The instant understanding that came with the ‘COVID excuse’ in the first few months of the pandemic seems to have faded and residents want things ‘back to normal’. They want their gyms re-opened, their lawns tidied up, and the repairs that were put on hold from last spring completed. But the reality is that the pandemic is still finding new ways to impact our lives as the weeks and months go by.
Benjamin Franklin once said: “He that is good for making excuses is seldom good for anything else,” and as the days go by, managers are seeing, more than ever, that their residents are not as patient and understanding as they were last year when the virus frenzy was just beginning.
According to recent publications from the Business Development Bank of Canada, 64 per cent of Canadian businesses say labour shortages are limiting their growth, and Statistics Canada has reported a record number of job vacancies in the construction industry.
Labour shortages are a real problem. Residents who are perplexed about why the leaves have still not been blown out from under their deck might not realize that in many cases the company owners themselves are working 16-plus hour days to keep up with existing client needs while struggling to reacquire employees lost during the pandemic.
CERB is just ending and that will not immediately fix the labour shortage, considering that many who were working during the pandemic have recently taken leave from their jobs because of company vaccine policies.
COVID is also impacting maintenance routines. For example, as a colleague recently experienced, waiting 16 months for the repair of special gym equipment only to be told the trade elected to decline the scheduled service due to a recently implemented vaccine policy at the condominium for shared facilities.
As policies continue to change and the labour market remains unsettled, managers must continue to ride the waves.
Supply chains are another area where the pandemic fluctuations continue to impact managers. Renovations continue to increase at a steady pace. A recent survey conducted for Formica Canada by Léger asked more than 1,000 homeowners across the country about their renovation plans and revealed that 16 months after the pandemic emerged, interest in renovations remains strong with more than 30 per cent of respondents planning to renovate their kitchen or bathroom in the next 12 months.
The current wait time for some appliances is eight months or more. If something needs replacing at a site with older equipment that is hard to source, there could be a long wait until things are back in operation. A site with 100 units and two elevators is really going to struggle if one elevator is out of service for weeks, or months.
Suspicion still lingers in the air from when COVID first hit. Rather than Lysol-spraying groceries, many remain acutely aware of every item they touch and the potential harm that such transference may conjure. There is great tension in many interactions, and this is especially true when residents who are tired of hearing the “COVID excuse” reach a manager who is equally tired of repeating it as an honest justification.
A recent case highlighted by Gardiner Miller Arnold’s Ontario Condo Law Blog saw an owner complain that the condominium corporation had acted oppressively by failing to replace his windows when he wanted them replaced (with no evidence that his windows required replacement).
A graceful exit from the dark tunnel of COVID challenge to the light of normalcy just ahead requires trust, mutual respect, and ongoing patience to give us all safe passage—together. Be kind.
Kirsten Dale is an Ontario licensed condominium manager (CMRAO) and a registered condominium manager (ACMO) with MCRS Property Management, based in Huntsville, Ontario providing condominium management services in Simcoe, Muskoka, Parry Sound and Haliburton.