In January 2011, the Office of the Information & Privacy
Commissioner ("OIPC") released updated privacy guidelines
to help Strata Corporations and Strata Agents discharge their
duties under the Strata Property Act, while meeting their
obligations to protect owners, tenants and occupants' personal
information under the Personal Information Protection Act
("PIPA"). PIPA defines "personal
information" as information about an identifiable individual.
Examples of personal information include a person's name, age,
home phone number, medical information, financial information, and
marital status. Not surprisingly, the Guidelines also included
provisions regarding video surveillance systems, which are becoming
more and more common in new strata developments.
According to the OIPC, while video surveillance systems do not
violate PIPA, video cameras are inherently intrusive.
Before installing video equipment or activating a surveillance
system that was installed by the original developer, a strata
corporation must be in a position to justify using the surveillance
on the basis of verifiable, specific concerns about residents'
personal safety or the protection of personal and common property
that other measures have failed to address (Shoal Point Strata
Council,  B.C.I.P.D. 34). Video surveillance cameras
must also be strategically placed to capture the security breaches
it aims to address. For example, a strata corporation that has
experienced a series of vehicle break-ins may be able to justify
using video surveillance in the parkade, but may not be able to
justify using the same system in the social room. Areas where
owners, tenants, occupants, visitors and/or employees would have a
reasonable expectation of privacy (e.g. change-rooms and washrooms)
are not permitted to be monitored.
Last but certainly not least, the OIPC requires strata
corporations to have a bylaw, or alternatively, obtain every
owner's written consent, before installing or activating a
video surveillance system. Since owners, tenants and
residents of strata corporations are subject to frequent turnover,
maintaining these individual consents can be quite
problematic. As a result, assuming that video surveillance is
supported by a ¾ vote resolution of the owners at a General
Meeting, it is much easier to pass and register video surveillance
bylaws in the Land Title Office. In addition to these bylaws,
strata corporations must have a comprehensive written privacy
policy in place that governs the video surveillance system as well
as all the personal information the strata corporations collects.
This policy should be made available to residents upon their
request, and when it comes to video surveillance systems, should
include the following information: confirmation that the
surveillance system is for security reasons; the names of
individuals who are authorized to view the surveillance footage and
in what circumstances; the number and location of video cameras;
the operation time of the video surveillance system; the length of
time video footage is retained and how it is securely stored;
procedures for how access requests will be made and answered; and
procedures for notifying owners, tenants, guests and visitors that
the video surveillance system is in operation.
The content of this article is intended to provide a general
guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought
about your specific circumstances.
To print this article, all you need is to be registered on Mondaq.com.
Click to Login as an existing user or Register so you can print this article.
Register for Access and our Free Biweekly Alert for
This service is completely free. Access 250,000 archived articles from 100+ countries and get a personalised email twice a week covering developments (and yes, our lawyers like to think you’ve read our Disclaimer).