Tech offices revive Winnipeg’s emerging Exchange District

Tech jobs have grown 40 per cent in Manitoba's capital city, driving office market demand

Western Investor
January 3, 2019

exchange district winnipeg
Winnipeg’s historic Exchange District is attracting tech office tenants. | SkyriseCities

Growth in technology jobs is providing a boost to Winnipeg’s office market, according to commercial agency CBRE.

The city has added nearly 5,000 tech jobs in the last five years, bringing the total up to nearly 17,000, a growth rate of about 40 per cent. That’s the second-highest growth rate among mid-sized Canadian cities, said Ryan Behie, managing director of CBRE Winnipeg.

“We look at tech [companies]; that’s what’s driving the office markets across Canada,” he said.

Technology firms require clusters of various companies, universities and colleges and research institutions to grow and thrive, he said, which is why the city’s Exchange District is becoming increasingly popular.

The neighbourhood is home to Red River College and a small University of Manitoba campus. The University of Winnipeg is only a short distance away.

The tech-related activity has helped push Winnipeg’s office vacancy rate down to 10.7 per cent, which is the fourth lowest in the country, trailing only Toronto, Vancouver and Ottawa.

Rental rates are also staying “buoyant” as these firms typically do not offer work-from-home options to their people, according to Behie.

“They’re about culture, clustering and fostering a dynamic eco-system in bricks and mortar,” he said.

Winnipeg is also one of the best-value markets for tech firms, Behie said. 

“The relatively low cost of real estate and tech talent wages means Winnipeg is the second-cheapest mid-sized tech market in Canada,” he said. 

Geoff has been a contributor to Western Investor for 15 years. He is also a senior business reporter at the Winnipeg Free Press, covering real estate and financial services. Geoff plays competitive tennis at a national level in the senior ranks and is an amateur boxer and hockey player. His favourite Star Wars character is Yoda.
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