Openness and Transparency: New Policies
Openness and transparency are important concepts, and Council is committed to improving both, as pledged in the recent consultation with our stakeholders. I am pleased to share that, after extensive research and a thorough and detailed review of consultation responses, Council approved recommendations to expand Council openness and transparency at our July meeting.
These recommendations focus on increasing the transparency of Council meetings, the re-establishment of an annual meeting, and increasing openness surrounding RECA disciplinary processes and outcomes.
Now the real work begins, as Council and RECA Administration work to develop the policies that will support the implementation of these recommendations. To read about the coming changes, check out the article on Openness and Transparency in this issue of the Regulator, here.
New Resources, Greater Opportunities
RECA launched its Home Seller’s Guide as the companion to the Home Buyer’s Guide launched in the fall. The Home Seller’s Guide is a mobile-friendly, comprehensive guide for Albertans selling, or thinking of selling, their home. I encourage real estate and mortgage professionals to show this Guide to their clients, as the more educated sellers are about the process, the smoother the transaction. The creation of these guides is part of Council’s commitment in our Strategic Plan to expand consumers’ awareness of RECA and their knowledge of the real estate industry.
I’m also extremely pleased with the launch of the Self-Represented Program for industry members involved in our hearings process. This program is a resource for industry professionals who decide to represent themselves at hearings and appeals. The Program offers a complete guide for the process, checklists for hearing preparation, access to plain language process forms and applications, and a free two-hour consultation with an independent lawyer to obtain information about the hearings process. You can learn more about the Self-Represented Program in this Regulator.
RECA continues to enjoy valuable partnerships with post-secondary institutions, including, most recently, negotiating a new arrangement with MacEwan University and the continuation of an agreement with Olds College. RECA is negotiating a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with MacEwan University, under which they will use RECA Education content to form part of their minor program in Property Management. RECA also renewed an existing MOU with Olds College, wherein the College will continue to offer RECA’s Property Valuation course as part of their Land and Environment Program. RECA remains open to exploring further partnerships with educational institutions and organizations, creating maximum access for potential industry professionals across the province.
Third Party Regulatory Review Update
RECA is making significant progress with the recommendations made during our third-party regulatory review conducted by Field Law in early 2016. Field Law made 33 recommendations, all of which Council approved in principle. These recommendations resulted in 41 action items for Council and RECA Administration. Of those 41 action items, 27 items are complete, five more are underway, three are planned to begin in Year 2 of our Strategic Plan, five are on hold pending Government of Alberta legislative changes, and only one item has been deemed as not feasible. That project involved using the Real Estate Practice Advisor in an advisory role to inform industry members of the hearing process. We’re confident the Self-Represented Program is a better way to give valuable information to industry members during the disciplinary process.
Other recently completed action items include the creation of the written Good Character Policy, the adjustment of resources to handle complex complaints more efficiently, and the extensive training and education for Hearing Panel members.
Council Member Profiles
Robyn Moser, an Alberta Real Estate Association (AREA) appointee from the residential real estate sector, is a creative and conscientious contributor to our Council discussions. She brings a fresh perspective to many of our industry issues, which serves us well in her capacity as Vice Chair of both the Property Management and Real Estate Appraiser Advisory Committees, and as RECA’s appointee to AREA’s At Risk Commissions Working Group. Robyn is in her second year on Council.
Bobbi Dawson hails from Grande Prairie, a new AREA appointee from boards outside Calgary or Edmonton where she truly has her finger on the pulse of real estate. Bobbi is enthusiastic and analytical in her approach to our Council business and she has demonstrated her collaborative style as Chair of the Residential Real Estate Advisory Committee, Chair of the Condominium Manager Licensing Advisory Committee, and member of the Finance & Audit Committee.
Phil McDowell, a mortgage broker appointed by the Alberta Mortgage Brokers Association (AMBA), is already well-known for his industry leadership, as he was a former President of AMBA. Phil is from Calgary and is a thoughtful addition to Council, hearing all sides of a subject at the Council table, and applying his practical lens to arrive at a comprehensive yet concise position. He now chairs the Mortgage Brokerage Advisory Committee for RECA, as well as serving as a member of the Finance & Audit, and Legislation Review Committees.
Bill Kirk, the AREA appointee from members of the Calgary Real Estate Board, has a driving interest in governance and is our resident wordsmith! He is attuned to the current concerns in residential real estate and provides valuable and considered counsel in our deliberations. At RECA, Bill acts as Vice Chair for both the Commercial Real Estate and Mortgage Brokerage Advisory Committees, and is a member of the Hearings Committee.