Canada's Top Cities for Real Estate Investment
Written by Tami Jones
Real estate investments in Canada are just as lucrative today as they were before the worldwide financial crisis, in fact, arguably even more so. Due to Canada’s diverse regional economies, the Canadian real estate market is now better analyzed on an individual provincial basis.
As usual, the most vibrant real estate jewels are hiding in the small to mid-sized towns, where relatively low housing prices combined with surging local economies make for a more predictable and stable market.
Looking at a town’s future, rather than the success of its past, is the best way to scout out an investment property in Canada. With its arresting beauty, vast territories, and flourishing national prosperity, Canadian real estate investments remain a worthy venture.
Business Review Canada takes a look at some of Canada’s strongest real estate investment cities.
The City of Barrie, Ontario
Located only an hour’s drive from lively Toronto, Barrie is one of the fastest growing cities in Canada. Barrie is a charming and vibrant community that offers a laid-back lifestyle for people who prefer a slower pace with the convenience of a multi-cultural city only a short distance away.
Barrie is surrounded by the scenic wilderness that has captivated visitors from around the world for centuries. The city also has numerous winter recreation activities and facilities, ample parkland, and a breathtaking waterfront. The historic downtown boasts a variety of local fashion boutiques, music and arts scene, and a multitude of pubs and restaurants. In recent years, Barrie has managed to bloom from a picturesque vacation destination to a year round thriving economy.
The economy is multi-faceted and includes a full range of businesses from high-tech, industrial, and agricultural. The city has remained strong during the economic crisis due to new development, continuous improvements in public transportation, steady job growth, and economic diversification.
Maple Ridge & Pitt Meadows, B.C.
Maple Ridge is currently transforming their historically poor transportation infrastructure with the Translink/Gateway Project, which will address growing congestion and reduce travel times. The region will see tremendous benefit from the project with not only increased accessibility to other areas, but with greater opportunity as businesses move into the area.
The transportation and infrastructure investments have catapulted land value and building prospects for the area. While both commercial and residential properties remain at below-average prices, they are expected to skyrocket in value down the road. As the transportation improvements start to take hold, the city has predicted that an additional 400 businesses will call the area home.
Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows is a perfect distance away from the Metro Vancouver area giving residents the luxury of living in a tranquil town while still having access to a big city.
City of Surrey, B.C.
With its cultural diversity and international flavor, Surrey is an emerging metropolis with a dynamic local economy. With over 6,000 acres of parkland and green spaces, and an array of bike lanes and trails sprinkled throughout the city, Surrey offers residents an arrestingly beautiful landscape with all of the amenities of a bustling city.
Surry attracts over 1,000 new residents every month and is currently the second largest city behind Vancouver in the province. However, it is expected to become the largest city, surpassing Vancouver in the next ten years. With two border crossings to the United States, and a $15 billion a year in trade with its neighbor, Surrey is in a prime location for local, national, and international business.
As business opportunities in Surrey increase, and the population continues its steady climb, the city’s tremendous growth looks to continue for many years to come.
Red Deer, Alberta
At the heart of the strongest economy in Canada, the Red Deer corridor invites those looking for strong investment opportunities. This perfect blend of country and city life makes our list for its revitalization efforts, economic stability, and its location as the main commercial and retail center for all of Central Alberta. As a halfway point between Edmonton and Calgary, Red Deer is perfectly situated to become Canada’s best location for real estate investments.
Businesses in the Red Deer region benefit from several competitive advantages: low operating costs, the lowest combined tax and utility rates in Canada, and access to key markets. It’s a vibrant and culturally diverse place to work and live supported by a young, industrious, and educated population.
Red Deer offers a lifestyle with all of the advantages of the city, but without the traffic. Boasting a booming rental and real estate market, as well as localized job growth, Red Deer will continue to attract people from across the province.
Six issues at the top of tax and finance leaders’ agenda
New Deloitte research reveals that tax leaders are under increasing pressure to add strategic value as companies accelerate business model transformation, from undergoing digital transformations to rethinking their supply chains or investing in green initiatives.
According to Phil Mills, Deloitte Global Tax & Legal Leader, to “truly deliver value to the business, the tax function needs to rethink its resourcing model and transform its technology infrastructure to create capacity and control costs”.
And the good news, according to Mills, is that tax and business leaders have more options at their disposal to achieve this.
Reflecting the insights of global tax and finance executives at global companies, Deloitte’s Tax Operations in Focus study reveals the six issues at the top of tax and finance leaders’ agenda.
Trend 1: Businesses seek more strategic counsel from tax
Companies are being pushed to develop new digital products and distribution channels and accelerate sustainable transformation and this is taking them into uncharted tax territory. Tax leaders say their teams must have the resources and skills to give deeper advisory support on digital business models (65%), supply chain restructuring (49%) and sustainability (48%) over the next two years. This means redrawing the boundaries of what tax professionals focus on, and accelerating adoption of advanced technologies and lower-cost resourcing models to meet compliance requirements and free up time.
According to Joanne Walker, Group Tax Director, BT Group PLC, "There’s still a heavy compliance load today, but the vision for the future would be that much of that falls away, and tax people become subject matter experts who help program the machine, ensure quality control, and redirect their time to advisory activity.”
Trend 2: Tipping point for resourcing models
Business partnering demands in the tax department are on the rise, but 93% of tax leaders say their department’s budget is remaining flat or falling. To ensure that the tax function can redefine itself as a strategic function at the pace that is required, leaders are choosing to move increasing amounts of compliance and reporting to a combination of shared service centers, finance departments, and outsourcing providers that have invested in best-in-class technology.
Trend 3: Digital tax administration is moving faster than expected
in addition to the rising focus of the corporate tax department partnering with their business counterparts, transformative changes to the way companies share tax information with revenue authorities is also creating an imperative to modernize operations at a faster pace. Nine in 10 (92%) respondents say that shifting revenue authority demands on digital tax administration will have a moderate or high impact on tax operations and resources over the next five years—and several heads of tax said the trend is moving faster than expected.
"It’s really stepped up in the last couple of years," says Anna Elphick, VP Tax, Unilever. "Tax authorities don't just want a faster turnaround for compliance but access into a company’s systems. It's not unreasonable to think that in a much shorter time than we expect, compliance will be about companies reviewing a return that's been drafted by the tax authorities."
Trend 4: Data simplification and lower-cost resourcing are top priorities
Tax leaders said that simplifying data management (53%) and moving to lower-cost resourcing models (51%) must be prioritized if tax is to become more proactive at delivering strategic insights to the business. Many tax teams are ensuring that they have a seat at the table as ERP systems are overhauled, which is paying dividends: 56% of those that have introduced NextGen ERP systems are now highly effective at supporting the business with scenario-modeling insights. Only 35% of those with moderate to low use of NextGen ERP systems said the same.
At Stryker, “we automated the source P&L process for transfer pricing which took a huge burden off of the divisions," says David Furgason, Vice President Tax. "Then we created a transfer price database to deposit and retrieve data so we have limited impact on the divisions. We are moving to a single ERP platform which will help us make take the next step with robotics.”
Trend 5: Skillsets are shifting
Embedding a new data infrastructure and redesigning processes are critical for the future tax vision. Tax leaders are aligned — data skills (45%) and technology process experience (43%) are ‘must have’ skills in a tax department of the future, but more traditional tax specialist knowledge also remains key (40%). The trick to success will be in tax leaders facilitating the way these professionals, with their different backgrounds, can work together collectively to unlock lasting value.
Take Infineon Technologies, which formed a VAT technology and governance group "that has the right knowledge about how to change the system to ensure it generates the right reports", according to Matthias Schubert, Global Head of Tax. "Involving them early was key as we took a greenfield approach, so we could think about what the optimal processes would look like and how more intelligent systems could make an impact
Trend 6: 2020 brought productivity improvements
Improved productivity (50%) and accelerating shifts to remote working (48%) were cited as the biggest operational benefits to emerge from COVID-19-driven disruption. But, as 78% of leaders now plan to embed either hybrid or fully remote models in the tax function long term, 34% say maintaining productivity benefits is a top concern. And, as leaders think about building their talent pipeline and strengthening advisory skill sets, 47% say they must prioritize new approaches to talent recognition and career development over the next two years, while 36% say new processes for involving tax in business strategy decisions must be established.