The real estate market in Canada has been red hot in 2021 and homes are becoming increasingly expensive for prospective buyers.
While the data from November is expected in the coming days, the Canadian Real Estate Association reported last month that the average residential home price rose to $716,585 in October, up 18.2 per cent from October 2020. Excluding Vancouver, Toronto and their surrounding areas, the national housing average price drops more than $155,000.
Christopher Alexander, senior vice president of RE/MAX Canada, said 2021 has been busy in the real estate world, but expects something closer to normal in the coming year.
“I really think 2022 is going to be a good year,” he told CTVNews.ca in a recent phone interview. “I think people should not expect the crazy price appreciation that we saw in 2021 to continue. It’s just not going to happen.”
Alexander cited slowly rising interest rates as a reason to expect a slowing housing market, but added that lack of supply may still drive prices into 2022.
But what is actually available for the average price point?
For Alexander, there are plenty of options out there for a nice home at an average price, depending on where you look.
“There are still pockets of Canada that are much more affordable than the average, like Saskatchewan, Newfoundland, Nova Scotia (and) New Brunswick,” he said.
CTVNews.ca complied a series of active MLS listings in major cities across the country for a look at what might be attainable for the average price in Canada and the results range from condo units, to townhomes, to entire island properties.
Details: 3 bed, 3.5 bath
In nearby Langford, B.C., a three-bedroom townhome is available for a little above average, but includes a custom kitchen and backs onto a wooded area with a pond.
Details: 2 bed, 1 bath
In Vancouver’s River district, this two-bedroom condominium comes with a “contemporary designed kitchen” and is close to several parks and shopping areas
Details: 6 bed, 4 bath
Described as a “luxury modern house” in Edmonton’s Pleasant View neighbourhood, this home comes with a fully furnished basement.
Details: 4 bed, 3.5 bath
This home is described as the “very best” in the area and includes a deck in the backyard. It is close to Calgary’s Bowness Park.
Alexander believes that perspective homebuyers should be looking at Calgary as a true destination.
“I think (in) Calgary, you’ll get the most value out of any of the cities,” Alexander said. “Calgary’s got all kinds of great lifestyle amenities close to it, like the mountains and hiking and skiing and all that, but the challenge with Alberta is their economy is so one dimensional.”
“I think Calgary has got great long-term potential.”
Details: 3 bed, 2.5 bath
This custom-built home from 2014 comes with a double garage off the back of the home, wine fridge and a “built-in entertainment wall” with a gas fireplace.
Details: 2 bed, 1.5 bath
This two-bedroom condo located outside Toronto’s downtown core comes with several building features, including and a gym, pool, party room and yoga studio.
When it comes to cities such as Toronto and Vancouver, Alexander said detached homes for around the national average are out there, provided the buyer is willing to make some compromises.
“If you’re willing to sacrifice some things, you can find properties for much less,” he said.
“For much less than $700,000, you can get something pretty decent. Uou could probably find something big. It might not be in the best area, but it’s all about what your needs and wants are.”
Details: 1 bed, 1.5 bath
This home in Ottawa’s Vanier neighbourhood features a detached garage and can be used for a low-rise apartment, according to the listing.
Details: 4 bed, 2 bath
This home on the southern part of the Island of Montreal comes with a sizable backyard, an attached carport, and is close to public transportation options.
Details: 3 bed, 1 bath
While it is more than the national average, this cottage property comes with the entirety of Gezira Island on Lake MicMac in Dartmouth, complete with hiking trails and a docking system.
Alexander specifically highlighted Halifax as place where homebuyers can potentially find a deal and settle down in a desirable city.
“It’s a great city,” he said. “It offers a tremendous amount of amenities. You’ve got the ocean. You’ve got good schools and parks and hospitals, and the quality of life is fantastic.”
“If I was looking to buy something and I wanted an urban centre that isn’t expensive like Toronto or Vancouver, I would be looking at Halifax.”
Details: 4 bed, 3 bath
This house in the east end of St. John’s, N.L.features a sunroom, sauna and has a fully developed basement with a games room.
Hundreds of thousands of Canadians are travelling abroad despite Omicron – CBC News
Despite growing concerns across the globe last fall over the new COVID-19 variant, Omicron, Sandy Long and her husband departed on Nov. 28 for a 10-day vacation in Mexico.
Long said they felt comfortable travelling, because they planned to take strict safety precautions. Plus, the couple hadn’t gone abroad for two years due to the pandemic and were yearning to get away.
“Life is short,” said Long, 58, of Richmond, B.C. “We needed to feel some warmth [and] we really missed Mexico.”
It appears many Canadians have a similar attitude toward travel these days despite Omicron’s fast and furious spread, which prompted Canada to repost its advisory against non-essential international travel last month.
Statistics Canada tallied 742,417 Canadian air-passenger arrivals returning home from abroad in December.
When adjusted to account for recent changes in tracking air travel, that total is almost six times the number of arrivals for the same month in 2020, and more than half the total for pre-pandemic December 2019.
The increase in international travel is likely to continue: there were 216,752 Canadian air-passenger arrivals to Canada during the week of Jan. 3 to Jan. 9, according to the latest data posted by the Canada Border Services Agency.
Travel agency owner Lesley Keyter said that, since October, the number of clients booking trips has jumped by between 30 and 40 per cent compared to the same time last year.
She said popular destinations for her clients, most of whom are aged 50 or older, include Europe, Mexico and Costa Rica. When Omicron cases started to surge in December, Keyter said some clients cancelled their trip, but most kept their travel plans.
“People are saying, “Listen, we only have a limited time on this planet.… We’ve put off travel for two years now, I don’t want to put it off anymore,” said Keyter, owner of The Travel Lady Agency in Calgary.
She said travellers also feel confident with the added protection of their COVID-19 vaccine and booster shot. Because Omicron is so transmissible and more able to evade vaccines, even vaccinated people may get infected, however, they’re less likely to wind up in the hospital.
Risk of testing positive abroad
But even if infected travellers only experience mild symptoms, they’ll still face hurdles returning home.
To enter Canada, air passengers must show proof of a negative COVID-19 test taken within 72 hours of departure. If a traveller tests positive, they must wait at least 11 days before boarding a flight home.
Brennan Watson, 26, of Milverton, Ont., tested positive on Dec. 28 while travelling in Ireland.
He was set to fly home the following day, but instead had to find a place to self-isolate in Belfast. Due to Canada’s rules at the time — which have now changed — Watson had to wait 15 days before he could fly home.
“It was very stressful in the beginning,” he said. “It was a bit of a panic just to think that I’m stuck here.”
Brennan said the delay cost him: he missed 11 days of work as an electrician and spent $2,000 in added expenses, including another plane ticket home.
“There’s nothing you can really do about it,” he said. “It’s just something I didn’t even think would happen.”
WATCH | Canada once again advises against travel abroad:
Travel insurance broker Martin Firestone said travellers can avoid such unexpected costs by purchasing trip-interruption insurance. He said most of his clients now opt for the coverage that will reimburse travellers for some or all of their costs if they test positive and must extend their trip.
“Trip interruption — which used to be a very rarely [purchased product] — is now being added to all the emergency medical plans, because clients worry terribly about testing positive,” said Firestone with Travel Secure.
“That’s the new world we live in right now with the pandemic.”
Another hurdle travellers may face is unexpected flight cancellations.
This month, Air Canada Vacations announced it will suspend some flights to sun destinations between Jan. 24 and April 30. After cutting 15 per cent of its January flights, WestJet announced on Tuesday it will cancel 20 per cent of its February flights.
Long said she and her husband enjoyed their trip to Mexico so much, they had planned to return again in the upcoming weeks. However, the couple recently nixed their plans due to concerns over flight cancellations.
“It’s the uncertainty right now,” said Long. “I don’t want to get down there and then be stranded.”
However, she’s still optimistic about a trip the couple has booked in May to Spain.
Despite testing positive while travelling, Brennan hopes to return to Ireland this summer — even if the pandemic hasn’t waned by then.
“I spent a year and a half of my life not seeing family, not seeing friends,” he said. “I’m not going to stop living my life.”
Immigration: Canada border tragedy a sign of what's ahead – CTV News
PEMBINA, N.D. —
The discovery of four people who perished in the cold trying to cross the Canada-U.S. border could put a new twist on the immigration debate in the United States.
The group, which included an infant and a teen, were found Wednesday near Emerson, Man., just metres from the Canadian side.
U.S. officials allege they were part of a larger group of Indian migrants trying to cross into the U.S. from Canada.
Border expert Kathryn Bryk Friedman, a University at Buffalo law professor, calls it a troubling sign that the country’s immigration challenges are getting worse.
Friedman says the discovery is likely a “warning shot” that more people are willing to put their lives on the line to enter the U.S., even on foot in the dead of winter.
Florida resident Steve Shand is to appear in court Monday in Minneapolis to face human smuggling charges.
“I do think it’s a warning shot,” said Friedman, who remarked about the enduring appeal life in the U.S. seems to hold for people all around the world.
Indeed, the crush of South American migrants at the U.S.-Mexico border has become a defining characteristic of American politics in recent years, most notably during the tenure of former president Donald Trump.
Nor is Canada a stranger to the problem: thousands of asylum seekers crossed the border in Quebec each year while Trump was in office, though the numbers have dropped precipitously since then.
But an organized effort to sneak groups of people into the U.S. from Canada is a new one on Friedman.
“It just demonstrates the allure still — maybe the enduring allure — of trying to get to the United States. It’s really kind of fascinating,” she said.
But a single incident isn’t likely to prompt either country to seriously rethink the way they manage and defend their shared frontier, she added.
“This sounds terrible, but I think it’s going to take more than four people dying at the border to really galvanize action on the part of Canada and the United States.”
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 22, 2022.
Omicron's potential peak has experts cautiously optimistic – CTV News
Canada’s top doctor has said the latest wave of COVID-19 driven by the Omicron variant may have reached its peak.
But while the modelling appears encouraging, experts say the news should be interpreted with cautious optimism.
Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Theresa Tam told reporters on Friday that there are “early indications that infections may have peaked at the national level” based on daily case counts, test positivity, the reproduction number and wastewater data.
“I hope we’re at or nearing the peak, but the problem that I have is where we’ve got some uncertainty in the counting now since we don’t do as much PCR testing as we once did,” Dr. Ronald St. John, former director-general of the Public Health Agency of Canada’s Centre for Emergency Preparedness and Response, told CTV News Channel on Saturday.
Due to the shortages in PCR testing capacity, many people who develop COVID-19, particularly if they’re not in a high-risk group and have mild or no symptoms, have been unable to get PCR tests.
“We can’t count people who are asymptomatic, so we have to look at other datasets (like) wastewater concentration, things like that, to try to get an understanding of where we are.” St. John said.
Dr. Jason Kindrachuk, an infectious disease expert at the University of Manitoba, says the news shows “some optimism that things will slowly get back to normal, what they were like prior to Omicron.”
However, Tam said that hospitalizations and ICU admissions are still climbing across Canada and health systems remain under “intense strain.” Kindrachuk says it’s unclear how quickly we might start seeing hospitalizations and ICU admissions start to decrease.
“I think we’ve learned over and over again from the pandemic is that you know, cases rise and then hospitalizations lag behind … and that trend also stays in place when cases start to recede,” he told CTVNews.ca over the phone on Saturday.
“You may be able to slow down that hospitalization rate over time, but you are still going to have pressure on a health-care system that that has been pushed to its limits.”
Dr. Christine Palmay, a Toronto-based family physician, says the hospitalization and ICU data also leave out a lot of patients dealing with debilitating symptoms. She and her colleagues have seen numerous patients who have tested positive for COVID-19 and are struggling with the virus at home.
“They’re not captured by ICU stats. They’re not necessarily accessing ER, but they’re not functioning,” she said.
PROVINCES BEGIN EASING RESTRICTIONS
Several provinces have also reported that Omicron may be peaking or close to peaking. In Ontario, Health Minister Christine Elliott said cases are expected to peak this month, followed by a peak in hospitalizations and ICU admissions. Quebec also reported that hospitalizations declined for the third straight day on Saturday.
Wastewater data in B.C. and Alberta have also shown signs that the virus may have peaked. However, health officials in Manitoba and Saskatchewan say it’s too early to tell.
When COVID-19 cases began to reach unprecedented highs throughout Canada last month, provinces and territories imposed numerous health measures affecting restaurants, movie theatres, gyms, in-person schooling and more. Now, some provincial and territorial governments have plans to life some of these restrictions.
Kindrachuk says these restrictions, on top of the rollout of booster shots, appear to have helped plateau cases. However, as these restrictions start to ease, he notes that cases have the potential to rise again.
“When you start to remove those safety breaks, you have the potential that things could start to build back in the opposite direction. So, we have to do it very methodically and certainly with a lot of oversight,” he said.
St. John says he’s also worried about health measures being lifted too quickly.
“We have to wait and stick to our public health measures as long as possible until we can be absolutely sure that we’re coming out of the woods, and I’m not sure that we are yet,” he said.
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