Ramsey Sayah isn’t the camping type.
“I’m usually the kind of guy who books a flight and goes to vacation down south or to the U.S. or Europe,” said the 46-year-old owner of Texture Hair Salon in Ottawa. “I like hotels. I like fine dining.”
But this weekend, Sayah will pick up a 32-foot Sunseeker recreational vehicle (RV) he’s rented and head to the Laurentians in Quebec to fish, cycle and “throw a ball around” with three friends.
His choice of an RV getaway is inspired not just by necessity because of the current limitations on international travel. Sayah said the coronavirus pandemic has also reconnected him to his childhood love of nature and “less complicated” pleasures.
“It opened my eyes to where I wanted to go back to enjoying the simple things, looking at the lake, watching a fire, having a barbecue, drinking a beer,” he said.
Sayah is one of a growing number of Canadians who have decided that the best option for a holiday this summer is to explore Canada with an RV.
RVing a physically distanced way to travel
Newcomers to RVing are eager to holiday safely and are less than enthusiastic about staying in hotels or motels.
It’s like having your own isolation unit.– John Krohnert of Platinum RV
“It’s like having your own isolation unit,” said John Krohnert of Platinum RV, a dealership in Erin, Ont. “Our rental division is going crazy. It’s very, very busy.”
Krohnert sells RVs and also rents them from $450 to $1,000 a week, depending on the size and features of the vehicle.
“I think what we’re seeing is people are starting to say, ‘We’ve got so many beautiful places in Canada. We don’t need to cross the border or rent hotels,'” he said.
Fear of flying
Ottawa-based RVezy is an Airbnb type of business that allows travellers to rent recreational vehicles from people who are looking to make some money by lending out their RVs.
Founded by former Ottawa policeman Mike McNaught, along with partner Will Thompson in 2016, RVezy recently commissioned a survey of 2,000 Canadians to learn about their attitudes toward travel this summer. It found that 81 per cent of participants believe flying to be “somewhat” or “too” risky.
RVs are perfectly suited for vacation travel this summer. In an RV, you are in full control of your environment. You have full access to cooking facilities, washrooms, showers and air conditioning.”– Mike McNaught, co-founder of RVezy
“RVs are perfectly suited for vacation travel this summer,” McNaught said. “In an RV, you are in full control of your environment. You have full access to cooking facilities, washrooms, showers and air conditioning.”
He said the company has provided all RV owners with disinfecting recommendations from Health Canada and that both the owner and renter need to sign off on a cleanliness checklist.
As well, one in three of the survey’s participants said they “never before thought RVing was right for them but are now open to it.” The survey labels them as “RV curious.”
McNaught said demand for the 7,000 vehicles on RVezy’s website is close to exceeding what the company saw in mid-summer of 2019 when 3,000 of its vehicles were rented. “Normally, we don’t see the demand this strong at this time of year.”
The platform takes a 15 per cent cut of what the RV owner charges and also charges the renter an additional 10 per cent of the overall rental cost. But McNaught said it’s a way to support the local economy.
“Millions of Canadian have been impacted by this pandemic,” he said. “When you’re renting an RV from us, you’re renting from someone local in the neighbourhood, and the money goes right back to people who may have lost their jobs.”
WATCH | Are you safer from COVID-19 indoors or outdoors?
International visitors not renting RVs
According to the Recreational Vehicle Dealers Association of Canada, the RV industry generated an estimated 66,000 jobs and $4.7 billion in 2017 — the most recent figures available.
But it’s not sunshine and rainbows for everyone in the business.
Calgary-based CanaDream rents RVs primarily to international travellers, with seven locations across Canada. Company vice-president of sales and marketing Kathryn Munro is based in Glasgow.
“We were heading for an absolute whopper of a year,” Munro said. “We definitely would have been looking at 13,000 rentals for the year ahead. And we’re now looking at perhaps 20 per cent of that this year.”
CanaDream had been adding to its fleet year by year, but its orders for 2020 are stuck with U.S. manufacturers because of the border closure. Even so, given the lack of demand from its usual clientele, the inventory on hand is more than sufficient, she said.
In fact, the company intends to sell some of its RVs; typically, about a third of the fleet is sold every two years in order to rent only relatively new vehicles.
“We will be offering a lot more RVs for sale,” Munro said. “Our fleet will be much smaller this coming year.”
Domestic Canadian travellers make up just 10 per cent of CanaDream’s business, but it appears that niche may grow this year.
“We’re getting so many new guests. Our call centre operators are spending a lot of time explaining how RVing works,” Munro said. “I’ve had to write a document for them to use so that they can explain efficiently about the appeal.”
I think this is a great way to see Canada without having to hop on a plane.– Ramsey Sayah, newcomer to RVing
Sayah said he’s looking forward to cooking some great meals in the large, high-end RV that he’s rented.
“We’re bringing good food, not just whatever,” he said, “because we have this beautiful kitchen in there.”
He also said that despite his previous penchant for being served in fancy restaurants, he’s actually looking forward to learning a new way to make a fire or tie a rope.
“I don’t have a cottage, and I think this is a great way to see Canada without having to hop on a plane.”
21 more cases of COVID-19 reported in B.C. – CTV News VI
Another 21 cases of COVID-19 have been confirmed in British Columbia, health officials announced Wednesday.
The total includes 19 new positive tests for the coronavirus and two additional epidemiologically linked cases, bringing the total number of confirmed cases in B.C. since the pandemic began to 3,149.
There have been no additional deaths from the virus over the last 24 hours, leaving the provincial death toll at 189.
There have now been 2,753 recoveries from the virus in B.C., leaving the province with 207 active cases. Of those, 14 people are hospitalized and five are in intensive care.
Wednesday’s update from provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry and Health Minister Adrian Dix came in the form of a news release. It comes after a surge in new positive tests reported over the weekend, many of them related to private parties in the province’s Interior.
The 21 additional cases announced make Wednesday the sixth day out of the last seven in which the provincial case count grew by at least 20. Tuesday, when 13 new cases were reported, was the only day in the last week not to cross that threshold.
Dix and Henry addressed these increases in their joint statement Wednesday.
“We are concerned about the increase in new cases in recent days as COVID-19 continues to silently circulate in our communities,” the pair said. “As we spend more time with others, we need to find our balance with COVID-19. We need to minimize the number of cases, manage new cases as they emerge and modify our activities accordingly.”
The officials noted that many of B.C.’s early cases of the coronavirus were found in long-term care and assisted-living facilities, the recent growth in the provincial caseload has happened mostly in the broader community.
There continue to be three ongoing outbreaks of COVID-19 in health-care facilities, including two in seniors’ care homes and one in an acute care unit. There is also one ongoing “community outbreak,” according to Dix and Henry.
Most cases of COVID-19 in B.C. have been located in the Lower Mainland, with 1,659 in the Fraser Health region and 1,023 in the Vancouver Coastal Health Region.
Elsewhere in the province, there have been 216 cases in Interior Health, 135 in Island Health and 65 in Northern Health.
An additional 51 cases of COVID-19 reported in B.C. have been found in people who reside outside Canada, according to Wednesday’s update.
Henry and Dix will deliver their next live briefing on Thursday.
'A long climb back': Macklem stresses recovery as BoC holds – BNN
Bank of Canada Governor Tiff Macklem sent a clear message with Wednesday’s Monetary Policy Report: Economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic is the central bank’s top priority.
“The recovery has started, and we’re seeing some good numbers, but it’s going to be a long climb back,” Macklem told BNN Bloomberg in an interview Wednesday, just hours after the Bank of Canada held its benchmark interest rate at 0.25 per cent and made it clear it’s in no rush to move off that level.
“Considerable policy support is going to be required. Fiscal policy is taking a lead, but monetary policy has an important complementary role to play, and we wanted to be clear to Canadians that the Bank of Canada is going to be there through the full length of the long climb back.”
He also said that the central bank is prepared to add more stimulus, if required, a policy he says was made clear in the Bank of Canada’s central scenario issued with Wednesday’s MPR.
“The purpose of putting out a central scenario is that — even though there is considerable uncertainty around it — it is the scenario that guided us in our policy deliberation,” he said.
“As data comes in we’ll be evaluating that relative to that central scenario. If we need more monetary stimulus, we’ll do that.”
Macklem highlighted Canadians’ high level of household indebtedness as a longstanding concern for the Bank of Canada, but expressed confidence that economic recovery could prove to be a rising tide.
“The best predictor of whether somebody is going to pay their mortgage is whether they have a job,” Macklem said. “Yes, high household indebtedness is a vulnerability, but supporting the recovery and reducing that vulnerability are entirely aligned.”
“By holding interest rates low across the yield curve, that will reduce debt burdens for Canadians.”
While Macklem said the central bank “didn’t put [its] forward guidance on a calendar,” its central scenario indicates that the key interest rate will remain where it is for at least two years.
“There’s a lot of uncertainty around that scenario, but I think the message is pretty clear,” he said. “Interest rates are going to be very low for a long time.”
'Interest rates will be low for a long time': Canadian home sales jumped in June – Yahoo Canada Finance
Canada’s real estate markets continue to snap back after COVID-19 lockdowns put a damper on the typically busy spring market.
The Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA) says national home sales jumped 63 per cent month-over-month in June. Sales are up 150 per cent from April.
“While June’s housing numbers were mostly back at normal levels, we are obviously not back to normal at this point,” said Shaun Cathcart, CREA’s Senior Economist, in a release.
“I guess the bigger picture is one of cautious optimism. The market has recovered much faster than many would have thought, but what happens later this year remains a big question mark.”
The Fraser Valley led the way with a 99.7 per cent increase, followed by the Greater Toronto Area (83.8 per cent), Montreal (75.1 per cent), and Greater Vancouver (60.3 per cent).
The MLS Home Price Index (HPI) rose 0.5 per cent month-over-month and 5.4 per cent year-over-year.
“Frankly, that’s a much earlier turn than we had expected in this key measure, let alone what the housing bears anticipated,” said Douglas Porter, BMO chief economist, in a note.
“Home sales, prices and starts have effectively regained all the ground lost during the shutdown. However, fair point that some of this outsized strength is simply pent-up demand for the lost sales from the key spring season, and it remains to be seen if the momentum can be maintained.”
Emergency COVID-19 measures, like mortgage deferrals and CERB, have helped keep Canadians afloat during the pandemic. But those programs are set to wind down, so the longer term outlook could be much different.
“For those who lost their job or are already stretching their salaries to continue to pay their mortgage, the ending of programs such as CERB could significantly impact the course of their existing and future housing purchase or selling plans. In the short term, until the end of 2020, there appears to be enough pent up demand to maintain a sellers’ market in major centres,” said John Lusink, president of Right at Home Realty,
“If people are unable to get back to work or government support programs are not renewed, we could see an impact on the real estate market, albeit very unlikely to the extent we saw in 2008-2009 or the early 90’s.”
Lusink says low inventory has brought about multiple offers, which has allowed sellers to put a higher prices on their properties.
Immigration rates are also set to decline, but Royal LePage President and CEO Phil Soper, says that won’t have a large effect.
“Research into the home purchase behaviour of new Canadians leads us to believe that the pandemic-driven drop in immigration will have only a muted impact on our housing market. We found that only 15 per cent of immigrants purchased a home in their first three years in Canada. Note that by ten years of residence, newcomers have a higher rate of homeownership than those born in the country – their desire to own is strong, but it takes time to realize that dream,” said Soper.
“There will be an indirect impact on housing, as these new arrivals would have driven demand for rental accommodation. Add to this the near shutdown of short-term, Airbnb-style rentals and we could see landlords selling underutilized properties. It appears that there is a line-up of first-time buyers, encouraged by historically low interest rates, to acquire these homes.”
Anyone currently in the market, or planning to get in can expect low mortgage rates for the foreseeable future. The Bank of Canada maintained its key overnight rate today. During a press conference, governor Tiff Macklem was clear in his messaging.
“The message to Canadians is that interest rates are very low and they’re going to be there for a long time. We recognize that Canadians and Canadian businesses are facing an unusual amount of uncertainty, so we have been unusually clear about the future path for interest rates,” said Macklem.
“If you’ve got a mortgage or if you’re considering to make a major purchase or you’re a business and you’re considering to make an investment, you can be confident that interest rates will be low for a long time.”
James Laird, Co-founder of Ratehub.ca, says buyers should get a pre-approval now to know how much house they can afford and to take advantage of low rates.
“As the real estate market continues to rebound competitive pressure between mortgage lenders is causing both fixed and variable rates to inch down on a continuous basis.”
“For Canadians that are currently shopping for a home they should get a pre-approval to lock in today’s rates for up to 120 days. Anyone with a mortgage coming up for renewal or who is considering a refinance should shop around to take advantage of the historically low rates.”
<p class="canvas-atom canvas-text Mb(1.0em) Mb(0)–sm Mt(0.8em)–sm" type="text" content="Jessy Bains is a senior reporter at Yahoo Finance Canada. Follow him on Twitter @jessysbains.” data-reactid=”48″>Jessy Bains is a senior reporter at Yahoo Finance Canada. Follow him on Twitter @jessysbains.
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