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Montreal bucks national real estate trend with record-setting 2018

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After a record-setting 2018 that bucked national trends, Montreal housing prices are expected to continue to rise in the coming year — at a rate higher than both Toronto’s and Vancouver’s, a new report says.

The city experienced the highest year-over-year home price appreciation rate of the three largest Canadian metropolitan areas, according to a survey released Friday by Royal Lepage.

Dominic St-Pierre, the broker’s vice-president and general manager for Quebec, predicts that the Montreal area will remain a seller’s market throughout 2019 and likely longer.

“The Montreal market is very active, due to its affordability compared to other Canadian cities and unprecedented economic conditions, including rising wages,” he said.

Montreal’s housing boom continued in the final quarter of 2018.

Prices climbed 4.1 per cent compared to the same time the previous year, to reach an aggregate price of $407,230.

The price of a two-storey home also went up by 3.5 per cent during the period, reaching $517,190.

St-Pierre said Montreal is likely to maintain its leading position in the Canadian real estate market in 2019, although the pace of growth might slow down.

“It’s modest but steady growth,” he said.

He noted that Montreal didn’t experience the same soaring price appreciation witnessed in the Greater Toronto Area and Greater Vancouver markets over the last decade.

Foreign buyers accounted for 1.5 per cent of purchases, he said, which is up from previous years but far below the percentage seen in Vancouver and Toronto before taxes on foreign buyers were introduced.

The only homes that fell in price in 2018 were those valued over $4 million. (Ryan Remiorz/Canadian Press)

Royal LePage forecasts that Montreal home prices will increase by three per cent, compared to 1.3 per cent in Toronto and 0.6 per cent in Vancouver.

The price of a home in the greater Montreal area is still about half the price of a home in the Toronto area and about one third the price of those on offer in the greater Vancouver market.

A separate report released earlier this week on Canada’s luxury market also found Montreal proved to be the exception to a slowdown seen elsewhere in the country.

Vancouver, Toronto and Calgary all saw large drops in high-end real estate sales in 2018.

But Montreal sales of homes going for over $1 million increased 20 per cent year over year, although homes selling for more than $4 million fell eight per cent.

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‘Too soon to celebrate’ Ottawa’s low case count, says Etches

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Ottawa Public Health (OPH) logged just 11 new cases of COVID-19 on Tuesday, the lowest daily total since Sept. 1.

Because of the lag between testing and reporting, the low number could simply reflect low turnout at the city’s testing sites on weekends — all month, new case counts have been lower on Tuesdays and Wednesdays. 

During a virtual news conference Tuesday, the city’s medical officer of health Dr. Vera Etches said she doesn’t read too much into a single day’s report.

“I don’t think we can make too much of 11. Actually, it could be a lot higher tomorrow — I would expect that, on average,” she said. “It’s too soon to celebrate.”

Provincewide, public health officials reported 1, 249 new cases Tuesday.

OPH also declared 62 cases resolved Tuesday, lowering the number of known active cases in the city to 462. Two more people have died, both in care homes currently experiencing outbreaks, raising the city’s COVID-19 death toll to 361. 

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Santa Claus isn’t coming to Ottawa’s major malls this year

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Santa Claus may still be coming to town this Christmas, but he won’t be dropping by any of Ottawa’s major malls, thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic.

On Friday, Cadillac Fairview said Santa won’t be making an appearance at any of its 19 malls across Canada, including Rideau Centre in downtown Ottawa. On Tuesday, Bayshore and St. Laurent shopping centres confirmed they, too, are scrapping the annual tradition.

“Due to the evolution of the situation in regards to COVID-19, we have made the difficult decision to cancel our Santa Program and Gift Wrap Program this year,” Bayshore spokesperson Sara Macdonald wrote in an email to CBC.

Macdonald said parent company Ivanhoé Cambridge cancelled all holiday activities “due to the rising number of COVID-19 cases across the country.”

Macdonald said families that had already booked an appointment to visit Santa will receive an email with more information.  

Virtual visits with Santa

Rideau Centre said based on customer research and discussions with public health officials, its North Pole is going online this year.

“Children will be able to have a private chat with Santa,” said Craig Flannagan, vice-president of marketing for Cadillac Fairview. “You’ll also be able to join a 15-minute storytime with Santa over Facebook Live.” 

At Place d’Orléans Shopping Centre, visitors are invited to take a “selfie with Santa” — actually, a life-size cutout of Santa Pierre, the man who’s been playing Santa at the east end mall for years.

“We understand that this is not ideal, but in lieu of this tradition we will be doing what we can to maintain and encourage holiday cheer,” according to a statement on the mall’s Facebook page.

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Ottawa Bylaw breaks up two large parties in Ottawa over the weekend

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OTTAWA — Ottawa Bylaw is investigating social gatherings of more than 10 people in private homes across Ottawa last weekend.

Mayor Jim Watson tells Newstalk 580 CFRA that Ottawa Bylaw broke-up two house parties over the weekend, with 20 to 25 people at each party.

“That’s the kind of stupidity that angers me, that’s where the bulk of the transmissions are taking place, if we exclude the tragedy of the long-term care homes; it’s these house parties with unrelated people,” said Watson on Newstalk 580 CFRA’s Ottawa at Work with Leslie Roberts.

“The message doesn’t seem to be getting through, particularly to some young people who think they’re invincible.”

In a statement to CTV News Ottawa, Bylaw and Regulatory Services Director Roger Chapman says, “There are still ongoing investigations from this past weekend that could result in charges.”

Chapman says recent investigations led to two charges being issued for social gatherings of more than 10 people in a private residence in contravention of the Reopening Ontario Act.

“In one case, up to 30 individuals were observed attending a house party in Ward 18 on Oct. 24,” said Chapman.

“The second charge was issued following a house party in Ward 16 on Oct. 31, where up to 16 individuals were observed to be in attendance.”

The fine is $880 for hosting an illegal gathering.

Alta Vista is Ward 18, while Ward 16 is River Ward.

Ottawa Bylaw has issued 24 charges for illegal gatherings since the start of the pandemic.

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