Top 10 stories to watch in 2016

What’s trending in commercial real estate this year
Monday, January 18, 2016

With 2016 now underway, REMI’s award-winning editorial team takes a look at the top stories from 2015 and how they will continue to impact the commercial real estate management industry. The articles appear in order of popularity based on reader traffic.

1. Ontario aims to unveil new Condo Act this spring

Michelle Ervin, editor, CondoBusiness, Canadian Facility Management & Design: 2015 was a big year for Condominium Act reform in Ontario. CondoBusiness learned in late February, through an exclusive interview with David Orazietti, minister of government and consumer services, that the government intended to introduce a bill in its spring session. As promised, the Protecting Condominium Owners Act landed at the provincial legislature for first reading in late May.

Since then, Bill 106 has been debated in second reading, subject to public hearings and clause-by-clause analysis at standing committee and returned to the legislature with amendments for a third and final reading. Although the legislation that will amend the Condominium Act and introduce the Condominium Management Services Act has been passed and received Royal Assent, it won’t take effect until proclaimed into force. In the meantime, stay tuned as the government sets about writing the regulations that will flesh out the details of the changes.

2. Sherway Gardens remakes shopping experience

Rebecca Melnyk, editor, Building Strategies & Sustainability: Cadillac Fairview’s new mall expansion at Sherway Gardens was a big event in the Greater Toronto Area last year. The 210,000-square-foot addition, which took more than three years to plan and build, now houses some of the best in-class retailers in the quality merchandise mix. Yet, the $550 million expansion also signals a new era of retail that is sweeping across the country. Mobile consumers are more aware of worldwide brands, and such brands are now keen to jump into the Canadian market. Online competition is pushing shopping centres to attract such retailers and rethink shopping as an experience. From text concierge technology and Path Intelligence to enhanced parking, retail centres are evolving to meet the demands of our mobile era.

3. Technology set to change construction

Cheryl Mah, editor, Design Quarterly, Construction Business: Adoption of new technology in construction has historically been slow but that trend is changing. With projects becoming more complex and a looming skills trade shortage, companies must invest in technology to stay competitive and productive.

4. New apartment construction surges in Canada 

Erin Ruddy, editor, Canadian Apartment: Purpose-built apartment construction is surging across Canada, with some calling it a rental renaissance. In 2015, all eyes were on the influx of new multi-residential developments that began to swell, most notably in Canada’s largest urban centres. Colliers International reported in the fall that new condo construction is expected to decline between now and 2017, while purpose-built rental construction is forecast to increase. So which way will the pendulum swing? Time, indeed, will tell.

5. Enforcing Smoke-Free Ontario Act changes

Michelle Ervin: Legislative changes are increasingly limiting the areas where smokers can light up. Last year, Smoke-Free Ontario Act changes required people to butt out at publicly owned sports field, extended the ban on restaurant and bar patios to include uncovered patios and prohibited the sale of tobacco on post-secondary campuses. At the same time, the City of Toronto made mandatory the nine-metre buffer zone at building entrances and exits that some property owners and managers had already voluntary enacted. Most recently, the Ontario government passed the Making Healthier Choices Act, which includes a provision banning the use of e-cigarettes — previously a hazy area of the law — in all areas where cigarettes are banned.

6. One of the tallest wood buildings set for UBC

Cheryl Mah: Tall wood buildings continue to gain momentum in North America. B.C. is leading the way in Canada with a number of projects completed, under construction or proposed. More projects are expected as advocates champion the beauty, strength, versatility and cost effectiveness of using high tech wood construction.

7. An affordable remedy to a national crisis 

Erin Ruddy: As we move into 2016, the affordable housing crisis will continue to be a national concern. In 2015, Greenwin and Verdiroc proposed a turn-key solution to address the growing need and lack of government funding. Rather than grants, their proposal is that the federal government raise capital via “35-year development bonds.” We look forward to following this important story and learning more about what Cary Green, Chairman if Greenwin Inc., calls a viable, sustainable solution.

8. New prestige office buildings capture market

Barbara Carss, editor, Canadian Property Management: Scheduled completions of new prestige office towers and lacklustre forecasts for economic growth point to continued leasing challenges in 2016. Market dynamics in Calgary bear particular watching, while real estate is generally acknowledged to be on the downward slope of the investment cycle right across Canada.

9. Utilities flagged for cap-and-trade costs

Barbara Carss: Ontario’s imminent cap-and-trade regime will bring pass-through energy cost premiums for consumers, but there could be opportunities for the real estate sector to profit if emissions reductions gained from energy retrofits can be established as an offset credit.

10. Designing for an aging population

Rebecca Melnyk: Health and wellness in the workplace is a growing trend across Canada. How the built environment is facilitating the demand for better lighting, air quality, fitness options and accessibility, is an issue expected to rise to the forefront in the next couple of years. As a result, designing for an aging population must also be considered as buildings impact our wellbeing.

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