Strata owners looking to set language precedent at B.C. Human Rights Tribunal

Click to play video: 'Richmond condo owners to take language dispute to Human Rights Tribunal' Richmond condo owners to take language dispute to Human Rights Tribunal
WATCH: A group of condo owners in Richmond has won the right to take their case to the Human Rights Tribunal. They're angry their strata meetings are being held in mandarin only. And even though most of the owners are mandarin speaking, the others say they have a right to know what's going on. John Hua reports – Feb 22, 2016

Andreas Kargut says confirmation that his case will be heard by the B.C. Human Rights Tribunal has fueled efforts from other strata owners feeling marginalized.

“It’s validated that we are being oppressed based on our inability to speak an unofficial language which is Mandarin,” he said.

Several former members of the Wellington Court strata council in Richmond allege they were systematically voted out and then told that meetings would no longer include English. They were told in an email from council president, Ed Mao, that it “was the most efficient way for the team this year.”

Alex Tan was the last non-Mandarin member of the council and alleges once other members realized he needed a translator, they worked to get him ousted.

“They would all converse in Mandarin and the property manager would translate it to me in English,” said Tan. “They sent emails to each other but they didn’t send them to me.”

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READ MORE: B.C. condo owners file human rights complaint after board holds meetings in Mandarin

The current strata council, which is named the respondent, must file of notice to settle or officially respond by March 23. If it chooses to respond, is has another 70 days to apply for a dismissal without a hearing. The letter from the B.C. Human Rights Tribunal states the complaint remains unproven.

Multiple attempts to reach with Mao or representatives from AA Property Management Inc. for comment were unsuccessful.

The next strata council meeting has been scheduled for February 23. While there have been reports from media and local politicians that it may be in English or translated, strata owners say there has been no communication directly with them.

“There’s been nothing said to us as owners. Particularly those of us who will be attending the council meeting,” said strata owner Harry Gray.

Kargut says even if an accredited translator is hired, that will not be enough for a settlement.

“That’s only a band-aid. I think that masks the problem. We have to go all the way to set a precedent,” he said.

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