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Sage Hill Residents Fight ‘Alarming’ Collection of Association Fees – Calgary

Homeowners in the Sage Hill community in northwest Calgary are fighting back after finding letters taped to their door asking for hundreds of dollars in association and legal fees.

“I feel like it was unnecessary,” said Sage Hill resident Nicole MacCallum. “Being threatened, being taken to court and losing your home, people don’t need that anymore after COVID-19.”

She is among dozens of other residents who said they found the Bridgeland Law letters taped to their door last week and initially thought they were fake.

“At first I thought it was a scam, I was really mad at the wording and it seemed very powerful,” MacCallum said. “It took us three or four days to figure out it wasn’t a scam.”

Association fees cost $105 a year and signs are up in the area reminding people they are due, but MacCallum said she never received a notice at her home.

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“I never received an invoice. Honestly, I went to their web page to see how to pay and all they want is a voided check,” MacCallum said. “Nobody has the keys to my bank account and there must be other options to pay.”

In the letter, Bridgeland Law demanded $395 in association and administrative fees as well as more than $650 in legal fees.

“If you ignore this request and submit an uncertified cheque, or attempt to make a payment for a lesser amount, this will result in additional legal costs for which you will be liable,” Richard John of Bridgeland Law said in the letter.

The letter also says people can use Canada Post Express Post to send mail to an address on Macleod Trail in southeast Calgary or place their payment in a sealed envelope and slip it under the door in “the space of secure office.

“We are pursuing a stricter COVID (-19) protocol in my office due to issues with my staff, so we are working remotely,” John said in a phone interview with Global News last week.

“It’s a secure office and there’s someone there to receive (payments) and collect them for us.”

READ MORE: 30% of Calgary community associations question their survival through the pandemic

However, Bridgeland Law’s methods are not suitable for the local councilor either.

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“Many Sage Hill property owners have recently contacted my office to share their concerns with a letter of formal notice taped to their door by Bridgeland Law on behalf of the Sage Hill Residents Association (SHRA),” Ward Councilor 2 said. , Jennifer Wyness, in a social media. Publish.

“I disagree with the handling of this whole situation.”

In a statement to concerned Sage Hill residents, Wyness highlighted several of his concerns.

“During a sensitive time of fraudulent scams happening in our city, a multi-page letter taped to a door demanding payment would be cause for concern for many,” she said. “The content of the letter seemed alarming to me, the second means of payment having to be ‘slipped under the door’ of the law firm.

Wyness said his office contacted Bridgeland Law and John said people need to read the letter, find out about the process, then contact (the) law firm and negotiate a settlement.

“My fees are actually lower,” John said. “In the interest of resolving issues with owners who come to the table willing to settle their arrears, we are prepared to negotiate our fees.”

Sage Hill Residents Association Fees

According to John, 1,700 people in Sage Hill must pay the annual fee of $105 to maintain common spaces in the community, including stormwater ponds, road boulevards, medians, parks, pathways. and playgrounds.

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“It’s actually the responsibility to do the job that has always been done by the City of Calgary,” John explained.

“Promoters are asked, as part of their development, to create this system to integrate the residents’ association.”

Last week John said only 500 of 1,700 owners had paid their fees and he had been instructed by SHRA to collect fees from 360 owners who had not paid their bills for several years.

“Every year an invoice is sent out,” John explained. “I have communicated verbally with the existing property manager and the previous property manager to confirm that invoices have been sent for the period of 2021 and 2022.”

However, Wyness said the breakdown in communication between SHRA and members of his community speaks to deeper issues.

“The threat of a lawsuit taped on people’s doorsteps that hadn’t even been approved by a judge was an intimidating factor, and I think it could have been handled better,” Wyness said. “A registered letter could have easily avoided this.

“This is not the first time this has happened to a community in Calgary, and so it begs the question of how do we make sure that when we build communities, we build them in a way that this situation doesn’t happen. reproduce more? ”

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Sage Hill Residents Association Petition

MacCallum said that since receiving the letter from Bridgeland Law, she has been able to pay her fees, with John reducing legal and administrative fees by 50%.

“I have to settle down and I’m happy to get rid of it, but now we’re going to focus on dealing with the people who caused this,” MacCallum said.

“Right now we have about 200 (signatures) and once we start going door-to-door we hope to get more. That way we can force an annual general meeting and make our voices heard. »

MacCallum said community members hope to collect the signatures they need by early July and then seek to have current SHRA board members removed.

“A group of us have come together now to stand up for our rights,” she said.

“I think if we’re going to pay these (fees), we should be more involved and see where the money goes and try to have more of the things that make a community a community,” she said.

Global News contacted SHRA about the collection costs and was told the issues were being handled by the law firm.

“The owners have been notified of their obligation in accordance with the charge registered on their title,” said Tom Young of C-Era Property Management Company. “They are invited to respond and negotiate with Bridgeland Law to close the deal.”

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