“Intermittent issues” in a telecommunications system led to delayed WestJet flights in Canada and abroad Thursday morning, but the source of the problem is believed to have been key fiber lines damaged in a train derailment near Bassano.
Officials with the Calgary-based airline confirm to CTV News that a NAV Canada system outage has been restored but, as of 10 a.m., baggage check-in problems persisted in Calgary, Ottawa, Saskatoon and Halifax.
“An infrastructure outage is currently impacting WestJet’s airport check-in, flight planning and payment services on WestJet.com and continues to intermittently impact operations,” said a WestJet spokesperson in a statement. “We are working to restore service and encourage guests to arrive early and check their flight status due to delays with the check-in process at the airport.
“We thank all guests for their patience as we continue to work towards resolving the issue.”
NAV Canada confirms the disruption was with a telecommunications system of Zayo, a third-party provider.
“Ensuring the safe movement of air traffic in Canadian airspace is NAV Canada’s top priority,” said a NAV Canada spokesperson in a statement to CTV News. “As such, air traffic control will reduce the flow of departures and arrivals temporarily in some situations until the Zayo has restored service. Procedures are in place to assure safety of aircraft in our airspace.
“We regret the inconvenience to air carriers and their passengers due to this third-party outage. Passengers are encouraged to check with their airlines for specific details regarding flight delays and cancellations.”
Zayo officials confirm the outage was the result of an unspecified train derailment on Wednesday that damaged fiber lines.
“Zayo is working on a swift restoration of service following the disruption of two key fiber lines managed by one of our underlying fiber providers in Canada, including an outage caused by a train derailment yesterday evening. We have rerouted a significant volume of traffic via other routes so that our customers can begin resuming normal operations. We regret the inconvenience this has caused for our customers and air passengers, and our top priority is the safety of everyone involved.”
Hudson's Bay to resurrect discount retail chain Zellers – CBC News
Canadian department store Zellers hopes to make a comeback next year, a decade after the discount chain shuttered most of its locations.
Hudson’s Bay Co. says Zellers will debut a new e-commerce website and expand its brick-and-mortar footprint within select Hudson’s Bay department stores across the country in early 2023.
- What do you remember about shopping at Zellers? Let us know in an email to email@example.com
The company says the relaunched Zellers will offer “a digital-first shopping journey that taps into the nostalgia of the brand.”
In an email to CBC News, a spokesperson for Hudson’s Bay did not confirm where the new Zellers stores will be located.
Initial inventory will include housewares, furniture and toys, with apparel to be introduced later in the year. The company also plans to launch a private brand, according to the release.
Lawsuit over Zellers brand ongoing
The return of Zellers comes as soaring inflation drives consumers to discount retailers in search of lower prices. It follows Tuesday’s announcement from Hudson’s Bay that outdoor gear retailer MEC will open shops in three Bay department store locations this fall.
It also comes amid an ongoing lawsuit over a Quebec family’s use of the Zellers brand.
The Moniz family is behind various recent trademark applications and corporate registries, including Zellers Inc., Zellers Convenience Store Inc. and Zellers Restaurant Inc.
In a statement of claim filed last fall, HBC accused the Moniz family of trademark infringement, depreciation of goodwill and so-called passing off — the deceptive marketing or misrepresentation of goods.
Bruce Winder, a Toronto-based retail analyst, said he believes the Zellers revival is partly a reaction to the lawsuit.
“They need to demonstrate that they are still interested in the brand and there’s no better way to do that than actually open some stores,” Winder said.
Mixed reaction from consumers, retail strategists
CBC News heard a range of responses from consumers with fond — and not-so-fond — memories of shopping at Zellers. Some are hoping for the return of the in-store restaurant and the brand’s mascot, Zeddy.
Others expressed hope that Zellers could compete with big-box stores such as Walmart and Giant Tiger.
“I always thought the Zellers was the store that catered to everyone, and I was very disappointed to see it go,” said Diane, a longtime resident of Toronto’s Richmond Hill neighbourhood.
“And then we had Target. It didn’t meet up to the Zellers standards. I would love to see it come back. I think it would service a lot of people from different incomes.”
Others recalled bad customer service experiences, a shortage of advertised products and understaffed stores. Some expressed concern that the store wouldn’t carry locally made products.
Seeing way more posts about <a href=”https://twitter.com/hashtag/Zellers?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>#Zellers</a> today than I ever did in the 90s
Mark Satov, a strategy adviser at Toronto-based Satov Consultants who worked with Zellers in the past, is cautiously optimistic about the brand’s resurrection.
“They probably have to spend a little less to resurrect this brand than to create a new brand,” he said.
Satov added that he doesn’t think the brand has a negative connotation among consumers — but it wasn’t a successful business, which is why it was sold, he said.
“I think it’s an OK move. I’m not sure that this is going to be a home run, but let’s see.”
Others have lower expectations. While the move is meant to capitalize on consumers’ nostalgia for the Zellers brand, many will associate the company with a negative shopping experience, according to Craig Patterson, the founder and publisher of retail media site Retail Insider.
“I think people are just excited to get something that was in their lives in the past, and that could be almost anything. But I’m not sure if this Zellers move is going to be a positive one long term for Hudson’s Bay,” Patterson said. “It really remains to be seen in how it’s executed.”
“I think that there is going to be an uphill battle in developing this new brand and creating these shops and stores, as well as this entire new e-commerce division for the Hudson Bay Company, which is, again, an expansion for that company.”
Most stores closed by 2013
The Zellers department store was founded in 1931 and acquired by HBC in 1978.
It operated as the discount division of its flagship Hudson’s Bay department stores, with the slogan “Where the lowest price is the law.”
The store hit its peak of about 350 locations in the late 1990s, before losing ground to big-box competitors such as Walmart.
In 2011, HBC announced plans to sell the majority of its remaining Zellers leases to Target Corp., closing most stores by 2013.
The retailer kept a handful of Zellers locations open as liquidation outlets until 2020.
The company launched a pop-up Zellers shop inside Hudson’s Bay department stores in Burlington, Ont., and Anjou, Que., in 2021.
Canadian Inflation Cools But Hot Core Keeps Up Rate Pressure – Bloomberg
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- Canadian Inflation Cools But Hot Core Keeps Up Rate Pressure Bloomberg
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- Inflation in Canada slows in July, rising 7.6 per cent from last year Yahoo Canada Finance
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Where to look for cheap rent in Canada, as prices soar, again – CBC.ca
As rent prices spiked over the past two months, affordable pockets of rental housing became harder and harder to find.
In July, the average monthly cost for rental properties across Canada was $1,934 — up 10.4 per cent over last year, according to the data of the property listing company Rentals.ca. A similar hike in June saw the average rent spike 9.5 per cent.
Analysts say the steep prices are being driven by more demand than inventory.
And that demand is being driven in part by some people fleeing larger cities, while others flock to them.
This creates a challenge for people like Joan Alexander.
The senior has rented homes across Canada, in St. Catharines, Ont., and Guelph, Ont., then in Castlegar, B.C., and for the past two years on Prince Edward Island.
Alexander and her partner chose Summerside, a city about 50 kilometres northwest of Charlottetown, for its small-town feel.
But rising rental costs and other considerations — like proximity to health care — are driving her to relocate.
“We really hoped that P.E.I. would be our last stop on our life journey,” she said.
Last year, rents on P.E.I. rose higher than they had in a decade. Plus rental places are scarce.
Finding affordable rental housing in Canada after a pandemic is proving a challenge for many, with spiking interest rates, inflation and limited rental stock.
Ben Myers, president of Bullpen Research and Consulting, a real estate advisory firm that tracks rental pricing in Canada, says if you are looking for a deal there still are some places he’d describe as comparatively “cheap.”
He suggests looking at Red Deer or Lethbridge in Alberta, or Saskatoon.
“You can get a two-bedroom for under $1,150 a month. It’s all about where you can work,” said Myers.
Alexander says she was able to find a few havens on the Prairies.
“It felt almost too good to be true. There seemed to be a few pockets where we could find what we were looking for. Pet friendly, affordable, safe housing,” said Alexander, who needs monitoring after donating a kidney and a place that welcomes her small, beloved dog — Beau.
Lloydminster — a city that spans Alberta and Saskatchewan — attracted Alexander and her spouse with affordable prices and a pet-friendly property owner.
They move in October to their new $1,200-per-month home.
Rentals.ca listings include detached and semi-detached homes, townhouses, condominium apartments, rental apartments and basement apartments. The company can’t provide an average rent for all cities. Some smaller communities don’t have enough rentals to get an accurate average.
So it’s worth hunting. There are some hidden gems.
Myers says that in a normal year, rent can fluctuate on average three to five per cent. But average rents grew 10 to 12 per cent in 2019, due to a shortage of supply, he says. Then the pandemic hit and rent declined, on average, 15 to 20 per cent.
“We are now adjusting back to pre-pandemic levels,” said Myers.
Renters on the move
Then there are the super-expensive anomalies — like Vancouver, which rebounded even faster from the pandemic, with a per month average rent of $2,300 in June 2022.
Myers says there have also been significant shifts to cities that used to enjoy low rent, as some people migrate to smaller places where they can get more real estate for their dollar.
Retiring Baby Boomers from the Toronto area are creating demand and raising prices in places like the Niagara Region and Halifax, for example.
“Halifax has gone kind of nuclear. Definitely a lot of Ontarians moved to Halifax during the pandemic,” Myers said.
Also, he says a lot of students stayed in their university towns like Victoria, London, Ont., and Kingston, Ont., when offices closed during the past two years.
“All the benefits of living in a big city were almost bad because you didn’t want to be around a lot of people during a pandemic,” said Myers.
Vanishing affordable rentals
But all this change has just put more pressure on the rental market that’s been seeing declines in rental options for low earners for more than a decade, according to housing policy researcher Steve Pomeroy.
He uses Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) data to probe losses in the rental market.
Pomeroy, the senior research fellow for the Centre of Urban Research at Carleton University, estimates that between 2011 and 2016, the number of rental units that would be affordable for households earning less than $30,000 per year — with rents below $750 — declined by 322,600 in Canada.
That has an effect on the one in three Canadians who rent, according to 2016 census data.
Pomeroy says historically Quebec offered the largest rental stock available in the country.
“Quebec has always been culturally very different. Rent is much more culturally accepted. It’s a bit about European influence … You get these very scenic estates of two-, three-storey homes with the wrought iron staircase and with three units, and two are rented. So by definition, two-thirds of your population are renters,” he said.
He says perhaps it’s time for the remainder of Canada to consider a more European model, where renting is more accepted.
He says there are many cities, in France and Germany for example, where renters almost match owners in population.
North America historically has had a different culture, where owning is seen as better.
“Traditionally there has been very strong support for home ownership. Here in Canada we’ve had mortgage insurance including increasing access to credit for buyers … the political system has very much reinforced that belief system, that ownership is the right thing to do.”
But now, tenancy and anti-poverty organizations are lobbying for more renters’ rights. That’s something Pomeroy sees as a positive shift.
He also says he believes many younger Canadians see renting as their future. It gives them the freedom to pursue experiences, move for jobs and not remain tethered to a property that they can’t afford.
Pomeroy recently asked his graduate students — all employed and in their 20s — if they thought they could buy a home in the next five years. Would you want to?
He says he was surprised to hear for the first time, none of them believed they could.
“Nobody thought they could, and only about half actually wanted to.”
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