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Canadian gas prices fall as crude oil continues slide

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Canadian drivers are seeing the lowest prices for gasoline in months, as a slump in the price of crude oil has hit gas stations.

The price of the North American crude oil benchmark known as West Texas Intermediate is hovering at just over $56 a barrel on Thursday, a drop of more than $20 since the start of October.

While a variety of factors go into the price that Canadians pay at the pump, the underlying price of crude oil is one of the most important, which is why the slowdown in oil is filtering down to gas pumps.

According to GasBuddy.com, prices dropped by four cents a litre in Ontario on Wednesday evening. Quebec saw the same decline a day earlier. In New Brunswick, P.E.I. and Nova Scotia the drop was 3.2 cents, on average.

Out West, the decline is even more pronounced in some places.

“Western Canada will see a two cent a litre decrease,” said Dan McTeague, senior petroleum analyst for the price-comparing site. “That’s everything except for Vancouver and the Lower Mainland [because] in Vancouver they are waking up to a six cent a litre decrease.”

According to Bloomberg data, across the country, the average price for a litre of gasoline was 114.82 cents on Thursday. That’s the lowest it’s been since February.

Other fuel blends are feeling the pinch even more than West Texas Intermediate. Much of the gasoline used in Eastern Canada is priced off of Brent crude, which has recently fallen to just over $65 US a barrel, its lowest level since April. But virtually all types of oil are seeing price declines, and none more so than the type that comes from Western Canada.

The heavier blend of oil extracted from Alberta’s oilsands is known as Western Canada Select (WCS), and a barrel of that was going for its lowest level on record Thursday — just over $14 US a barrel.

The reason is a lack of pipeline capacity — a problem the industry has complained about for years but is becoming more acute. Oil producers can’t find ways of moving their product out of Alberta to refineries, which has created a glut that’s led to record-low prices for WCS.

The Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers says the price gap between U.S. and Canadian oil is so dramatic, it has cost the Canadian economy $13 billion so far this year — or roughly $50 million a day

The CEO of oilsands producer Cenovus Energy said this week the situation is an “emergency” that warrants government intervention.

One of the ideas being floated would be for the government to implement OPEC-style production quotas, where individual companies are limited to only producing a certain amount of oil in an attempt to get prices up.

It’s an idea that’s drawing a lot of criticism, but it’s not unprecedented. Peter Lougheed’s Alberta government briefly attempted something similar in the 1980s.

“The government  has tools to deal with this,” Cenovus CEO Alex Pourbaix said. “It’s temporary but a very acute situation.”

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Real Estate

Montreal real-estate prices climbing much faster than Toronto or Vancouver: study

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MONTREAL — The cost of housing per square foot has skyrocketed in Montreal while other cities saw little change over the last year, according to a new national survey.

The study found that condominium prices in downtown Montreal are up 13.5 per cent from last year to, on average, $805 per square foot.

That’s not as high as other cities, but it’s catching up — and Montreal’s rate of growth is outpacing other major Canadian cities.

Toronto’s condo prices grew to $1083 per square foot, an increase of just under 10 per cent, according to the study. In Vancouver, where you can find some of Canada’s most expensive condo prices, rates are down 4 per cent to $1192 per square foot.

To make the comparisons, Canadian real estate giant Century 21 collected data from real estate boards across the country to calculate the home costs per square foot.

“It’s important to compare apple to apples,” said Todd Shyiak, the company’s vice president of operations.

Montreal’s rise was even more explosive for detached homes and townhouses.

Detached houses in Montreal’s downtown and southwest rose to $958 per square foot, 40 per cent up from last year.

“It’s wild,” said Century 21 broker Angela Langtry. She says the pandemic raised demand.

“People had a lot of time to figure out they don’t like the home they’re in,” she said. “They all want pools.”

There was a big spike in sales, she noted, following a pause in brokerage during the spring, at the peak of the pandemic.

Experts say the pandemic will push people into the suburbs as they search for affordable housing and home office space.

“A huge portion of our society’s housing needs changed overnight,” said Shyiak. People “no longer need to be 10 minutes from the office.”

He says that could mean less demand for condos in the future. “People want their own front door,” he said.

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Carttera buys prime downtown Montreal development site

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Carttera has acquired a prime downtown Montreal site at 1455 De La Montagne St. which will mark its third development on the thoroughfare.

“We think it’s probably one of the best, if not the best, locations in the whole city,” Carttera founding partner Jim Tadeson told RENX. “We’ve had great success on De La Montagne.”

The two earlier projects are: L’Avenue, a building with 393 residential units, 84,000 square feet of office space and 34,000 square feet of retail that was developed with Broccolini and occupied in 2017; and Arbora Residences, a two-phase development with 434 rental and condominium units in three buildings being built in partnership with Oxford Properties.

Thursday’s latest acquisition, for $48.5 million from 630745 Ontario, is a 31,750-square-foot surface parking lot with flexible mixed-use zoning on the corner of De La Montagne and De Maisonneuve Boulevard West.

The site is near the Vogue Hotel Montreal Downtown, the new Four Seasons Hotel Montreal and high-end retail.

“It’s zoned for up to 203,000 square feet of density, which we’re going to take advantage of,” said Tadeson. “Our vision for the site is a condominium project with some retail.”

Since there is no demolition required and no heritage issues to contend with, Toronto-based Carttera plans to move ahead quickly with the luxury project.

It’s in the concept design phase and Tadeson said it could take six months or more before it’s prepared to make a submission to the city.

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Montreal Has the Hottest Real Estate Market in Canada Right Now

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If you thought Toronto’s real estate market was on fire, it’s time for a second take, because the market in Montreal is the hottest in all of Canada right now.

A newly-released annual report from CENTURY 21 Canada reveals that, following an early-spring decline due to the COVID-19 pandemic, sales numbers are bouncing back and house prices across the country are maintaining their strength. The study compared the price per square foot of properties sold between January 1 and June 30 of this year, compared to the same period last year.

In Toronto and Vancouver, unsurprisingly, prices remain high. But while regions across the country are seeing varied stories when it comes to their housing market fluctuations, Montreal stands out — there, prices have increased dramatically since 2019. While the numbers remain lower than Toronto and Vancouver, that housing market is proving to be the country’s strongest right now.

In Quebec’s largest city, prices have increased significantly since last year, particularly in the downtown detached house and townhouse markets. For example, the price of a detached house in Montreal’s downtown and southwest rose 42.14% to $958 per square foot, while townhouses went up 44% to $768, and condos, 13.55% to $805. Comparatively, in Toronto and Vancouver, prices saw more modest increases or, in some cases, even declines.

“Even though real estate in Quebec was not considered an essential service, we have seen strong demand and a jump in prices in 2020,” said Mohamad Al-Hajj, owner of CENTURY 21 Immo-Plus in Montreal.

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