Town planning was a community issue of interest to the Association during 1927 to 1938. The Association continued work on comprehensive policies and on the development of specific areas in the city. In August 1927, for example, City Council asked the Association to be a member of a town planning and zoning committee. It consisted of aldermen and representatives from various public organizations who acted as advisors to the City Council on these issues.
When the Town Planning Commission was established in 1929 the Association played a more permanent role. The Commission was authorized to prepare a major street plan and a zoning bylaw, which was completed in 1933. H. Milton Martin served as chairman of the Commission during this period. The tradition of Board involvement on this Commission was carried on by Luke Winterburn. Sid Lawrie was the Board's representative on the Zoning Appeal Board.
The Association also became involved in the ongoing issue of Edmonton's civic centre development, which had been shelved because of the high land costs. At the October 17, 1927, meeting, Alderman Gibbs discussed the objectives of the Town Planning Committee and "invited the fullest co-operation of the Association in their deliberation." He also reviewed the history of the civic centre plans and showed maps on the proposed lay-out and the small amount of property to be acquired. After his presentation, a committee was appointed to interview those private land owners who were holding out for a price considered above its real value. These meetings - if they took place - had no effect on the civic centre development at that time.
In November 1929, John Yule, the Association's secretary, drew attention to the lack of street number signs and posts. In his letter to the city, John Yule noted that the "absence of these signs, apart from being an inconvenience to the citizens gives the city a neglected appearance and causes strangers to form a bad impression. "
By 1939, the effects of the Depression on the Edmonton real estate market were less evident. In his president's report for 1938-39, Sam Ferris reported that
there appears to be no doubt that the real estate market has greatly improved during the past year. Many more sales of house properties have been made, and there are indications of business properties becoming more active on the market. Rentals remain steady at practically the same standard of value that they were a year ago.
There is the same shortage if housing spaces as well as certain types if space for business purposes.
Ferris also noted with satisfaction that the present war had not injured the market. He also thought that people were "becoming more real estate minded all the time, and are taking a renewed interest in this form of investment."
The creation of the Edmonton Real Estate Association in 1927 established the two-tiered membership system, which would remain unchanged until 1995. The creation of this organization reflected the prosperity of the late 1920s. The Association initiated the first cooperation between the Edmonton real estate community and the provincial government. The Real Estate Agents' Licensing Act and its subsequent revisions provided the legislative framework for the industry until the passage of the Real Estate Act in 1995.
The high hopes of 1927 were tested during the Depression. Unlike most real estate associations from this era, the Edmonton Real Estate Association was able to survive through the dedication of a small group of members. The Association and its members were thus able to provide leadership to the industry when better economic times returned beginning with World War Two.
This article is extracted from John Gilpin, Responsible Enterprise: A History of Edmonton Real Estate & the Edmonton Real Estate Board. (Edmonton: Edmonton Real Estate Board, 1997). The Heritage Community Foundation and the Alberta Real Estate Foundation would like to thank John Gilpin and the REALTORS® Association of Edmonton for permission to reproduce this material.