Bending the “curve” the Canadian way

Real estate community among those stepping up to ease stress and save lives during this unprecedented time in our country’s history

By
Western Investor
April 24, 2020





Bending down

When the going gets tough we all know what Canadians are famous for, and they certainly got going in big way during the current pandemic. 

In the past few weeks since the realization of what the COVID-19 monster really is, we have seen every sector, from giant commercial real estate companies to student volunteers, rally. The goal is to bring down a curve that represents the sick and dying from a fast-moving, incurable disease that has engulfed the world and plunged most of it into recession.

RioCan Real Estate Investment Trust (REIT), one of Canada’s largest retail landlords, has provided immediate rent relief to thousands of its non-essential tenants who were forced to close, despite the REIT itself suffering a 50 per cent plunge in its own share price. 

Giant Ivanhoé Cambridge, which owns some of the biggest shopping centres in Canada, such as CrossIron Mills in Calgary and B.C.’s Tsawwassen Mills, is also offering rent concessions to its vulnerable tenants across the country.

SmartCentres has volunteered one million square feet of space, parking and signage to healthcare authorities at its 200 Canadian shopping centres.

Before most provinces had even thought of residential tenants, one of the biggest landlords in the country, Canadian Apartment Properties REIT, had frozen rental increases for its 65,000 tenants and reached out to those facing financial hardships with rent deferral programs and payment options.

Smaller landlord Avenue Living of Calgary has voluntarily frozen rent increases and is offering its 10,000 tenants weekly payment options during the crisis.

On the street, scores of small food truck operators rallied to join a national movement that is now offering free food to long-haul truckers who continue to carry essential materials across provinces dotted with shuttered restaurants.

Hotels such as the Holiday Inn Express in North Battleford, Saskatchewan, have opened their doors to provide truckers with free meals, showers and a place to rest. 

Other hotels are offering safe spaces for those recovering from COVID-19 and who have no other place to self-isolate.

At Okanagan College in the B.C. Interior,  medical students whose final semester was curtailed due to the pandemic all volunteered to back up front-line workers in their communities. Other medical students across the country have done the same, and hundreds of retired medical professionals have rushed to the frontline.

And, right across Canada, individual citizens have followed health regulations and stayed hom, just their businesses and helped each other out, at a distance. 

This pandemic will end – already the curve is flattening because of public response –  and something tells us Canada will be a better country because of it.

Keep safe out there. 


Frank O'Brien is the editor of Western Canada's biggest commercial real estate newspaper, Western Investor, as well as a contributing editor at West Coast Condominium, real estate contributor to Business in Vancouver and a regular media commentator on real estate investment.
Copyright © Western Investor

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