A move to dissolve Saskatchewan’s real estate boards and provincial association with an eye toward forming a single organization has failed to pass after it did not receive the required two-thirds approval from the voting groups.
In a vote held Sept. 26, the necessary two-thirds approval was not reached by the Association of Regina Realtors (ARR) or by the Association of Saskatchewan Realtors (ASR). The Saskatoon Region Association of Realtors and Prince Albert and District Association of Realtors gave sufficient support to the measure.
Under the resolution, each of the three larger associations needed to give two-thirds approval for the resolution to proceed.
The results mean “the entire process will come to a stop. We didn’t meet the required threshold,” says Gord Archibald, CEO of the ARR.
Overall, the dissolution attempt received only 39 per cent support from the Regina association and 64 per cent support from the ASR. But it was approved by 73 per cent of voters from the Saskatoon association and 81 per cent of voters from the Prince Albert association.
Voter turnout was about 45 per cent and in Regina and Saskatoon “there was certainly record turnout for general meetings,” says Archibald, who was part of the Rationalization Taskforce that examined the dissolution of the associations and formation of a single association.
“Being part of a task force that looked into this, we were hoping that the thresholds would be met so that we could move on to start the process and move to one association, so we’re disappointed in that sense,” he says. “On the other side, I think it created a conversation and awareness with members around this particular issue and the opportunities that it presents will (lead to) conversations in the future. And I wouldn’t be surprised that some point down the road – it’s hard to say when – that it’ll be reviewed once again and decided upon.”
Archibald says Regina members were looking for more information such as detailed business and financial plans on how the new entity would proceed. But the task force deliberately did not provide that information, preferring to leave much of the detail up to the leadership of the new association. While members were provided with an information framework as to how the new organization would look and operate that included basic financial information, “some members, at least, were looking for more than that,” says Archibald.
“We didn’t want to restrict or limit the types of decisions it needed to make to put the new organization together,” he says. “I think many people did not support it not because they were opposed to the idea of a single association. They were just waiting for more information.”
Discussions about amalgamation in Saskatchewan go back about 15 years. Proponents argued that dissolving the boards and creating one association would eliminate redundancies and offer members better products and services, such as improved educational opportunities and IT support. It would also result in the hiring of a full-time government relations specialist to lobby on the industry’s behalf.
The taskforce travelled the province making the case for amalgamation and finished its initial communication with members on June 15.
In a recent interview with REM, Kevin Wouters, chair of the Rationalization Taskforce, said “the membership seems mostly in favour of it” but that some opposition existed, which he characterized as being the consequence of misinformation campaigns. “There are some rumours out there about what’s going on and why, and that hasn’t been helpful to us.”
Wouters also disputed a theory by some members that the stronger boards would have to carry the weaker ones and said all are in strong financial shape. Another argument against amalgamation was that membership fees might be higher, which Wouters said was not the case except in some rural areas.
Wouters did not respond to a request for comment Wednesday on the vote.
“We were certainly hoping that we could move ahead,” Archibald says. “We think it’s the right thing to do. There’s always an element of disappointment, but I think the encouraging thing out of this has been that it started a conversation and awareness with members that will continue into the future.”
There was a belief that a new association “would create more breadth and depth in the new entity than what we have in the current configuration,” he says. “I think that argument and opportunity is still there.”
However, Archibald believes it “could be quite some time down the road” before another attempt is made to dissolve the existing associations in favour of a single organization. “It’ll be up to leadership at some point to decide to take another look at it and put it back to members.”