I read the story about Mr. Lowe’s conflict with Alberta Real Estate Association (AREA) and the follow-up article in REM attempting to place some context around his accusations and felt the need to comment and make a defence of the good people and important work that is done by AREA. 1
First, a little context:
I was in the situation of being “under investigation for professional misconduct” by the Real Estate Council of Alberta (RECA) under false premises in their wanting to gag my opinion of RECA’s Residential Measurements Standard (RMS). The RMS was apparently concocted by those without understanding of real property law and existing legal standards of measurement. RECA, as the administrator of the Real Estate Act in Alberta, dismissed all existing conventions for measuring real property and imposed a new and unique area measurement of only the interior floor space, which is paid for and used only by Alberta real estate agents and which they have been forced to use in their advertising.
I estimated the cost of this second system to be in the order of $10 million annually to the real estate industry agents. More importantly, and because it differs from the legal measurements, there are now two systems (legal measurements and RECA’s RMS) and this disintegrates information, causing confusion amongst the public and creates a greater risk to agents, for which they pay the privilege. The public is not protected. In fact it is at more risk as the legal measurements, which are used in every other instance, are by definition different. Beyond that, it was implemented without previous notice one day and declared that all were forthwith to use this new system. With a background in geodesy and geomatics and land information systems I was immediately aware of the folly.
However, in my protesting this second system, RECA ran over my constitutional charter rights by threatening me with my license and hence my livelihood. And I was not the only one.
The regulator was out of line with its role managing the Real Estate Act and regularly encroached into areas outside of the act where it had no mandate or expertise, to the point of in my case, using manipulative legal actions to disguise its incompetence. I have studied and worked as an engineer in measurement systems and yes, it is my opinion, but the ignorance in the implementation of RECA’s RMS is apparent not just to me.
In the two years since, RECA has been investigated by the government for whom it administers the Real Estate Act, and major systematic changes in governance have been made.
Until my protest and although I have been licensed for 27 years and have been a member of three boards, I hadn’t really understood the role of industry associations like AREA. However, when my charter rights were threatened by RECA, I found that AREA was there to defend me by providing moral support and legal advice.
I also learned that AREA does a lot of very important work on behalf of the industry and keeps the industry moving forward. My hope is that the reform of RECA and the new act will stop malevolent practices. This of course is my opinion and I am able to say it now only because I am retired and no longer concerned about my license being arbitrarily revoked.
So back to Mr. Lowe’s concerns:
- The membership advocacy program was started because of people like me who have been targeted by the regulator for no reason and with false charges in order to gag legitimate objections. I did not give up my charter rights and freedom of speech as a premise to having a real estate license. I know of at least two others who suffered the same false premises in the RMS debacle. In my case the continuing terror caused to me by RECA was the reason for finally leaving my practice two years later. However, AREA’s support in the meantime was critical to my well being.
- Members availing themselves of help from their association must have the confidence of privacy.
Frank McCullough MEng, BBA, DULE