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Canadian home sales, prices hit new highs for January compared to last year –



Canadians didn’t let COVID-19 or a lack of housing supply stop them from flocking to the real estate market in January as they snatched up a record number of homes and shelled out more than they had in previous years. 

Sales for the month were up 35.2 per cent compared with a year earlier — and sales for the first month of the year were up two per cent when compared to December, the Canadian Real Estate Association said Tuesday.

The actual national average price of a home sold also soared to a record $621,525 in January, up 22.8 per cent from the same month last year.

CREA said market conditions were pushed to record levels in January because people have held off putting their homes up for sale in the middle of the pandemic, leaving fewer options for people to fight over.

“The buyers and sellers that will in time define the Canadian housing story of 2021 are mostly all still waiting in the wings,” Shaun Cathcart, CREA’s senior economist, said in a statement.

Single family home prices rose 2.6 per cent month-over-month and a robust 17.4 per cent year-over-year, whereas apartment prices advanced by a smaller 0.2 per cent month-over-month and decreased 3.3 per cent year-over-year, TD Economics said in a statement after CREA released its report.

Buyers need boost in supply

However, Cathcart believes the market is unlikely to see a rush of listings until the public heath situation improves and the dreary winter weather subsides.

“The best case scenario would be if we see a lot of sellers who were gun-shy to engage in the market last year making a move this year,” he said.

(Canadian Real Estate Association)

“A big surge in supply is what so many markets really need this year to get people into the homes they want, and to keep prices from accelerating any more than they already are.”

With sales edging higher and new supply falling considerably in January, the national sales-to-new listings ratio tightened to 90.7 per cent — the highest level on record for the measure by a significant margin.

The previous monthly record was 81.5 per cent, set 19 years ago. The long-term average for the national sales-to-new listings ratio is 54.3 per cent.

Vancouver, Toronto markets still hot

CREA found the Greater Vancouver and the Greater Toronto Area, two of the country’s most active and expensive markets, were heating up very quickly in January.

The average seasonally adjusted price of a home in the GTA was $941,100 and in Vancouver, was just over $1 million.

When the association removed data from both those regions from the $621,525 national price average, it found the average price was slashed by $129,000.

But that doesn’t mean that conditions eased up outside the city centres, said Wins Lai, a Toronto real estate broker.

Cities outside Toronto also in demand

Prices in areas like Vaughan and Markham, Ont., have reached levels she is shocked by.

“Outside of the city in somewhere like Barrie, we are seeing 40 offers on something that’s $750,000, which is insane,” she said.

CREA said year-over-year price increases between 25 and 30 per cent were seen many regions in Ontario including Barrie, Niagara, Grey-Bruce Owen Sound, Huron Perth, Kawartha Lakes, London and St. Thomas, North Bay, Simcoe and Southern Georgian Bay.

According to the Canadian Real Estate Association, Montreal’s average home prices reached $434,200, up 16.6 per cent compared to last January. (Graham Hughes/The Canadian Press)

However, the largest year-over-year gains — above 30 per cent — were recorded in the Lakelands region of Ontario cottage country, Northumberland Hills, Quinte, Tillsonburg District and Woodstock-Ingersoll.

Urban sprawl and the pandemic are responsible for part of this phenomenon, Lai said.

“People want to be outside of the city, they want to have their own homes and they don’t want to be in elevators,” she said.

Other cities still attractive

While the downtown core may be less attractive because many people are working from home, young professionals and couples are still trying to snatch up homes there and bidding wars on condos are plentiful.

The CREA said January price gains were in the 10 to 15 per cent range in the GTA, Mississauga, Chilliwack, B.C., the Okanagan Valley in B.C., Winnipeg and on Vancouver Island.

Montreal’s average prices reached $434,200, up 16.6 per cent compared to last January.

They rose by as much as 10 per cent in Victoria, Greater Vancouver, Regina and Saskatoon and by about two per cent in Calgary and Edmonton.

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Ecuadorean indigenous communities sue to halt oil development



Indigenous communities from Ecuador’s Amazon on Monday sued the government to halt plans by President Guillermo Lasso to increase oil development in the country, calling the expansion efforts a “policy of death.”

Lasso, a conservative ex-banker who took office in May, issued two decrees in the first days of his administration meant to facilitate the development of oil blocks in environmentally sensitive jungle areas and attract more foreign investment for mining projects.

Leaders of Amazonian  indigenous communities are asking the Constitutional Court, the country’s highest judicial body, to nullify the decrees.

“The Ecuadorean government sees in our territory only resource interests,” said Waorani leader Nemonte Nenquimo, in remarks outside the court, surrounded by dozens of supporters.

“Our territory is our decision and we’ll never allow oil or mining companies to enter and destroy our home and kill our culture.”

Lasso has said he will seek international investment to increase oil production to 1 million barrels per day by the end of his term in 2025.

He also wants to make mining one of the country’s top sources of income.

The indigenous communities plan to present a separate suit against the decree related to mining, they said in a statement.

Expanding oil extraction will put in danger some of the world’s most biodiverse jungle, home to dozens of indigenous communities, the indigenous leaders said.

The energy ministry did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

“They seek to continue this policy of death,” said Leonidas Iza, who heads the CONAIE indigenous organization. “This isn’t a problem of the indigenous, it’s one of civilization.”

Indigenous groups have said they could hold protests against Lasso’s social and economic policies.


(Reporting by Tito Correa; Writing by Alexandra Valencia and Julia Symmes Cobb; Editing by Sandra Maler)

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Brazil’s Votorantim and Canada Pension Plan to form energy joint venture



Privately-owned Votorantim SA, one of Brazil’s biggest diversified industrial groups, has announced a plan with Canada Pension Plan to consolidate their energy assets in Brazil to create a listed integrated renewables platform, they said on Monday.

The joint venture between Votorantim Energia and CPP Investments, Canada Pension Plan ‘s global investment arm, will include another stakeholder, Companhia Energetica de Sao Paulo, Sao Paulo’s power generation company known as CESP.

CPP Investments will invest an additional 1.5 billion reais (C$340 million) to increase the venture’s capital base, the companies said.

The new company will have net revenue estimated at 5.8 billion reais based on the 2020 results, and a diversified energy matrix with an installed capacity of 3.3 gigawatts (GW), of which 2.3 GW is hydroelectric sources and 1.0 GW in wind power, they said.

The company will already be born with a pipeline of projects that combine hydro and solar sources, as well as hybrid solutions, totaling 1.9 GW, they said in a statement.

The new company will also be one of the largest energy traders in Brazil, with more than 2.6 average GW sold in 2020 and a portfolio of more than 400 customers.

“By consolidating our assets in a single company, Votorantim and CPP Investments intend to start a new cycle of growth and value generation together with CESP’s shareholders,” said Joao Schmidt, Votorantim’s chief executive.


(Reporting by Anthony Boadle; Editing by Chris Reese)

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N.S. reports 72 new COVID-19 cases over the weekend, three Halifax-area schools to close – CTV News Atlantic




Health officials in Nova Scotia are reporting 72 new cases of COVID-19 and 63 recoveries since Friday, as the number of active cases rises to 208.

The province’s COVID-19 data dashboard will not be updated on Monday due to a technical issue, said Public Health in a release.

Thirty-one new cases were reported on Oct. 16; 19 new cases on Oct. 17, and 22 new cases are being reported on Oct. 18.

  • Fifty-eight new cases were identified in the province’s Central zone.
  • Eight new cases were identified in the province’s Northern zone.
  • Five new cases were identified in the province’s Western zone.
  • One new case was identified in the province’s Eastern zone.

Health officials say there is community spread in the Central zone, primarily among people aged 20 to 40 who are unvaccinated and participating in social activities.

Public Health says it is closely monitoring all four health zones for community spread.


Three schools in the Halifax Regional Municipality will close for the rest of the week in order to contain the spread of COVID-19.

In a release sent Monday afternoon, the province announced École Mer et Monde and Joseph Howe Elementary in Halifax will both be closed from Oct. 19 to Oct. 25, to prevent further spread of the virus among the school community.

The schools and public health will share more information later in the week about reopening plans. The principals will contact staff and families about learning from home, which will begin Tuesday, Oct.  19. There are no classes for students on Friday, Oct. 22, as it is a provincial conference day.

Officials say testing would be available at both schools next weekend from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. because next Monday is a school development day.

In a release issued Sunday evening, Dr. Robert Strang, Nova Scotia’s chief medical officer of health, recommended the closure of Dartmouth South Academy.

The P-9 school, located at 111 Prince Arthur Ave., will be closed to students from Oct. 18 to Oct. 22 to prevent further spread of the virus among the school community. The pre-primary centre, which is located on a separate site from the school, will remain open.

“While our goal is to keep students learning in the classroom, I was clear that if stronger measures were needed, like closing a school, we would not hesitate to act,” said Dr. Strang. “The regional medical officer of health team has been closely monitoring this situation, and they are recommending a temporary closure to contain the spread.”

The school and public health will share more information later in the week about reopening plans, and the principal will contact staff and families about learning from home.

With the latest closures, four schools in the Halifax area have been temporarily closed in the last two weeks.

Duc d’Anville Elementary School in Halifax was closed for four days last week after 14 cases of novel coronavirus were linked to the school.

Health officials also sent exposure notices for eight schools in the province since Friday.

The latest school exposures are at Cumberland North Academy in Amherst, École Mer et Monde, Halifax West High, Joseph Howe Elementary, Beechville-Lakeside-Timberlea Elementary and St. Catherine’s Elementary in Halifax, and Portland Estates Elementary and Dartmouth South Academy in Dartmouth.

“It is important to note that an exposure associated with a school does not mean there is spread within the school or that the initial case was first exposed to the virus in the school. As always, all staff, parents and guardians are notified of exposures if a positive case (student, teacher or staff) was at the school while infectious,” said N.S. Health in a release.

A list of schools with exposures is available online


Nova Scotia Health Authority’s labs completed 3,557 tests on Oct. 15; 2,755 tests on Oct. 16; and 2,792 tests on Oct. 17.

According to the province’s online COVID-19 dashboard, there have been 7,149 cumulative COVID-19 cases in Nova Scotia. Of those, 6,843 people have recovered and 98 have died due to COVID-19.

There are currently 15 people in hospital in Nova Scotia due to COVID-19, with three in an intensive care unit.

Since Aug. 1, there have been 1,253 positive COVID-19 cases and four deaths. Of the new cases since Aug. 1, 1,041 are now considered resolved.

There are cases confirmed across the province, but most have been identified in the Central zone, which contains the Halifax Regional Municipality.

The provincial state of emergency, which was first declared on March 22, 2020, has been extended to Oct. 31, 2021.


The province’s COVID-19 online dashboard provides an update on the number of vaccines that have been administered to date.

As of Monday, 1,547,472 doses of COVID-19 vaccine have been administered. Of those, 747,632 Nova Scotians have received their second dose.

The province says it has received a total of 1,661,340 doses of COVID-19 vaccine since Dec. 15.

All Nova Scotians are encouraged to get vaccinated against COVID-19 as soon as they are eligible. COVID-19 vaccination appointments can be made online or by phone at 1-833-797-7772.


Anyone who experiences a fever or new or worsening cough, or two or more of the following new or worsening symptoms, is encouraged to take an online test or call 811 to determine if they need to be tested for COVID-19:

  • Sore throat
  • Headache
  • Shortness of breath
  • Runny nose/nasal congestion   

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