or the pizza delivery guy, so they can be let in, because all access is restricted and controlled; and
- Making sure when you plan to be away for any length of time that Security knows how to get hold of you and that you’ve completed the required Permission to Enter forms.
There are many advantages to living in the St. George, which we all appreciate. Because we are 117 residential units plus two floors of commercial units, totalling some 250 people, there are some CONDO COMMON COURTESIES we should all observe, to ensure a cooperative and harmonious experience for everyone.
Some reminders of DOs & DON’Ts, in no particular order:
- Properly coil and hang up the car wash hose for the next person.
- Your parking space is for your vehicle not for storage of items which belong in your locker.
- Break down & flatten cardboard boxes to allow room in the dumpster for other recycling.
- Your winter boots & shoes should be stored in your unit, not on the carpet in the hallway.
- Don’t wear your wet or dirty street shoes in gym or pool area.
- Throwing things off your balcony, including cigarette butts, is definitely a no-no.
- The speed limit on the ramps and in the parking levels is posted as 5 km/hr not 25 km/hr, for the safety of everyone.
- Following another vehicle through the same open door is dangerous and prohibited, as clearly indicated on entry the signs.
- Hallway storage rooms are not intended for fridges & freezers powered at the expense of the corporation.
- Trickle chargers in the parking garage at corporate expense are not permitted.
President's Corner - September 2016
You may have noticed a number of projects on the go, many of which were badly needed. We told you in the past three Newsletters what we were planning to do, so here is a brief summary of what we’ve been able to accomplish to date:
Building Maintenance & Appearance:
The Waterfall-ground level/upper level pools which are the signature features of the St. George, dormant for 2 years, have been refurbished and are operational. The 3rd level patio has been cleaned, furniture refinished and new pieces added, which has encouraged greater use. New steel doors have been installed, base boards and doors are being painted and wallpaper repaired. The Bike Rooms were repainted and reorganized and a more detailed system for tracking maintenance project status was implemented.
Financial & Property Management:
We’re working with our new Auditor and Property Manager to better align our budget and audit formats and validate the allocation of residential and commercial revenues. The Fiscal Year ended with a surplus despite increased costs and the Axia contract was renewed with the proviso that we intend to re-tender next year.
We continue to keep you informed with this quarterly Newsletter and the updated St. George Web Site. The Residents’ Manual has been revised, adding additional items and articles and will soon to be posted on the web site.
The new Security Advisory Committee has been actively assessing and recommending improvements to our security posture, some of which are now complete. Additional CCTV cameras were installed for increased surveillance plus greater video storage capacity and an improved camera controller for Security Staff. A spring-activated Auto-Gate Closer was attached to the center gate to the Waller Mall. A wrought iron fence was fastened to the front planters to stop people sitting on our flowers, and No Trespassing Signs and better lighting were installed on the east side entrance area.
Other Accomplishments & Efficiencies:
An LED lighting retrofit of some 1150 lights + 3000 additional components in the common element areas is underway, which will save an estimated $25 to $30 thousand per year in electricity and maintenance costs. A new Carbon Monoxide Monitoring system was installed in the garage for your safety. The Guest Suite Reservation system was improved to be fairer and easier to use. The Patio Reservation system has been better defined. A Workplace Violence & Harassment Policy was developed and adopted; and last but certainly not least the Board Appeal of the court ruling on pay and display public parking in our building was successful. All legal expenses are covered by insurance and the commercial applicant.
Particular thanks to Ross Hynes and Bill Campbell for their extra efforts on your behalf.
Your comments are always welcome. See you at the AGM on 9 November.
The Condominium is a co-operative arrangement in which all owners and residents agree to certain rules and regulations as set out in the Declaration and further described in the Residents’ Manual. Some new residents may not be up to speed on all of them so I suggest you peruse the hard copy in the lobby or the St. George Web site. In recent months a few problems have come to the attention of the Board.
Do not pour grease down the drain – water has backed up and overflowed sinks in other units because the stacks were plugged with grease and debris, generating some expensive plumber bills. The Residents’ Manual Item 2.13 Water System states clearly that ”no sweepings, garbage, rubbish, ashes, grease, kitty litter or any other substances are to be put down the drains or flushed down the toilets.”
No Garburators – The same section 2.13 in the Residents’ Manual states, ”In-sink garbage disposal units are not allowed by City of Ottawa By-law” for the same reason that they plug the drains.
Clean your unit air vents – Section 2.15 of the Manual Heating and Air Conditioning System states, “Air is circulated through vents located in each room. These should be kept clean to avoid accumulation of dust particles. The large air intake vent (usually located just inside the door to your unit and / or Master bedroom) should be cleaned with a vacuum cleaner at least twice a month. This will keep the filter clean and prolong the life of the air conditioner motor. It is not the responsibility of the Corporation to clean your unit vents.
Keep your balcony clean – But as Section 2.20 of the Residents’ Manual states, “don’t sweep dirt or water over the edge” and make other balconies and windows below dirty.
No airbnb – The Declaration Article III, UNITS Section 3.2 Occupation and Use states, “The occupation and use of the Units shall be in accordance with the following restrictions and stipulations: (a) Residential Units shall be occupied only for the purpose of a single family dwelling and for no other purpose,...and (h) The Owner of each unit shall require all tenants, residents and visitors in his unit to comply with the Act.
Good News for Guest Suite Bookings
Residents may now book the Guest Suite up to six months in advance for up to 14 days. If requested, the Board may approve an extended period beyond 14 days. Special rules apply for reservations during the high demand holiday periods such as Christmas, New Years, February Family Day, Easter, Canada Day, Labour Day and Thanksgiving. A reservation request for a minimum of two days will be accepted starting six months in advance up to noon three months in advance. If there are no other requests for that holiday then the reservation may be confirmed. If more than one request has been received by the deadline then a supervised draw will be held to determine the winner and to establish a waiting list. The successful resident of a draw will not be eligible for the same period the following year. Thanks to Rene & Jo Ann Bornais for pointing out the inequities and to Bill Campbell for developing a more logical and fairer reservation procedure. See Security for additional details.
All the best to you and yours this Summer!
The following is a brief update on what your Board and St. George volunteers have been doing since the AGM and what we’re planning for the new Fiscal Year:
Appeal of Court Decision: A major issue that has occupied much of the Board’s time is the Court case concerning pay and display public parking in the building. As you know, the Board did not agree with the proposal or the court decision. You will have received a letter from our legal counsel telling why the Board, with their full support, is appealing the judge’s decision. We are lucky to have Ross Hynes, with his legal background on the Board. He has worked tirelessly on this file and a number of other legal issues over the winter.
He’s also challenged CMG which owns Axia, to implement a more modern, user – friendly information system which the Board and owners can use to retrieve information and communicate with the Property Manager. He initiated a restructuring of Board minutes, grouping items under principal categories to make the whole process simpler and easier to follow and has spearheaded the formulation of the 2016- 2017 budget, which you’ll hear about shortly. Suffice to say he’s been very busy working for the corporation plus Acting President during my absence. A big thank you to Ross on your behalf for all his hard work.
We’ve formed the Security Advisory Committee, which I spoke of last issue. Harold Young and Al Rivard – both ex-RCMP officers will look at all aspects of St. George security and make recommendations . One contactor has already submitted proposals to upgrade some of our CCTV cameras and, video recording capability. More to follow.
Community Engagement is progressing in the form of letters and meetings with the Commercial Owners to build better communications channels. Their response has been positive. The Social Committee is already planning the June party and the Welcome Committee has visited all new arrivals and delivered welcome gift kits.
Operating Efficiencies remain a priority, and an electrical contractor is preparing a proposal to replace all building lighting with LED bulbs with potential for significant hydro savings.
Other Projects include the waterfall and patio pool repairs, to be contracted soon - Carbon Monoxide Monitoring in the garage, replacement of some fans, and a survey of balcony slabs for new protective membranes. The Bike room reorganization and refurbishment project is about to start and our maintenance contractor will be directing his efforts this spring to bring the building up to the condition you all expect. To comply with the Ontario Labour code a Harassment Policy for the St. George, which defines acceptable conduct for all residents, staff, the Board, property manager and contactors has been prepared and will be posted soon.
Comments or questions are always welcome. See you at the party on 5 June.
The Annual General Meeting was held on 21 October and your Board of Directors now has four new enthusiastic and committed members. A big thank you to Ross Hynes, Bill Campbell and Sarah Hurman for standing for election and another well-deserved thank you to the St. George Residential Owners Association for their collective efforts getting out the vote. The increased participation by owners, either in person or by proxy, was most encouraging to see and the support you showed the candidates much appreciated.
Your new Board is already engaged in making a difference in five priority areas:
- Building appearance will be enhanced by more frequent inspection and prompt corrective action;
- Security posture will be reviewed and augmented or adjusted where necessary;
- Communications to both residential and commercial owners and tenants will be increased and improved;
- Residential and commercial engagement will be increased to develop a greater sense of community; and
- Operating efficiencies will be sought to maximize your investment and minimize costs.
Your Board looks forward to an increased and developing dialogue with all the people in the building to make the St. George an even better place to live.