Shortland Penn + Moore director David Allen paid a visit to Canada recently – and he has noted down his thoughts on the trip from a property point of view.
The overwhelming impression of Canada that it is big. The eastern seaboard Toronto, Montreal and those main commercial centres are only five hours’ time difference behind London. Vancouver is eight hours behind and it is a five hour plane journey to get there.
There is a big difference in temperature between winter and summer or as they term it winter and construction.
This can be from -300c to + 300c and probably a bit wider as well.
This leads to some unusual property implications not the least of which seems to be the ability to live underground and link shopping centres at lower levels such that the pedestrian hardly ever emerges onto the street during winter. If you want to know more, have a look at this website: http://bit.ly/1bszHpw
In Toronto, there are some familiar property names which we have grown used to in London such as Brookfield Multiplex, Oxford Properties and Ivanhoe Cambridge.
These are all backed by the various pension schemes who have been large investors in the UK including Birmingham Airport.
Some similarities and transferable aspects could be the one per cent for art which was prevalent in Toronto as part of granting planning permission or their equivalent and similar agents boards to those we see over here.
Overseas buying on a speculative basis – mainly the Chinese – has inflated the residential markets specifically in Vancouver and also in Toronto. This has led politicians to raise some remarkably familiar stories of empty investment units (in Vancouver there are supposedly 10,000) flipping of properties, student housing shortage and a lack of rental supply.
This had led the local British Columbian or Vancouver authorities to impose a 15 per cent overseas buyer’s tax.
REITS are losing momentum according to one of the papers I read while I was there.
While we think of Canada as a sophisticated financial economy which did not go through the recession in the way that the UK did, its reliance on raw materials and prime commodity exports features very strongly in all the newspapers. Negotiations with the Chinese are about the quality of grain imports as much as anything else.
My abiding memory is not property related but was to read the imposition of a seven cent per litre tax on fuel would make rather a lot of difference to a farmer with a combine harvester with an 11,000 litre tank!