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CREW members chart successful new path with Scout Real Estate – Calgary Herald

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Commercial Real Estate Women (CREW) is an international networking organization that aims to elevate women in leadership roles in the industry.

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A Calgary chapter was founded in 2005, and five years later Lori Suba became a member. The founder and president of Scout Real Estate was recently named the winner of this year’s CREW Entrepreneurial Spirit Impact Award, which was open to candidates across the organization’s more than 11,000 members in Canada, the U.S. and the U.K.

Suba is the first Canadian to be recognized with the award, offered to an individual willing to step outside the box to create something new or different.

During her membership of the 140-strong Calgary chapter, Suba has served on the board and was its president in 2019.

Armed with a BA degree from the University of Calgary and an executive MBA with a specialty in real estate leadership from the University of Fredericton, Suba began her career with a boutique firm and then joined the downtown office leasing team at CBRE.

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With 18 years of commercial leasing experience, in 2020 — despite COVID — she launched Scout along with two associates, both keen members of CREW.

Laurae Spindler serves as its mentorship committee chair. Since the start of her real estate career in 2007, she has negotiated more than 450 lease and sale transactions. Her experience includes time as a leasing specialist with Shaw Communications and management positions specializing in industrial real estate with Dream and ONE Properties.

The third member of the team is retail specialist Eve Renaud, also a past president of CREW. While continuing to act as vice-president of Rencor Developments, Renaud brings to Scout 20 years of experience in the retail industry working for major landlords such as Cadillac Fairview, Ivanhoe Cambridge and 20 Vic Management, where she served as director of leasing for the CORE Shopping Centre.

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The primary commercial real estate sectors of office, industrial and retail are well covered by the experience of the Scout team, and Suba says by sharing and collaborating on all business negotiations they can be of great value to clients with specialized requirements, as well as those with a mix of needs, being able to make quick, local decisions.

Scout has enjoyed a successful first year in business and continues to pick up new clients in all sectors.

Their diverse backgrounds and reputation earned in the local real estate community has helped the trio work closely with other brokers.

A good example is Renaud’s relationship with Talha Niazi of Barclay Street Real Estate, who has the responsibility of leasing the ground floor retail space in the Real Estate Council of Alberta mixed-use building on the northwest corner of 11 th Avenue and 14 th Street S.W.

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Niazi has leased two of the three retail spots — to Compound Pharmacy and Papa Murphy’s Pizza. The third and largest space at 4,600 square feet has been leased to a brewer client of Renaud. Niazi and Renaud worked together to persuade the Calgary company of the benefits of locating in the new building, which will soon be surrounded by three under-construction residential towers as well as a couple more craft breweries that prefer to be located in a cluster.

Among Scout’s other retail listings are one in the upscale Britannia Plaza, the former White Spot stand-alone 6,000-square-foot building on 23 rd Street N.E., and out-of-town leases in Edgefield Place in Strathmore, Mountain Ridge Plaza in Cochrane and Deer Park Plaza in Red Deer.

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The team’s offerings also include properties in The Park at Willowglen, Mark on 10 th , Touchstone Corporate Centre and Chinook Village.

Scout’s success says a lot about the benefits of being a CREW member.

Notes:

Surprised to learn that Cassandra McAuley is leaving Tourism Calgary after seven and a half years promoting this city. A key member of the executive team as vice-president of communications and stakeholder engagement, on Monday she will join the team at MMGY NextFactor, an industry-leading consulting firm specializing in worldwide travel and tourism, as its vice-president of destination planning.

David Parker appears regularly in the Herald. Read his columns online at calgaryherald.com/business. He can be reached at 403-830-4622 or by email at info@davidparker.ca .

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Real estate secrets – CBC.ca

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Canada has among the highest real estate commission rates in the world.

Our investigation found real estate agents breaking the law by steering buyers from low-commission homes. Hidden cameras caught them in the act.

Watch our full investigation anytime on CBC Gem.

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Real estate gender splits outdo TSX benchmark – REMI Network – Real Estate Management Industry Network

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Women are somewhat more conspicuous in commercial real estate’s executive suites and boardrooms than is the average for Canadian companies that disclose such information to regulators and unit/shareholders. A newly released report on diversity disclosure practices in public companies, from Osler, Hoskin and Harcourt LLP, draws findings from 629 companies that revealed the gender breakdowns of their boards and 575 companies that enumerated women executive officers as of July 31, 2021. Results show that women are gaining presence in these top echelons, but are still very much the minority.

“The Canadian public company boards continue to add more women directors at a steady pace. The rate at which women are being appointed this year reached its highest level yet, with women filling 39.1 per cent of the newly created or vacated board seats, a significant increase compared to a rate of 35 per cent last year,” observe the report’s authors, Andrew MacDougall, John Valley and Jennifer Jeffrey. “Women are making very little progress at the executive officer level. The proportion of women executive officers increased slightly to 18.2 per cent from 17 per cent last year, but is largely unchanged since 2015 (when it was 15 per cent), and only 10.7 per cent of TSX-listed companies have targets for women executive officers (largely unchanged from last year).”

This is the seventh year that TSX-listed companies have provided numbers aligned with the comply or explain rule. It requires venture issuers to report whether they have written policies, procedures and targets for bringing women onto boards and into executive officer roles or to explain why they do not.

Acute absence of visible minorities, Indigenous peoples and people with disabilities

Additionally, beginning in 2020, amendments to the Canada Business Corporation Act (CBCA) expanded the field of designated disclosers to cover all distributing corporations — i.e. to include those that trade on other exchanges inside or outside of Canada — with requirements for separate reports related to visible minorities, Indigenous peoples and people with disabilities. For the first seven months of this year, 318 companies offered data that indicates the modest to miniscule presence of these three additional groups within their top leadership.

Visible minorities filled 6.8 per cent of disclosed board positions, while Indigenous peoples and people with disabilities each accounted for 0.5 per cent. Visible minorities hold executive officer positions at 71 companies, while just eight companies count people with disabilities in their executive offices and a mere two companies have Indigenous executive officers.

The analysis reveals greater evidence of stated intent. More than one third of disclosing companies report that they have written policies committed to expanding the diversity of boards, while “a substantial portion” confirms that diversity is one of the decision-making factors for executive officer appointments. However, for now, companies are more likely to have stated policies pertaining only to women.

“In order to make progress on diversity beyond gender, public company boards will need to change their approach to the identification and appointment of directors from these designated groups,” MacDougall, Valley and Jeffrey conclude. “While we acknowledge that issuers must generally rely on executive officers to self-identify as being a member of any of the prescribed designated groups, the low numbers reflected above indicate that there is nonetheless significant room for improvement.”

Real estate makes relatively more space for women

Real estate ranks fourth among 13 identified sectors for the percentage of women holding executive officer positions. That’s pegged at an average of 2.06 women per disclosing real estate company or 24 per cent of executive officer positions versus an average of 1.69 women per company or 18.2 per cent of executive officer positions across all disclosing companies.

The report cautions that differing approaches to leadership structure and the size of executive ranks can skew sector-to-sector comparisons. “This explains why in the real estate industry, for example, the average number of executive officers is close to the overall average, but women represent a relatively high percentage of the executive officers,” it notes.

Accordingly, 3.19 female executive officers per company translates to 23 per cent of such roles in the financial services industry, while 1.72 female executive officers per company translates to 11 per cent of such positions in the energy services sector.

Real estate ranks fifth, tied with consumer products and services, for the 25 per cent female component of disclosing companies’ boards of directors. That breaks down to an average of 1.91 women directors per board. Meanwhile, women fill 22.1 per cent of board positions across all disclosing companies, equating to an average of 1.83 women per board.

Real estate companies are also highlighted in the report’s best practices section. Artis Real Estate Investment Trust, Dream Impact Trust and Dream Unlimited Corp. are among 10 companies cited for boards of directors with at least 50 per cent female representation.

Canadian Apartment Properties Real Estate Investment Trust (CAP REIT), Killam Apartment REIT, Timbercreek Financial Corp., MCAN Mortgage Corporation., Chartwell Retirement Residences, Melcor Developments Ltd., Melcor Real Estate Investment Trust and Dream Impact Trust are among 22 companies flagged for executive officer contingents of at least 50 per cent women.

Plodders don’t always explain lack of action

The percentage of public companies that lack diversity policies and practices continues to shrink, but remains a stubborn to sizeable fraction. As of mid-year 2021, about 67 per cent of disclosing companies have written policies specifically tied to identifying and nominating women board candidates and about 32 per cent have set targets for female board membership. Nearly 83 per cent of companies confirm they take female representation into account when identifying and appointing executive officers, but fewer than 11 per cent have set targets.

Despite the disclosure rule’s moniker, MacDougall, Valley and Jeffrey note that a significant minority of companies do not explain their inaction. For example, more than 40 of the 209 companies disclosing that they do not do not have written policies pertaining to the diversity of their boards were silent on the reasons.

Meanwhile, the majority that do not set targets for women on boards or in executive positions, most commonly cite misgivings about how targets could affect selection processes perceived to be based on merit. “Other reasons included the concerns that targets are ineffective and/or arbitrary or are inappropriate when considering the small number of directors on the board,” the report summarizes.

Generally, larger companies in the TSX-60 index appear to more proactively pursuing gender balance. For example, 98 per cent report at least two women on their boards and 31.5 per cent have at least five women directors. The number of women executive officers — an average of 3.3 per company, filling 21.6 per cent of disclosed executive officer positions — surpasses the overall average, while 20 per cent of TSX-60 companies have set targets for increasing women’s representation.

As with other environmental, social and governance (ESG) initiatives, MacDougall, Valley and Jeffrey hypothesize that institutional investors are helping to push the agenda forward.

“Only two companies in the S&P/TSX Composite Index that reported the number of women on their boards had all-male boards, perhaps reflecting a response to ISS’ (Institutional Shareholders Services) decision that, starting in 2022, it would recommend withhold votes on the chair of the nominating committee of such companies if women make up less than 30 per cent of the board and the board has not adopted a 30 per cent target,” they state.

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Greening federal gov't building portfolio offers CRE 'opportunity' – Real Estate News EXchange

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IMAGE: A new eight-storey office building to be built at Ottawa's Zibi development will have the federal government as its dominant tenant. (Courtesy Dream)

An eight-storey office building being constructed at Ottawa/Gatineau’s highly sustainable Zibi development will have the federal government as its dominant tenant. (Courtesy Dream)

The ongoing pandemic, a quest to green its real estate footprint and a portfolio of buildings nearing the end of their useful lifespans will lead to a major transformation of the federal government’s real estate footprint during the next couple of decades.

That was the message from Stéphan Dery, the assistant deputy minister, real property services, for Public Services and Procurement Canada during his annual update on the government’s real estate plans at the virtual Ottawa Real Estate Forum this week.

While many of these changes had already started well before the pandemic, Dery said the effects of COVID-19 have accelerated some of the transformations, and the government’s owned-building portfolio isn’t getting any younger. Decisions on its future are becoming more pressing.

The feds do own a significant portion of the 75 million square feet of space they occupy. Of that portfolio, about 38 million square feet is in Ottawa, Gatineau and the National Capital Region (NCR), and 18 million square feet is leased from private owners.

Dery and PSPC work with 102 departments and agencies which employ about 240,000 people, just over half of them in the NCR.

Any shift in strategy will have wide-reaching implications for commercial real estate owners and operators, from those now leasing space to the feds, to companies wanting to sign government agencies as future tenants, and others hoping to buy aging assets for redevelopments.

“I think what you will see in the next few years is the Government of Canada disposing of large, old high-GHG-emission assets and replacing those assets by either new space that is leased, that is carbon neutral, or old space that is modernized and carbon neutral,” Dery told the CRE executives attending the online interview conducted by Nathan Smith, senior vice-president at the Cushman & Wakefield Ottawa office.

L’Esplanade Laurier could be sold

He offered the example of L’Esplanade Laurier, a complex including two 23-storey office towers connected by a podium, with three levels of underground parking in downtown Ottawa.

“I can see L’Esplanade Laurier in the next four, five or six years being on the market for the private sector either to redevelop it into apartments/condominiums, or redevelop it for office space, a hotel, whatever the private sector and the city will need at the time,” Dery said.

“These large assets that are at the end of their useful lives, we are going to be looking to dispose of them.”

The message was clear for firms looking to do business with the government, which has committed to reducing its greenhouse gas emissions by a minimum of 40 per cent by 2030. Real estate will be a major contributor.

“A lot of our inventory is old . . . it’s significant GHG emissions. So we are really looking for the next inventory, where we are going, to make these buildings, either leased or old, carbon neutral. It’s quite important to us,” Dery said.

“In 2030, 75 per cent of our lease(s) will have to be carbon neutral.”

As for how much space the government will occupy, Dery said current projections are to continue down the path to cut 30 per cent of its footprint.

Feds remain committed to smaller footprint

“Our portfolio plan says that over the next 25 years, we are thinking about reducing our footprint by 30 per cent or more depending on the outcome of COVID. It might be accelerated, but it’s not something that is going to be done overnight.”

Smith noted, however, if the government does shed aging real estate in favour of leasing newer, more environmentally friendly space, that could actually offer an opportunity for the CRE sector.

“When we talk about a 30 per cent reduction in your space over a 25-year horizon, people in the room would start to get nervous. Is public works going to significantly downsize their lease portfolio?” Smith asked.

“I would say it’s probably an opportunity for growth in your lease portfolio as you exit some of these Crown-owned assets.”

Dery left all options open, but reinforced his earlier comments about greening the portfolio. He wanted the message to be “quite clear” – this is where the opportunity will be.

“I know that really today, none of our lease would meet that (GHG) criteria in Gatineau, Ottawa and (the NCR). So we have an opportunity here.

“If you are a landlord, an owner, an investor, and you want to keep leasing space to the Government of Canada, just think about that. Seventy-five per cent of new leases or renewals in 2030 will have to be carbon neutral.”

The process has already started, with the disposal of several aging federal buildings in the NCR. In 2019, it was announced the feds will lease 158,000 square feet at a new eight-storey office building being constructed at the carbon-neutral Zibi development straddling Ottawa and Gatineau.

The government is also looking to develop a 1.6-million-square-foot office campus on land it owns at 599 Tremblay Rd. in East Ottawa, working with a developer on a land-lease basis.

Return to office and potential vacancy

Dery touched on a number of other points during the wide-ranging, half-hour presentation.

On current lease renewals, he said the government is looking at shorter time frames for properties it renews, but so far it has not made significant space reductions.

“We know that space may be used differently, but we’ll need space. So over the last 18 months, the COVID period, we have approximately renewed 100 leases, totalling 3.2 million square feet in the National Capital Region,” Dery said.

“If it’s going to reduce, it’s going to reduce over time. It’s not something that you turn on a dime.”

On return-to-office, he said government data shows pre-pandemic most public service offices had in-person occupancy of about 60 per cent capacity on a daily basis due to a combination of many factors – hybrid work schedules, staggered working times or shift work, travel, time off, illness, etc.

Current in-person staffing remains well below that level and he said he foresees permanent on-person staffing levels dropping by another 10 per cent or so.

“I could definitely see an increase in that with the work from home, or hybrid model equal to 10 per cent . . . easily 10 per cent.”

Smith put that into perspective, noting vacancy in Ottawa had declined to the six per cent range pre-COVID and is sitting around 10 per cent now with some reabsorption occurring.

“On a market basis, is that three or four per cent? Somewhere in that range, and that is really delivering two or three new buildings into the market at once and letting the market absorb that space,” Smith offered.

“I would suspect the market will be resilient and be able to absorb that vacancy that obviously is coming to us post-COVID.”

Government co-working model

Dery also envisioned the possibility of a government network of workspaces allowing remote workers to access facilities closer to where they live.

Modelled on the co-working office format, he said it could involve a number of departments sharing workspaces.

“You may have a building in a remote location but it doesn’t serve only one department . . . it serves all of the federal public service and it’s that kind of co-working space,” he explained. “We see a take-up on that and interest from multiple departments.

“I think it is going to work well with the hybrid (work schedules): you need to go to the office, there is an office not too far from your house and you reduce the GHG emissions.”

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