Behind the headlines of Ottawa’s biggest business stories this week

In this Behind the Headlines podcast episode, OBJ publisher Michael Curran speaks with OBJ editors David Sali and Peter Kovessy about some of the week’s biggest stories and how Ottawa’s business community is adapting to the ongoing economic challenges.

This is an edited transcript of the panel discussion. To hear the full interview, please watch the video above. Prefer an audio version of this podcast? Listen to it on SoundCloud or Spotify

CURRAN: There is a massive new business park planned for Ottawa. Dave, you’ve been looking into this. Tell us what’s happening. 

SALI: There is one million square feet of office, warehouse and industrial space planned for construction on 100 acres of land that is owned by the National Capital Commission, near the corner of Hunt Club Road and Highway 417. The application was just recently filed at City Hall by a local real estate investment firm called Avenue31. 

The proposal says they want to build a premiere business and industrial park on Russell Road. It would be called the National Capital Business Park and it would be a massive project – six buildings in various sizes, meant to suit the needs of the region's logistics and industrial users. 

CURRAN: Last week we heard some predictions about how Ottawa’s residential real estate market might weather the storm in terms of sales. Peter, we now have some numbers for the month of May – tell us how things are looking.

KOVESSY: What’s surprising a lot of people is how Ottawa’s home sale prices are not just holding during the COVID-19 pandemic – the rapid ascent we’ve seen in recent months has continued uninterrupted. In the month of May, the average home sale price increased 11 per cent year-over-year, with the average home now trading for almost $550,000.

CURRAN: Dave, that’s the residential side, of course. What is the commercial side looking like? 

SALI: Earlier this week I spoke with Bruce Wolfgram from Proveras. He said the market is actually holding up quite well despite a bit of a downturn in the economy. He says there is a certain amount of anxiety among landlords and tenants, which you might expect, as no one is sure where the economy is headed or how quickly it will recover. But despite that, there has been no shortage of interest in vacant office properties in Ottawa. 

CURRAN: Peter, we’ve seen a real uptick in the use of sharing platforms lately. Can you tell us what’s happening in that market, particularly in recreational vehicles?

KOVESSY: We’ve been seeing two real trends here. One of the main storylines we’ve been seeing is that tourism this summer is going to be focused on domestic tourism, people staying close to home and road trip vacations and renting RVs from services such as RVezy or Ruckify. 

The other part that is interesting about the peer-to-peer business model is that there are a lot of households who may be under financial pressure who may be looking out in the driveway and seeing an RV, and seeing the opportunity to put that up for rent and generating a bit more income.