Richardson’s plan to right the TREB `Titanic’


Excerpts from Toronto Real Estate Board executive officer Don Richardson's speech to members on September 26, 2000:


You have all seen or read the story of the Titanic -‑ a fantastic and real story which has

fascinated us through the ages. The biggest, most beautiful and most powerful ship afloat.

The captain received iceberg warnings, but was under pressure to establish a speed record

across the Atlantic. Tension builds as you know the inevitable is about to occur.

Haven't you ever watched that and wanted to shout warnings, or better yet wanted to be on the bridge and give the order to slow down, while you yanked the wheel over to steer a new course around that iceberg? It is that kind of fascination and opportunity that caused me to step forward for this job.

TREB is the largest, most beautiful and most powerful real estate board afloat. We offer some wonderful services -‑ seminars, life insurance for every member, discount programs, photography, distribution of dailies and Real Estate News.

But we are off course. We have been led astray by the quest for dollars. We do not have to be like the Titanic -‑ together we can slow down, re‑assess and yank the wheel over to steer a new course.

TREB is a not-for-profit corporation formed to serve the needs and further the goals of all

members collectively. Services should be provided fairly and equally regardless of size,

affiliation or specialty. TREB is not a business venture -‑ it is a service organization. We

need to return to our reason for existence and make decisions first based on what I have been calling the 'prime directive' -‑ is it good for members and the profession? We need to provide an infrastructure for exchange of ideas and information, be a unified voice for members, promote our profession and do good community work.

We need to stop the infighting and the delusions of grandeur. We do not have to be the real

estate board to the world, in order to be a world‑class board. We need to concentrate on

Toronto members while being a good partner and neighbour in the tapestry that is organized real estate. We do not have to be the post Titanic either. We don’t have to have a $25 million operating budget. We can streamline our ship and be more efficient and effective.


We need to:

1. Return to our not-for-profit roots. We need to observe the prime directive: “Is it good

for members?”, not “Does it make money?”, not “Is it good for the board administrator?”

2. Focus on our Toronto membership: listen to our members; assess services; end duplication;

stop trying to do the job of the provincial and national associations.

3. Streamline infrastructure: basic services; TREBnet; facilities; ACCPAC; DOS; classrooms; stabilize staffing.

4. Re‑establish procedure: our bylaws need a total re‑do; our governance process is poor;

committee/board roles are fuzzy.

5. Have no secrets: open meetings; open communication.  Hope is great for our TV project, but secrecy has made everyone distrustful.

6. Rebuild relationships.

7. Put finances in order: We don't need $25 million. If we stop fighting, we save a million.

If we stop micromanagement, internal bureaucracy and chargebacks, we save a million. If we

stabilize staffing, we save a million.

8. Encourage participation. We need new blood and new ideas on committees and on the board and in elections.

9. Foster community involvement.

10. Build mutual respect: let's stop the squabbling between staff and directors; let's have

respect for volunteers.


I have one thing to say to all the groups pulling away at this board ‑ we just slowed down and changed direction. Stop lighting fires and let us get on with it. Let's declare a moratorium

‑ we need it. We are going to make unified decisions based on what's good for members and the profession.


Thank you for your patience and support. Participate in the board, volunteer for committees,

run for office, vote in the upcoming election. Let's all get TREB proud!





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