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.
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