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Real Estate

Planning for the "Cities of the Future"

With three of the ten most livable cities in the world in Canada—Vancouver, Toronto, and Calgary—the country is a proven real estate market to watch, with key trends influencing how these markets are developing.

Reurbanization Solutions

Urban mixed-use developments are one of the most significant sectors to focus on, according to PricewaterhouseCoopers’ (PwC) Emerging Trends in Canadian Real Estate 2017 report.

Toronto-based IBI Group, whose emphasis is on buildings, infrastructure, and environments, was responsible for the design and construction supervision of some 30,000 residential units in Canada in 2016, according to CEO Scott Stewart.

Stewart says the movement toward reurbanization in Canadian cities is currently creating a demand for 100,000 residential units, and with that, innovative development needs. “We don’t see ourselves just as engineers, or planners, or architects, but really as people who come together to create solutions to many of the urban challenges that are faced,” said Stewart.

Dan Scarrow, Vice President at Macdonald Real Estate Group, the largest full-service, integrated real estate company in Western Canada based in Vancouver, notes that commercial investors are primarily interested in Toronto and Vancouver.

According to the PwC Emerging Trends report, the reurbanization shift “is sparking ongoing interest in building rental units—and raising questions about the size of units and the need for supporting infrastructure (e.g., schools, medical facilities, daycare, etc.) to accommodate millennials’ inevitable move toward parenthood and boomers’ downsizing.”

IBI is also looking ahead. “We see ourselves as a firm that defines cities of the future,” said Stewart.

Tech and the Environment

Technology is another factor developers are considering for 2017 and beyond, as buyers, renters, and business owners, are seeking more energy-efficient, and high-tech homes and buildings.

Paul J. Hill , Chairman, President, and CEO of Regina-based Harvard Developments Inc. and The Hill Companies, said the company takes that desire seriously: “In all of our buildings we are focused on the highest level of efficiency and gold standard, and just about everything we do is focused on improving energy efficiency and reducing emissions.”

The PwC report notes this is an important movement for 2017, and beyond: “Innovative systems in waste management and energy conservation will help to achieve net-zero-impact buildings, which are likely to become more popular as concerns over climate change continue.”

Communities are Key

Mattamy Homes, the largest home builder in Canada, and North America’s most significant privately-owned home builder is paying attention to another 2017 trend—creating community.

Much of the success of Mattamy’s 90,000 homes spanning the continent may be attributed to the company’s grasp of a buyer’s desire to find a deeper connection to the place they live.

Mattamy founder and CEO, Peter Giligan, said this philosophy starts with purchasing land and making future homeowners and their dreams central to the development process—what the company calls the “Mattamy Way”. It’s a strategy that has contributed to the company’s success since 1978.

Developers are crafting this concept of community by dynamically combining residential, retail, and commercial spaces. Most respondents of the PwC survey noted that this type of “place-making” is a reality that developers should seriously consider in 2017.

Hill, who said Harvard’s primary residential customers are subdivision builders like Mattamy, agreed: “The other thing I think is important is that people are able to work, play, and live in the same community.”

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