Connect with us


RioCan CEO places bets on building more rental housing as retail sector lags





For the past 25 years, Edward Sonshine has been known as Canada’s shopping mall king.

Now, the chief executive of one of the country’s largest real estate investment trusts wants to be known for something else too: housing.

“It’s not me that changes,” Sonshine said in an interview at RioCan REIT’s head office in Toronto.

“Change in our strategy has always been a reaction to the world changing, business changing, the economy changing.”

Since it was founded in 1993, RioCan has built a portfolio of about 250 properties of retail, warehouse and office properties.

For the past year, the company has been eyeing how it could better use the prime locations of its retail and plaza malls, many of which sit on existing or soon-to-be built transit lines.

A worker walks past a gate at RioCan’s ePlace project, a commercial/residential development, in Toronto in December 2017. Since it was founded in 1993, RioCan has built a portfolio of about 250 retail, warehouse and office properties. (Chris Helgren/Reuters)

Sonshine said it was a no-brainer for RioCan to turn these retail outlets into mixed-use properties by adding rental units and office space to meet a growing demand for housing, especially in the country’s biggest cities.

Last month, Canada Mortgage Housing Corp. reported that demand for rental housing continues to outpace supply due to growth in immigration, the senior population and millennials.

“When you make it harder for people to buy, they are going to rent. They have to live somewhere,” said Sonshine. “The population of big cities continues to grow. We look at it as, the rental market has nowhere to go but be good.”

‘Demand for retail space … will not grow’

Sonshine says the shift is serendipitous because the company is already looking to reduce its exposure to retail, as consumer habits continue to move toward online shopping instead of shopping at a big-box mall.

“There is no question in my mind that the demand for retail space over the next five to 10 years will not grow,” he said.

Sonshine said this first crystallized for him in 2015 when the company’s major tenant, U.S. retailer Target, announced it was shutting down its Canadian locations.

Since then, RioCan has been pulling out of cities like London, Ont., and Grande Prairie, Alta., and reinvesting in the country’s six major urban markets, where it projects the biggest growth. By 2020, RioCan wants more than 90 per cent of its rental income to be generated by properties located in these big cities, up from the current 75 per cent now.

There are currently eight purpose-built rental projects, or 2,300 units, under construction in Toronto, Ottawa and Calgary. The first two developments will launch in the first quarter and the summer of 2019.

The Frontier building is seen in the Gloucester neighbourhood of Ottawa. Within five years, Sonshine sees RioCan’s portfolio being made up of 10 per cent residential properties and five per cent office properties, with the vast remainder still coming from the retail market. (RioCan via Canadian Press)

Within five years, Sonshine sees RioCan’s portfolio being made up of 10 per cent residential properties, five per cent office properties, with the vast remainder still coming from the retail market.

Although the company’s purpose-built rental properties will still be a minority stake in the company’s portfolio, Sonshine still sees it as a big departure for the company.

“The truth is we’re really changing the mix,” he said.

“It’s a five- to 10-year process to really get things going. Sometimes I feel like a juggler. I’m trying to turn this big ship and move forward in the reinvention of things. It’s a big juggle.”


Source link

قالب وردپرس


Ottawa education workers still teaching special-ed students at schools want safety checks





Some Ottawa educators say they are concerned about the safety of classrooms that remain open in schools for special-education students.

Ontario elementary and secondary students have been sent home to study virtually because of the dangers posed by rising rates of COVID-19. However, special-education classes are still operating at many bricks-and-mortar schools.

The special-education classes include students with physical and developmental disabilities, autism and behaviour problems. Some don’t wear masks and require close physical care.

Two unions representing teachers and educational assistants at the Ottawa-Carleton District School Board have sent letters to Ottawa Public Health expressing their concerns.

It’s urgent that public health officials inspect classrooms to assess the safety of the special-ed classes, said a letter from the Ottawa branch of the Ontario Secondary School Teachers’ Federation, which also represents the educational assistants who work with special-needs children.

“In the absence of reasons based on medical evidence to keep specialized systems classes open, we are unsure as to the safety of staff and students in these programs,” said the letter signed by president Stephanie Kirkey and other union executives.

The letter said staff agreed that students in specialized classes had difficulty with remote education and benefited most from in-person instruction.

“Our members care deeply about the students they work with and are not only concerned about their own health and safety, but also about that of their students, as they are often unable to abide by COVID safety protocols that include masking, physical distancing and hand hygiene, thus making it more likely that they could transmit the virus to one another,” the letter said.

The Ottawa-Carleton District School Board has 1,286 elementary and secondary students in special-education classes attending in person at 87 schools, said spokesperson Darcy Knoll.

While final numbers were not available, Knoll said the board believed a large number of the special-education students were back in class on Friday at schools.

In-person classes for other elementary and secondary students are scheduled to resume Jan. 25.

The school boards provide PPE for educators in special-education classes as required, including surgical masks, face shields, gloves and gowns.

Several educators interviewed said they don’t understand why it has been deemed unsafe for students in mainstream classes to attend class, but not special-ed students.

Continue Reading


Ottawa sets record of 210 new COVID-19 cases following lag in data reporting





Ottawa has now broken its daily record for new COVID-19 cases twice in 2021, with 210 new cases added on Friday amid a lag in data reports from earlier in the week.

The nation’s capital has now seen 10,960 cases of the novel coronavirus.

Ottawa Public Health’s COVID-19 dashboard reports 977 active cases of the virus in Ottawa, a jump of more than 100 over Thursday’s figures.

One additional person has died in relation to COVID-19 in Ottawa, raising the city’s death toll in the pandemic to 395.

The record-setting case count comes a day after Ottawa reported a relatively low increase of 68 cases. Ontario’s COVID-19 system had meanwhile reported 164 new cases on Thursday.

OPH said Thursday that due to a large number of case reports coming in late Wednesday, the local system did not account for a large portion of cases. The health unit said it expects the discrepancy to be filled in the subsequent days.

Taken together, Thursday and Friday’s reports add 278 cases to Ottawa’s total, a daily average of 139 cases.

The new single-day record surpasses a benchmark set this past Sunday, when the city recorded 184 new cases.

Ontario also reported a new record of 4,249 cases on Friday, with roughly 450 of those cases added due to a lag in reporting in Toronto.

The number of people hospitalized with COVID-19 also continues to climb in Ottawa. OPH’s dashboard shows there are currently 24 people in hospital with COVID-19, seven of whom are in the intensive care unit.

Three new coronavirus outbreaks were added to OPH’s dashboard on Friday. One outbreak affects a local shelter where one resident has tested positive for the virus, while the other two are traced to workplaces and private settings in the community.

Continue Reading


Ottawa family dealing with mould issue in apartment grateful for support





OTTAWA — An Ottawa family, who has been dealing with mould in their south Ottawa apartment, is grateful for the support they have received from the community.

“I would like to say big very mighty, big thank you to everyone,” says Nofisat Adeniyi.

Adeniyi lives with her three sons in a South Keys apartment. Her son Desmond turned to social media on Sunday to seek help for the family, saying they’ve been dealing with mould in their unit and it has taken too long to fix.

“I see my mom go through a struggle everyday; with three kids, it’s not easy,” says 16-year-old Desmond Adeniyi.

He setup a GoFundMe page to help the family raise money to move out. After gaining online attention and the story, which originally aired CTV News Ottawa on Tuesday, they have been able to raise over $30,000.

“Yes! I was surprised, a big surprise!” says Nofisat Adeniyi, “We are free from the mess that we’ve been going through.”

The family was so touched, they decided to pay it forward and donated $5,000 to another family in need, “A lady my son told me about,” says Nofisat Adeniyi.

The recipient wants to remain anonymous, but when she found out from Adeniyi, “She was crying, she has three kids; I remember when I was, I can feel what she’s feeling – because I was once in those shoes.”

CTV News Ottawa did reach out to the property management company for an update on the mould. In a statement on Wednesday, a spokesperson for COGIR Realty wrote:

“We respect the privacy of our residents and are unable to disclose any specific information regarding any of our residents. We can, however, let you know that we are working with the residents and are making every effort to resolve this matter as soon as possible,” said Cogir Real Estate

The giving did not stop at just cash donations. “When I saw the segment, the thing that struck me the most was how easily the situation can be resolved,” says mould removal expert Charlie Leduc with Mold Busters in Ottawa.

Leduc is not involved in the case, but appeared in the original story, and after seeing the mould on TV wanted to help.

“This isn’t something that we typically do, but given the circumstance and given the fact that this has gone on way too long, our company is willing to go in and do this work for free,” said Leduc.

The Adeniyi family may now have some options, and are grateful to the community for the support.

“Yes, It’s great news — you can see me smiling,” says Nofisat.

Continue Reading