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Ottawa's vacancy rate went up, but so did average rents in 2019 – Ottawa Citizen



Rental properties in downtown Ottawa. August 8, 2018. Errol McGihon/Postmedia

Errol McGihon / Postmedia

While it might have become a little easier to find a rental in Ottawa in 2019, it also got more expensive to cover the rent, on average.

That’s the big take-away from the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation’s 2019 rental market report for the Ontario side of Ottawa-Gatineau, released Wednesday.

While the national vacancy rent for rental apartment units shrank for the third year in a row to 2.2 per cent, the same vacancy rate in Ottawa rose slightly, from 1.6 per cent in 2018 to 1.8 per cent in 2019. It’s the first year since 2015 that the vacancy rate in the capital has eased rather than tightened.

Important to note, however, is that this uptick was driven by an increased bachelor apartment vacancy rate — the movement in vacancy rates for all other bedroom-count units was not statistically significant.

Anne-Marie Shaker, an CMHC analyst, explained that Ottawa was well-past due for new rental apartment construction. “We had an aging purpose-built apartment stock, most of the apartment stock was built in the ’70s and ’80s,” she said. 

With new supply coming online, and rental construction slated to continue, “We do expect … that the vacancy rate will go up slightly,” said Shaker. At the same time, “the demands still remain strong for Ottawa, even though we’re seeing rising supply.”

CMHC cites steady net migration to Ottawa as a factor pushing this demand — newcomers tend to rent for their first few years in Canada. So too is “strong employment growth” among the students and young professionals who make up much of the rental market.

Local and international students at Ottawa’s universities and colleges are also “a key force for rental demand” in the city, according to CMHC.

As the appetite for rentals accommodations remains strong, don’t expect bargain basement rents. In 2019 the average rents in Ottawa for bachelor and one-bedroom apartments were $933 and $1,178, respectively, and rose 6.8 and 8.1 per cent between 2018 and 2019. 

The capital saw higher rent growth than the country as a whole. While the average rent for a two-bedroom apartment in Ottawa was $1,410 in 2019, and up eight per cent from the year before, the same measure only rose 3.9 per cent nationwide over the same period and the average two-bedroom rent in Canada was $1,077 in 2019.

In addition to healthy demand, Shaker includes new rental construction and low tenant turnover among the reasons for Ottawa’s higher-than-average growth in rents.

“Stricter mortgage rules, low resale supply and rising MLS average prices may have pushed down turnover rates as households chose to continue to rent over transitioning into home ownership,” the CMHC report notes.

Relative to Canada’s largest cities, Ottawa is still pretty affordable.

Compared with $1,410 in the capital, the average rent for two-bedroom apartment in Toronto was $1,562 in 2019. In Vancouver it was $1,748.

But in Calgary and Edmonton, the average was $1,305 and $1,257, respectively.

Quebec, as usual, is in a league of its own. In Montreal, the two-bedroom average was $855 while in Gatineau, it was $874.

Among Ottawa neighbourhoods, the vacancy rate was highest and went up the most in Sandy Hill/Lowertown between 2018 and 2019, rising to 2.7 per cent. The runner-up was downtown, where the vacancy rate rose to 2.6 per cent. Chinatown/Hintonburg wasn’t far behind, with a 2.3 per cent vacancy rate.

Most of the new rental supply in 2019 was in Chinatown/Hintonburg and Sandy Hill/Lowertown, “explaining the upward pressure on the vacancy rate in those zones,” CHMC concludes.

Downtown, the buoyant vacancy rate was thanks in large part to expensive two-bedroom units. The average asking rent across vacant two-bedrooms was 17 per cent higher downtown than the city’s average and at $1,798 was the highest in urban Ottawa — likely leading to a higher vacancy rate for this particular unit type.

A similar phenomenon was seen in west Ottawa, including Kanata, where the average asking rents on vacant two-bedrooms were 62 per cent higher than Ottawa’s average, “likely contributing to an increase in the vacancy rate,” according to CMHC.


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Nova Scotia company waiting on Health Canada approval for rapid antigen test for COVID-19 – CTV News Atlantic



The Sona Nanotech lab in Dartmouth is making history by developing a rapid antigen test for COVID-19.

“There was a moment of tremendous pride for the entire team, as Canadians, when our evaluation results came back from both third-party laboratories and in-field trials and it showed how strongly our test preformed,” said CEO David Regan.

Here’s a simple breakdown of how the test works: After a nasal pharyngeal swab is administered, the swab is placed in a tube of solution for a few moments. Then, a sample of that is placed on a lateral flow test, like a pregnancy test. The results appear within 15 minutes.

“The Sona Nanotech test is like a pregnancy test. It’s a lateral flow test and those pregnancy tests detect the existence of a hormone, our test detects the presence of the coronavirus,” said Regan.

Sona Nanotech is the only company in Canada to come up with this technology.

“The four antigen tests that have been approved in the U.S. so far are from billion dollar companies, multi-billion dollar companies, with vast resources,” said Regan.

“This test at Sona Nanotech has been developed in the lab, here at the bays in Dartmouth based on research that was started at St. Francis Xavier University in the chemistry lab there and brought to fruition over the last nine months.”

Regan says the test could help triage people faster and free up the health-care system.

“A rapid test for COVID would be a great idea,” said Dr. Todd Hatchette, the Chief of Microbiology with the Nova Scotia Health Authority. “Having the ability to provide results within 15 or 20 minutes can be helpful in many different situations. But again, it comes back to primary concern, are these tests accurate, and are they sensitive to pick up the infection.”

Regan says it is.

“This is a screening device that can be used widespread to pick up not only the virus of those people that have symptoms but importantly, before people have symptoms,” he said. “At that stage, positives can be sent to the labs for confirmation but that will be result in much shorter turnaround times.”

Right now, it’s a waiting game for the lab as they seek approval from Health Canada.

In the meantime, the company is also working on a saliva at-home test, which is considered in the early stages of development.

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Another Billion-Dollar Oil Merger Is On The Horizon –



Can The UK Auto Industry Bounce Back? |

Ag Metal Miner

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We may be coming out of the first pandemic lockdown and business does, broadly, appear to be picking up; however, but some sections of manufacturing, including U.K. car manufacturing, are still suffering badly.

U.K. car industry, supply chain face challenges

An article in the Financial Times starkly outlines the continued pain the U.K. car industry is experiencing and, by extension its extended supply chain.

U.K. car manufacturing fell 44% last month compared with a year earlier. Domestic orders and exports remain severely depressed. Last month’s performance marked the sector’s second-worst since car plants restarted after lockdown.

The Financial Times went on to advise that just 51,039 cars rolled off British production lines. The total fell from 92,153 in August 2019. Meanwhile, August output for U.K. buyers fell 58% to just 7,795 vehicles. The number of cars made for export fell 41% to 73,443 cars.

To be fair, several plants working during summer 2019 boosted August 2019 performance. Summer output followed a three-week closedown in the spring to prepare for the expected Brexit in 2019, which in the end did not transpire.

So, looking at the first half of each year gives a fairer comparison. Yet, even in that view, the decline remains dramatic.

Between January and August, the U.K. produced 40.2% fewer cars than in the same months a year earlier. The period included several weeks of complete stoppages during the first lockdown in March and April.

Year-to-date production is now down by 348,821 units worth more than £9.5 billion to U.K. carmakers, according to the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT). Furthermore, projections suggest U.K. car manufacturers are now on track to produce just below 885,000 cars this year – down 34% on 2019.

Job losses in the sector

The SMMT reported at least 13,500 jobs have been cut across the U.K. automotive sector this year. The body warned up to one in six positions may be at risk in the future.

Manufacturers are hoping the government’s latest job retention scheme will help employers keep skilled workers. Skilled workers will be needed if, or when, demand comes back, but many of them are currently facing redundancy.

Rising coronavirus cases, tightening restrictions, and Brexit

Yet with virus cases increasing in the U.K. and containment measures ramping up, the SMMT is if anything more pessimistic now than it was in the early summer.

Related: The World’s Most Expensive Crudes Get Expensive Again

The SMMT says business restrictions look set to make the industry’s attempts to restart even more challenging, with the prospect of Britain’s exit from the European Union also now just 100 days away.

The industry is not in a good state to handle the country’s imminent exit from Europe on Jan. 1. In addition, the automotive industry has been at the forefront of demanding a free trade deal between the U.K. and the E.U., saying last week that “no deal” would cost the pan-European automotive industry some £100 billion in lost trade over the next five years.

Europe, though, is proving very unwilling to retain the open-door, free-trade environment for electric vehicles – which it sees as the future – as it currently does for internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicles.

The future of U.K.-E.U. auto trade

The Financial Times recently reported E.U. diplomats said the European Commission is wary of agreeing to U.K. car manufacturers being allowed to source a large number of components from other countries while still exporting electric vehicles tariff-free to the E.U.

Four out of five cars made in the U.K. are exported. Of those exports, more than half goes to the E.U. British car plants owned by Nissan, Toyota and PSA are all reliant on European sales for more than half of their business.

Last year, Nissan sold more than 30,000 U.K.-built Leaf electric cars to Europe. Toyota exported close to 120,000 hybrid models across the channel. Europe is keen to keep the U.K. as a market for components and finished vehicles but not so keen on allowing these plants to sell into the E.U. tariff-free after Brexit.

Coming on top of already challenging times this year, some foreign owners of U.K. car plants may begin to wonder whether continuing to invest in the U.K. is as desirable as it once was.

By AG Metal Miner 

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Some Ontario casinos open as province reports COVID-19 surge – CP24 Toronto's Breaking News



TORONTO – Several Ontario casinos reopened on Monday as the province reported a surge in new cases of COVID-19.

Great Canadian Gaming Corporation says it reopened 11 of its properties, including Casino Woodbine in Toronto and Casino Ajax.

Ontario allowed casinos to reopen as parts of the province moved into Stage Three of their pandemic response this summer.

The province has, however, prohibited table games at the establishments.

Great Canadian Gaming said it will have a limit of 50 guests indoors at its casinos and is focused on reopening safely.

Ontario reported 700 new cases of COVID-19 on Monday, the highest daily increase recorded since the start of the pandemic.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Sept. 28, 2020.

This story was produced with the financial assistance of the Facebook and Canadian Press News Fellowship.

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