(Evan Mitsui/CBC – image credit) Empty offices left behind by newly minted remote workers and other upheaval caused by the pandemic have begun to show up on the rental market, and it’s presenting some prospective tenants with opportunities they couldn’t have imagined prior to COVID-19. “They’re getting the red carpet rolled out,” said Darren Fleming, an Ottawa-based commercial real estate broker. It’s almost a year into the pandemic, and Fleming and his team at Real Strategy Advisors are seeing companies that were on the fence about what to do with office space that’s been sitting empty now starting to downsize. “It’s to either get rid of about half their space or go [fully] virtual,” said Fleming, the firm’s CEO. That’s an even bigger shift than he expected just six months ago, when he estimated clients would shed about 25 per cent of their space. WATCH | Pandemic has led to slump in demand for office space, broker says: But for those clients who are looking for new space, Fleming says they have an “unparalleled amount of choice” and the potential to land incentives such as free rent for one year. “If you’re a tenant looking for space right now, there’s a whole lot of people who don’t have a lot of alternatives to rent to,” he said. Michael McNaught and his growing team at RVezy, an RV rental marketplace company, are prospective tenants seeing the market change first-hand. In March 2020, McNaught was about to sign a lease for new office space in Ottawa, but then the pandemic hit. RVezy sent all of its staff home to work remotely and put the lease-signing on hold. Since then, RVezy’s business has doubled and its workforce has nearly tripled from about 20 employees at the start of 2020 to 55 now, with plans to keep hiring. “We just happened to be one of the fortunate businesses that was well suited during this pandemic,” McNaught, the company’s co-founder, said. Michael McNaught, co-founder of RV rental listings marketplace RVezy, says his company was about to sign a lease for new office space in Ottawa last March when the pandemic hit. Now that its search has resumed, there are ‘endless’ options to choose from, he says. Now, RVezy is on the search for office space again — and it’s not just the company’s needs that have changed. “Pre-pandemic, it was a much more difficult [rental] market. We had probably four to five options that we were looking at. At this time, it’s really endless,” McNaught said. “There’s so much available in all areas of the city and even different types of spaces. We’ve seen anything from office buildings to old firehouses to even a yoga studio.” Office availability on the rise across Canada According to Altus Group, which collects data on commercial real estate transactions across the country, office availability in Ottawa increased from 8.8 per cent in the last quarter of 2019 to 10 per cent in the fourth quarter of 2020. Other cities have seen even bigger jumps over the same period. In Toronto, office availability rose from 8.7 per cent to 12.4 per cent, while in Vancouver, it increased from 5.9 per cent to 9.1 per cent. Raymond Wong, vice-president of data operations and data solutions at Altus Group, characterizes the difference in availability in Toronto from pre-pandemic to now as “night and day.” Raymond Wong, vice-president of data operations and data solutions at Altus Group, says rental prices haven’t changed substantially, but that could start to change depending on how long the office availability rate stays high. “That’s why [the city has] close to nine million square feet under construction right now in the downtown to facilitate that [pre-pandemic] pent-up demand,” Wong said. For more than five years, Toronto has had the most construction cranes in operation in North America, according to international construction cost surveyors and consultants Rider Levett Bucknall (RLB). The firm is set to release its latest crane index ranking later this month that it says will show Toronto is still at the very top. In the first quarter of this year, RLB says, 208 cranes have been in use in Toronto, with 19 involved in commercial construction. But the firm suggests that could be impacted by the working-from-home trend. “With companies reconsidering the traditional model of the office — some have already committed to permanent remote working — going forward, we may see a decreased demand for commercial space in the city,” Terry Harron, principal and resident manager of RLB’s Toronto office, said in an email to CBC News. For more than five years, Toronto has had the most construction cranes in operation in North America, according to Rider Levett Bucknall. In the first quarter of this year, RLB says, 208 cranes have been in use in Toronto, with 19 involved in commercial construction. As some tenants in commercial office space already try to shed square footage, listings website Spacelist.ca is seeing an increase in the total space available for sublease. Spacelist Commercial Listings, founded in 2012, aggregates commercial real estate listings from brokerages, property management groups, owners and third-party property marketing platforms. It tracks real-time data from active listings and demand from those searching for space. According to its data, Spacelist says total office square footage listed for sublease in 2020 compared with 2019 increased by 230 per cent in Edmonton, 400 per cent in Vancouver and 524 per cent in Toronto. More than half of tenants expected to downsize: survey For a prospective tenant, a suitable sublease can be valuable, as it can take over a space that has already been renovated for similar needs or even furnished. Steven Jaffe, CEO of Spacelist, says despite the pandemic and the growth in working remotely, there is still demand for office space. “In fact, there may even be increased demand. [But] the differentiation from pre-pandemic is the type of demand,” he said. “Instead of one 10,000- or 5,000-square-foot office in downtown Toronto, they may be looking for 1,500 square feet downtown and then a smaller one out in the suburbs — or maybe two, closer to employees.” What the future of work looks like is still in flux for many, and according to Altus Group, it may be less drastic than some had suspected last spring. “The expectation back then was that, ‘why do we need office?'” Wong said. In November, Altus Group conducted a survey of 85 clients from across Canada to get a sense of whether they still expect tenants to downsize and by how much. A ‘For Lease’ sign on a building on Bank Street in Ottawa in October 2020 advertises vacant office space. According to Altus Group, office availability in the city increased from 8.8 per cent in the last quarter of 2019 to 10 per cent in the fourth quarter of 2020. The survey found that 57 per cent of the respondents expected their tenants to downsize, but 62 per cent anticipated space needs would decrease by just 20 per cent or less. It’s a small snapshot of landlord expectations, not tenant intentions, but Wong still finds the results interesting. “That’s a big shift,” he said. Wong suspects it’s a result of waning productivity, Zoom fatigue and the expectation that people will want to come together again to work collaboratively. “I still believe that … when people feel safe again with the immunization and the vaccine, the office will return,” he said. Landlords offering incentives But it will likely look very different, according to Fleming of Real Strategy Advisors. “There’s going to be a huge amount of capital required to transition these spaces into these hybrid hub models,” he said. “We’re going to need to lean on technology more than we did before: screens, better cameras, better audio, better bandwidth to make sure that those people [working from home] are included and don’t feel isolated.” Fleming said he’s seeing landlords offer incentives such as cash to cover renovations to create custom spaces, in order to lock in new tenants. This office for lease in downtown Ottawa was among those viewed by RVezy in its hunt for a hybrid work-friendly space. Wong said rental prices haven’t changed substantially, but that could start to change depending on how long the office availability rate stays high. Michael McNaught of RVezy said that during his renewed search, landlords have been far more flexible now than prior to the pandemic on lease terms such as rental price and including extras such as more parking spots. “Everything’s on the table in these negotiations right now,” he said. WATCH | Growing Ottawa business finds options for office space: And while the allure of downtown may be fading for some, McNaught said RVezy is still interested, and he’s confident his employees will still want to be in downtown Ottawa with access to restaurants, coffee shops and culture. “No one’s going to forget what pre-pandemic life was like,” he said.
Alberta family searches for answers in teen's sudden death after COVID exposure, negative tests – CBC.ca
A southern Alberta mother and father are grappling with the sudden, unexplained death of their 17-year-old daughter, and with few answers, they’re left wondering if she could be the province’s youngest victim of COVID-19.
Sarah Strate — a healthy, active Grade 12 student at Magrath High School who loved singing, dancing and being outdoors — died on Monday, less than a week after being notified she’d been exposed to COVID-19.
While two tests came back negative, her parents say other signs point to the coronavirus, and they’re waiting for more answers.
“It was so fast. It’s all still such a shock,” said Sarah’s mother, Kristine Strate. “She never even coughed. She had a sore throat and her ears were sore for a while, and [she had] swollen neck glands.”
Kristine said Sarah developed mild symptoms shortly after her older sister — who later tested positive for COVID-19 — visited from Lethbridge, one of Alberta’s current hot spots for the virus.
The family went into isolation at their home in Magrath on Tuesday, April 20. They were swabbed the next day and the results were negative.
‘Everything went south, super-fast’
By Friday night, Sarah had developed fever and chills. On Saturday, she started vomiting and Kristine, a public health nurse, tried to keep her hydrated.
“She woke up feeling a bit more off on Monday morning,” Kristine said. “And everything went south, super-fast.”
Sarah had grown very weak and her parents decided to call 911 when she appeared to become delirious.
“She had her blanket on and I was talking to her and, in an instant, she was unresponsive,” said Kristine, who immediately started performing CPR on her daughter.
When paramedics arrived 20 minutes later, they were able to restore a heartbeat and rushed Sarah to hospital in Lethbridge, where she died.
“I thought there was hope once we got her heart rate back. I really did,” recalled Sarah’s father, Ron.
“He was praying for a miracle, and sometimes miracles don’t come,” said Kristine.
Searching for answers
At the hospital, the family was told Sarah’s lungs were severely infected and that she may have ended up with blood clots in both her heart and lungs, a condition that can be a complication of COVID-19.
But a second test at the hospital came back negative for COVID-19.
“There really is no other answer,” Ron said. “When a healthy 17-year-old girl, who was sitting up in her bed and was able to talk, and within 10 minutes is unconscious on our floor — there was no reason [for it].”
The province currently has no record of any Albertans under the age of 20 who have died of COVID-19.
According to the Strate family, the medical examiner is running additional blood and tissue tests, in an effort to uncover the cause of Sarah’s death.
‘Unusual but not impossible’
University of Alberta infectious disease specialist Dr. Lynora Saxinger, who was not involved in Sarah’s treatment, says it is conceivable that further testing could uncover evidence of a COVID-19 infection, despite two negative test results.
However, she hasn’t seen a similar case in Alberta.
“It would be unusual but not impossible because no test is perfect. We have had cases where an initial test is negative and then if you keep on thinking it’s COVID and you re-test, you then can find COVID,” she said.
According to Saxinger, the rate of false negatives is believed to be very low. But it can happen if there are problems with the testing or specimen collection.
She says people are more likely to test positive after symptoms develop.
“The best sensitivity of the test is around day four or five of having symptoms,” she said. “So you can miss things if you test very, very early. And with new development of symptoms, it’s always a good time to re-test because then the likelihood of getting a positive test is a little higher. But again, no test is perfect.”
Sarah deteriorated so quickly — dying five days after she first developed symptoms — she didn’t live long enough to make it to her follow-up COVID-19 test. Instead, it was done at the hospital.
‘An amazing kid’
The Strate family now faces an agonizing wait for answers — one that will likely take months — about what caused Sarah’s death.
But Ron, who teaches at the school where Sarah attended Grade 12, wants his daughter to be remembered for the life she lived, not her death.
Sarah was one of five children. Ron says she was strong, active and vibrant and had plans to become a massage therapist after graduating from high school.
She played several sports and loved to sing and dance as part of a show choir. She was a leader in the school’s suicide prevention group and would stand up for other students who were facing bullying.
“She’s one of the leaders in our Hope Squad … which goes out and helps kids to not be scared,” he father said.
“She’s an amazing kid.”
Sarah would often spend hours helping struggling classmates, and her parents hope her kindness is not forgotten.
“She’d done so many good things. Honestly, I’ve got so many messages from parents saying, ‘You have no idea how much your daughter helped our kid,'” said Ron.
“This 17-year-old girl probably lived more of a life in 17 years than most adults will live in their whole lives. She was so special. I love her so much.”
China launches key module of space station planned for 2022
BEIJING (Reuters) -China launched an unmanned module on Thursday containing what will become living quarters for three crew on a permanent space station that it plans to complete by the end of 2022, state media reported.
The module, named “Tianhe”, or “Harmony of the Heavens”, was launched on the Long March 5B, China’s largest carrier rocket, at 11:23 a.m. (0323 GMT) from the Wenchang Space Launch Centre on the southern island of Hainan.
Tianhe is one of three main components of what would be China’s first self-developed space station, rivalling the only other station in service – the International Space Station (ISS).
The ISS is backed by the United States, Russia, Europe, Japan and Canada. China was barred from participating by the United States.
“(Tianhe) is an important pilot project in the building of a powerful nation in both technology and in space,” state media quoted President Xi Jinping as saying in a congratulatory speech.
Tianhe forms the main living quarters for three crew members in the Chinese space station, which will have a life span of at least 10 years.
The Tianhe launch was the first of 11 missions needed to complete the space station, which will orbit Earth at an altitude of 340 to 450 km (211-280 miles).
In the later missions, China will launch the two other core modules, four manned spacecraft and four cargo spacecraft.
Work on the space station programme began a decade ago with the launch of a space lab Tiangong-1 in 2011, and later, Tiangong-2 in 2016.
Both helped China test the programme’s space rendezvous and docking capabilities.
China aims to become a major space power by 2030. It has ramped up its space programme with visits to the moon, the launch of an uncrewed probe to Mars and the construction of its own space station.
In contrast, the fate of the ageing ISS – in orbit for more than two decades – remains uncertain.
The project is set to expire in 2024, barring funding from its partners. Russia said this month that it would quit the project from 2025.
Russia is deepening ties with China in space as tensions with Washington rise.
Moscow has slammed the U.S.-led Artemis moon exploration programme and instead chosen to join Beijing in setting up a lunar research outpost in the coming years.
(Reporting by Ryan Woo and Liangping Gao; Editing by Christian Schmollinger, Simon Cameron-Moore and Lincoln Feast.)
NASA Pays Rich Homage To Apollo 11 Astronaut Michael Collins – Gadgets 360
NASA on Thursday paid a rich tribute to Michael Collins, the American astronaut who was the command module pilot for the Apollo 11 mission to the moon. Collins, 90, passed away on Wednesday after battling cancer, his family said. Sharing a photograph on Instagram, NASA said the picture was clicked by Collins, who spent seven years of his career as an astronaut with them. The photograph shows the lunar module, “Eagle,” returning to the command module, “Columbia,” after landing on the Moon. The Earth can be seen in the background of the picture. NASA said the picture had all of the humanity in it, save for Collins who captured it.
Collins kept the command module flying while Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin became the first humans to walk on the moon. “We remember Michael Collins, @NASA astronaut and crew member of Apollo 11, who passed away on April 28, 2021,” NASA said.
In the post, NASA also quoted what Collins had said during a transmission to Mission Control on the trip back to Earth from the Moon on July 21, 1969. “This trip of ours to the Moon may have looked, to you, simple or easy… All you see is the three of us, but beneath the surface are thousands and thousands of others, and to all those I would like to say, thank you very much.”
NASA further shared what the mission control stated during Apollo 11. “Not since Adam has any human known such solitude as Mike Collins is experiencing during the 47 minutes of each lunar revolution when he’s behind the Moon with no one to talk to except his tape recorder aboard Columbia. While he waits for his comrades to soar with Eagle from Tranquility Base and rejoin him for the trip back to Earth, Collins, with the help of Flight Controllers here in Mission Control Center has kept the Command Module’s system going.”
Besides, the space agency also released a statement, saying the nation had lost a “true pioneer and lifelong advocate for exploration” in Collins. NASA Administrator Steve Jurczyk said that as the pilot of Apollo 11 some referred to him as the “loneliest man in history”.
“While his colleagues walked on the Moon for the first time, he helped our nation achieve a defining milestone. He also distinguished himself in the Gemini Program and as an Air Force pilot,” he said.
Jurczyk shared that Collins would say, “Exploration is not a choice, really, it’s an imperative,” adding “What would be worth recording is what kind of civilisation we Earthlings created and whether or not we ventured out into other parts of the galaxy.”
Jurczyk added that Collins’ own signature accomplishments, his writings about his experiences, and his leadership of the National Air and Space Museum helped gain wide exposure for the work of all the men and women who have helped our nation push itself to greatness in aviation and space. “There is no doubt he inspired a new generation of scientists, engineers, test pilots, and astronauts.”
AMC expects people to return to theaters as vaccine rollout gathers pace
Drugmakers say Biden misguided over vaccine patent waiver
Ashleigh Barty, Aryna Sabalenka to meet in Madrid final – WTA roundup
Silver investment demand jumped 12% in 2019
Iran anticipates renewed protests amid social media shutdown
Europe kicks off vaccination programs | All media content | DW | 27.12.2020 – Deutsche Welle
Business10 hours ago
Woodfibre LNG signs second BP deal for British Columbia LNG plant
Real eState10 hours ago
Canadian home prices, sales to moderate but remain high
News4 hours ago
Closer EU military cooperation with U.S., Canada, Norway is quantum leap, Germany says
Economy6 hours ago
Bank of England sees faster economic rebound
Health5 hours ago
Moderna says waiving IP rights won’t help increase vaccine supply
News3 hours ago
EU supports COVID vaccine patent waiver talks, but critics say won’t solve scarcity
Economy5 hours ago
Bank of England line up to taper emergency stimulus
News10 hours ago
Alberta drops vaccine age to 12 as COVID-19 cases surge