Public Gripes

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Currently my local MLA is the Premier of British Columbia.  I have listed here some changes I would like to see and they probably don't even require any new laws, just enforcement of laws already on the books. Here is a list of my gripes protect consumers, enforce traffic laws, provide better automobile insurance, cancel strata depreciation reports and allow ICBC to provide insurance for strata corporations and maybe even home owners in general.

Protect Consumers:

Have you been shopping lately?  When it comes to consumers, it is a jungle out there! Mostly I am referring to the Metric system which we started in Canada in 1970.  That was 47 years ago.  When it started stores were allowed to show both prices, Metric and Imperial but the Metric price was required to be much more prominent that the Imperial price while the price at the register was required to be in Metric.  Now the Imperial price is shown much more prominently than the Metric price, in fact you probably need a magnifying glass to see the Metric price. Then when you get to the cash register, if you are able to see the monitor as the prices are entered, there is no way you can tell if you were charged the correct price since the cash register is in Metric.  Maybe you will be able to check to prices when you get home, but some stores have decided they can save a tiny tiny bit of money by only giving you a slip showing the total.  (Private BC liquor stores come to mind.)

Another way stores have decided to trick consumers is by showing large price labels under their products.  Only by looking very closely with a magnifying glass, can you see that is for quantities of three.  If you buy less than three it is a much higher price! If you buy more than three the price changes again!

It used to be that stores that advertise prices were required to have enough product on hand and if they run out of their advertised specials they would be required to give rain checks.  Now they simply put some fine print in their advertisement "subject to availability" and they get away with this bait & switch nonsense.

Worst are the delicatessens.  They advertise their products in kilos, pounds, grams, ounces,... whatever sounds best to them.  Then like the private liquor stores they want to save money on printing receipts.

After 47 years most everyone in Canada, especially new Canadians, know the Metric system.  It is time to ban the Imperial measurements or at a very minimum stops all this nonsense to confuse the consumers.

The best way to do that is to e-mail your premier to ban the Imperial measurements or the the very least make Metric measurements prominent again and do more to protect consumers.

Traffic Laws:

Our roads are becoming like the wild west, it is time to start enforcing the traffic laws again.  Turn on the many cameras we already have at busy intersections to catch all those drivers that run red lights.  Bring back the radar or laser beam devices to catch the speeders on the highways.  Have a retired person stand at an unmarked or even marked and give all those cars that do not stop a ticket.  Just so that it is not all about car drivers, give all those jay-walkers tickets too. Force drivers that have get 3 tickets in a year to take a drivers education course.

How about encouraging the local police force to enforce the traffic laws by making sure that fines collected stay in the community instead of disappearing to the provincial general revenue coffers.

The best way to do that is to e-mail your premier to do their sworn duty to enforce our laws!

Automobile Insurance:

Right now my monthly basic insurance cost from ICBC is higher than my monthly gasoline cost and it is not because I have a bad driving record. Something is very wrong with that!

Years ago the Insurance Corporation of British Columbia was created because our automobile insurers were gauging the drivers.  ICBC solved that problem for a time but now it looks like ICBC, a corporation owned by us, is gauging the drivers.  Have a look at what private some insurance companies in the U.S. are starting to offer, pay per mile car insurance.  If you are retired and not driving much, this should be of particular interest to you.  Do the math and then compare the results with what you are paying for car insurance now; it may be an eye opener for you!

Of course there will be some that say you are giving up your privacy, insurance companies will know exactly how much your drive, they will know when you drive, they will know where you drive and they will probably know how fast you drive too, so what?  Isn't it about time that time that you only pay for the insurance that you need?  ICBC needs to get into the 21st century and start competing with these private pay per mile car insurers.

The best way to do that is to e-mail your premier to order ICBC to offer pay per mile insurance!

Strata Depreciation Reports:

Changes were made recently to the Strata Property Act that requires strata corporations to get a depreciation report every three years unless the owners of the strata corporation vote by 75% not to get a depreciation report.  The idea behind getting a depreciation report is that it allows strata corporations to better plan their contributions to the contingency reserve fund and avoid sudden surprise special levies for repairs and maintenance that owner may have difficulty paying.

There are several reasons why I consider this a bad idea:

  1. Getting a depreciation report is costly and may have no real value to your strata corporation. There are many strata corporations that do repairs and maintenance as required and they do not need to waste money for a depreciation report.

  2. It is insulting to any corporation to require a 75% vote NOT to spend money for a consultation.

  3. Owners find it way too easy to spend money if it does not directly come out of their pocket and to make it even easier to take money out of the contingency reserve fund they reduced the approval required from 75% of the owners to 50% of the owners.

  4. Special levies invite owners to think hard before approving expenditures because they do come directly out of their pockets.  Unlike money you put into the contingency reserve fund, if special levies are not approved you get to keep your money.

  5. This depreciation report is for 30 years and everyone knows buildings have lifespans after which they become money pits and they need to be sold to a developer. Usually they are rented until they turn into slums and then they are demolished.  If you go by a depreciation report you would need to save up enough money in the contingency reserve fund to replace the entire building.
     

A depreciation report may be prepared by any qualified person, i.e. a person who has the knowledge and expertise to understand the individual components, scope and complexity of the strata corporation's common property, common assets and those parts of a strata lot or limited common property, or both, that the strata corporation is responsible to maintain or repair under the Act, the strata corporation's bylaws or an agreement with an owner and to prepare a depreciation report that complies with subsections (1) to (4).  Subsections (1) to (4) spell out what is required in the depreciation report.

Instead of finding a person with all those qualifications you may find someone that has bought a computer program and all that is required is to take a few pictures, plug in some numbers, a report is created and the invoice is generated.  Easy money!  Is the report worth anything?  Probably not, a lot of it is outright guesswork depending upon estimated lifespans and estimated inflation.  There is an old computer saying, garbage in, garbage out.

Another question you may ask is if depreciation reports are such a good idea to have, why are they NOT required for 1-unit strata corporations? (more commonly referred to as a house)

The best way to do that is to e-mail your premier to stop treating strata owners like children.

Strata Insurance:

The Strata Property Act of British Columbia requires Strata Corporations to have insurance and it specifies exactly the insurance requirements.  It also clearly specifies that earthquake insurance is OPTIONAL.  So why when a strata corporation goes shopping for insurance do ALL the private insurance companies force them to buy earthquake insurance?

To make this a bit more clear - the government forces you to buy apples from the insurance industry and the insurance industry tells you they will only sell you apples if you also buy their melons.  I start to wonder how much the insurance industry has contributed to Liberal coffers.

Some of you will say but earthquake insurance is a good thing and that may be true depending upon your location but it is still your choice to make and it should not be forced upon you by the insurance industry.  In my case I live in an area that is not prone to earthquakes, in fact corporations move to this area for that reason.  Then to add insult to injury the earthquake deductible is 10% of the building value.  That means you probably pay for all damage caused by any minor earthquake.  Of course you could add earthquake deductible insurance to your own contents insurance but expect them to double the cost of your premium for that.

We already have an insurance corporation owned by us.  It is a simple matter for the government to order ICBC to offer the basic insurance they require of strata corporations.  The insurance industry needs this competition and it would certainly wipe that smile of their face.

The best way to do that is to e-mail your premier to order ICBC to offer insurance to strata corporations!

You can always e-mail your premier and give the premier your own thoughts!