Why I Started the Facebook Group by Cheryl Chaytor
Updated: Oct 5, 2019
We first bought at Carriage Hills in 1997. Things were great! We’d have two or three vacations a year and had some amazing exchanges. Even as I was a stay-at-home Mom, we could still squeeze enough money out of our budget to vacation with our kids.
Eventually we were encouraged to switch to points and added on two every-other-year white weeks (odd and even). Very soon we realized that the points, while offering flexibility, did not live up to the hype. Being typical Canadians, we’d grumble a bit about the rising maintenance fees, pay them and then forget about it.
Finally, in 2017, I attended my first Annual General Meeting (AGM). Someone in the know told me about a power play to get Scott Harrison off the Board of Directors. And it happened! But in anticipation, another member stepped down and Scott was reinstated. THAT was a huge eye-opener!!! Someone had way too much power and it wasn’t us, the individual owners.
At the AGM, I stood up and warned owners that Living Waters Spa in Collingwood had a scheme where they’d “take Carriage Hills off your hands” if you buy into their Fractional Ownership. They talked a good game!and we almost fell for it. Other owners were not warned despite my plea and only now are people being warned about the plethora of businesses that present themselves as a way out but just basically steal your money. After how many desperate owners have fallen into their trap?
There was talk about starting up a Facebook group, so I took it upon myself to do that. At last year's AGM we were at 200 members, and now, not even a year later, we are at 585 and counting! However, that is just a drop in the bucket of all the owners we need to contact to change the timeshare agreement (66-2/3%) or to sell the resort (75%).
This group has absorbed so much of my life for the past two years! I quickly realized that owners were truly in the dark about who to contact for information, how to use the resort, how to make exchanges – just basic information. Communication has been spotty to non-existent for years.
Over time we realized that this game is rigged:
· Our HOA was taking owners to collections and small claims court for ongoing maintenance fees, regardless of their situation
· Our resort was built so shoddily that many buildings have had to have major structural work done on our dime….AGAIN!
· Our finances were a mess
· Our reserves were being used up at a fast rate, including using them for day-to-day "operational" expenses
· Our 10% delinquency shot up to 20% at the Aug 2019 budget meeting with no real explanation as to how the numbers changed so quickly.
· We are forbidden an owner list, even though the information is public record at the Barrie Land Registry Office
· Members of the CVOA knew this financial crisis was coming years ago with the aging demographic - yet nothing was done
· Our sales office closed overnight by Wyndham in late 2016 without warning the CH or CR boards - knowing that this would put our resorts into financial distress.
Unfortunately, I will be away for the AGM but it promises to be lively! As many know, BDO Dunwoody has a proposal for us. Irene Parker, a timeshare advocate, will be coming in from Florida to attend these meetings and meet owners. Many of us opened our hearts and wallets to give her a nice Canadian welcome. Thank you!
It is imperative that collectively our next step is to attend our respective AGM’s if we can, but definitely, VOTE regardless! My suggestion is to send your proxy to Scott Harrison for Carriage Hills and Lori Smith for Carriage Ridge - follow the instructions in the "current news" tab. They will represent us well and will have the flexibility to make last-minute decisions if required. We need to have pro-owner members representing us on the Board of Directors.
Lastly, even though this has consumed so much of my (and many other owners) time, it has been a rewarding journey. I have personally helped many people learn to use what they own. I believe our group has also put pressure on our Board and Wyndham to be more transparent. We are truly a grassroots movement responsible for some slow but forward-moving changes.
Where do I hope this goes? Well, I truly hope those who want/need exit will be given the opportunity very soon. Perhaps the Facebook group could once again be a happy place where owners talk about the wonderful exchanges they’ve made, how great Carriage Hills/Ridge is, fun things to do in the area, etc. But until this situation is resolved, I’m afraid it’s going to be a grassroots advocacy site. Because sending 80-year old owners on a pension to collections for ongoing fees is not palatable to me. Especially in juxtaposition to what is going on in the industry with Wyndham and the other big players.