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UPDATED: London/St. Thomas and Brantford realtor associations call for special meetings to address member concerns

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Editor’s note: On May 14, 2024, LSTAR shared the following statement from Kathy Amess, LSTAR 2024 chair:

“LSTAR thanks everyone who joined us for the May 13 Special Meeting. Nearly 700 members attended, with another 244 members voting via proxy. It was the largest attendance recorded at an LSTAR event, with 937 voting delegates, and it was a very productive and respectful meeting.

During a question-and-answer open forum, the delegation received responses to 40 questions that had been submitted by members, with additional questions and comments shared throughout the forum. With respect to the proposed motions, the board of directors was pleased by the overwhelming vote of confidence, with 83 per cent voicing their opposition to removing the board. In addition, the proposed motion requesting the resignation of LSTAR CEO Bill Madder never even made it to the floor, because no one came forward to make the motion.

The LSTAR Board of Directors has a clear path forward and we look forward to continued engagement with the membership, to deliver what our members need and expect from us, to lead LSTAR into the future.”

 

Special general meetings (SGMs) are being held in the near future by the London and St. Thomas Association of Realtors as well as the Brantford Regional Real Estate Association to discuss how decisions are being made in those organizations.

The LSTAR meeting is scheduled for today, May 13, while the BRREA meeting is on June 5. 

“A Special Meeting of London and St. Thomas Association of Realtors (LSTAR) members has been called. LSTAR respects that this is a members’ only meeting, so details are reserved for the members of our association. We look forward to what we anticipate to be a well-attended, interactive meeting with our members,” says Kathy Amess, 2024 LSTAR chair, in a statement.

 

LSTAR meeting motions for consideration

 

In a document obtained by REM, the Notice of Meeting cites several motions to be considered, including that:

  • All changes to MLS or LSTAR services/MLS or LSTAR providers/MLS systems be communicated to the membership and brokerages in an item-specific email and news alert outlining the benefits and disadvantages at least 30 days prior to any contracts signed, changes implemented or contracts terminated
  • LSTAR revoke the notice of termination from the Information Technology Systems of Ontario (ITSO) (and) immediately take the required action to extend the service from ITSO to December 31, 2024
  • The board strike a task force to review all the currently available MLS platforms in Ontario and the decision to move to the PropTx MLS System
  • The board undertake a full governance review by a qualified independent third-party
  • The board be immediately removed and an election of directors be held immediately with nominations of potential directors from the floor at this meeting
  • Bill Madder CEO of LSTAR be requested to resign from his position with LSTAR

Last fall, LSTAR announced it was joining the PropTx MLS service along with other real estate boards, including the Toronto Regional Real Estate Board.

 

‘Ontario-wide MLS listing system is the way to go, but not by one board saying ‘our way or no way’’

 

Jim McCarvell, an associate broker with Re/Max Centre City Realty Inc. in London, has been a member of LSTAR since 1982. He says two main issues have raised concerns with fellow realtors.

“This is the second time, probably within 12 months, that the administration of LSTAR is trying to jam something down the throats of the members without any input and without any regard,” he explains. “The first one was an insurance program (the Ontario Realtor Wellness Program). Our board just says it’s going to cost you $500 a year and too bad, so sad. There was a big chunk of people that said, ‘My wife works as well and she’s got a good plan so we’re going to stay with that.’ They basically told you, ‘Who cares? It’s going to cost you if you like it or not.’”

The second issue McCarvell points out is about amalgamating with the Toronto system: “They had four people out of 1,500 test the system on a very time-limited basis and they got back all kinds of feedback. They already had one meeting and it was sort of forced on them.

The microphones were just lined up. People were clapping for the resistance. Booing. They brought in a lawyer. They brought in an official MC and this sort of stuff. They knew it was backfiring on them — that there were just too many people ready to stand up and say ‘enough is enough.’”

McCarvell says an Ontario-wide MLS listing system is the way to go, but “not by one board jamming it down everybody’s throat saying, ‘It’s our way or no way.’”

 

BRREA meeting called to remove and install new board of directors

 

Ryan Campbell, real estate broker with The Crew Real Estate at Real Broker Ontario Ltd., in Paris, Ontario, says the BRREA meeting was called to remove the current board of directors and install a new board due to the current board’s handling of its MLS provider agreement. A two-thirds vote of those members in attendance plus proxy votes is needed to remove the board. 

“BRREA’s current contract with ITSO is expiring in August and rather than sign another contract, the current board decided that we should use PropTx, the current provider for TRREB. This would leave us without a data-sharing agreement with the boards that surround Brantford where our agents do a good deal of business as well, (like) Waterloo, Hamilton, Burlington and Simcoe,” he says.

Campbell explains that the surrounding boards decided to amalgamate into the Cornerstone Association of Realtors (CAR). “I hosted the presidents of these boards at my office for an information session for interested agents last month. They informed us that they have a data-sharing agreement with the ITSO boards but not with PropTx at this point.”

He says the primary issue for the agents that called for the SGM is data and the idea of needing a dual membership to access the boards surrounding them. “We are a one-member, one-vote board and the question was asked if the board needs the membership’s vote to change MLS providers. The answers given were unclear about whether this was required.” This is what led a group of members to call for the SGM and bring the issue to the membership.

“Since this issue has arisen, three members of the board have resigned and new members were appointed by current board members. A commitment was made to take another look at the PropTx agreement (it’s a 10-year commitment and some members were uneasy about the length) and a task force was to be formed regarding amalgamating with CAR.”

 

Response from BRREA

 

In an emailed statement, David DeDominicis, president of BRREA, says special meetings of the membership are available as an option to members who have an item they would like to see debated or an action they would like to see taken.

“In this instance, a minority of members have raised concerns with ongoing discussions between the board of BRREA and the board of PropTx. It is factual and well-known that the board is engaged in contract negotiations to transition to this platform; however, at this time, no contract has been signed with PropTx and BRREA continues to be in the process of negotiating the best deal for our members,” he says.

The statement goes on to say: “BRREA recognizes the MLS landscape in Ontario is changing and it is the board’s responsibility to ensure our members are best served by the platforms and services we use. After a lengthy review of the MLS platforms surrounding our regional jurisdiction, it was determined that PropTx, under the correct terms, is the best option for our members.

The volunteer board members of BRREA are informed in their evaluation not only by their expertise as local realtor members but also through the continuous conversations they have with the membership of our organization. The board’s highest priority is always finding the best value for our members and ensuring every decision made has the best interest in mind for the membership.”

 


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