Sneak Preview

Annie Bergeron
Design Principal

Real Estate market due to COVID related economic uncertainty.

Hope for a vaccine so we can get back to normal.

Méka Brunel
Chief Executive Officer

Faced with the coronavirus crisis, we have maintained our business by continuing the transformation of the company. Gecina has shown resilience thanks to the quality and centrality of its assets. We continued to develop our assets and took a decisive step with the subsidiarization of our residential portfolio. And we are continuing our B2B2C shift through the deployment of YouFirst, our relational and service brand.

The crisis has accelerated the impact of three major trends: the metropolitanisation; the digital revolution and the climate emergency. Climate change is one of the biggest challenges. Our real estate industry has a historic opportunity to accelerate its environmental transformation. The recovery must also be inclusive. The diversity of profiles is a formidable lever for fostering innovation and the global challenges we face. 

Nathalie Charles
Global Head
Investment Management
BNP Paribas Real Estate

The lockdown was the greatest challenge. Leading a company "at distance", over the phone and then through visio was really something new I was not prepared for!

2021 will be tough and at the same time, full of exciting opportunities - as always during crisis.

Hugh Clark
Executive Vice President
Allied REIT

Having visibility into how work was proceeding while working from home and in an ever evolving condition.

Yes, I am looking forward to a return to normalcy. We can live with new norms, so long as they are consistent. 

Gord Cook
Executive Vice President
Colliers International 

To break routine that was engrained in 30 years of work life. COVID has required everyone to adapt and change.

Embracing a virtual work (and social) environment is critical to our new economy.

Staying Positive with family, friends and clients!

Low interest and Government intervention has helped business and individuals. 2021 will see the impacts of reduced consumption, unemployment and less economic output. This will lessen demand for space in most asset classes. As an advisor I see opportunity to grow new business lines with key partners. 

John Crombie
Executive Managing Director
Retail Services, Canada
Cushman & Wakefield ULC

For our retail services platform at C&W, I was in the process of implementing many new strategic initiatives and growth plans for the firm but with COVID-19, many of these priorities were obviously delayed and/or altered. 

That said, the challenge was a chance to refocus on key business fundamentals, determine new ways to provide "real time" insights to our clients, an opportunity to reallocate limited resources as well as re-tooling the retail business line to face the new realities. I believe this self reflection on our business during COVID will make us stronger going forward.

With the impact of ecommerce and changing consumer demands, the retail industry in 2021 and beyond will undergo a radical transformation and renaissance that will have a material shift for shopping centre real estate and designs of physical stores for retailers. 

With change - comes opportunity! At minimum, it's a unique chance to reimagine different ways to reposition retail real estate to better serve the shopper of tomorrow! Retail is certainly NOT dead, only evolving with the changes and shifts in consumer preferences! Long Live Retail!

Richard Diamond
Senior Vice President

Trying to assess the risk we are facing, without having had an experience with such matters in the past. 

Continued uncertainty within the general economy and a few fundamental real estate questions that still need to be answered, but not sure we will have answers in 2021, such as decisions on how the office fits into compannies' plans and how the downtown condo/apartment market will evolve.

Brad Divins
Vice President
Senior Transaction Manager
Wells Fargo

The greatest challenge I faced this year is managing Transactions, relationships and projects remotely. The learning curve on technology and video conferencing capabilities was steep but enable business to continue. 

I see much of the same in the first half of 2021 with remote working and collaborating being done via technology. The main concern in the first half of the year is availability of cash given a marked slow down in business revenue. The 2nd half will be determined by how quickly business picks up and if a vaccine is readily available to the masses.

Casey Gallagher
Executive Vice President
CBRE Limited

Planning. Making everyday life decisions are challenging enough in normal times and the lack of reliable intel in support of assured decision-making presents significant challenges. From a business perspective, while CRE brokerage is often erratic, the onset of COVID-19 and the ensuing concerns over the direction of the global economy has added substantial risk to otherwise well-informed planning and decision-making.

Uncertainty. My outlook for the balance of 2020 is erratic with rising COVID challenges creating market gyrations that fluctuate with greater frequency. Accompanying this global health crises is a divisive election in the U.S., a major trade war with China and a movement toward nationalism that gains momentum across many developed nations. That these issues are underway simultaneously is wildly concerning. Early 2021 will see a euphoric response to the announcement of vaccines and treatments for the COVID virus with positivity surrounding implementation being offset by the significant economic repercussions stemming from the 2020 shutdowns.

Andrew Garrett
Senior Principal, Real Estate
IMCO (Ontario Pensions)

Our greatest challenge was balancing the wellbeing of many stakeholders in safely closing down and reopening more than 10 million sq. ft. of enclosed shopping centres across Canada. We value our relationships with our tenants and managers in these difficult and uncertain times. At the same time as stewards of government pension plan funds we have a duty to pay monthly pensions and all the costs of property ownership. 

In 2021, we are building a strong real estate investment team that has the unique opportunity to co-invest over $2B globally with dynamic partners building the next generation of core real estate.

I see an opportunity to benefit from projects built in growing global city centres that are forced to be designed with more progressive thought towards safety, sustainability, and collaboration due to the COVID crisis experience. I see more partnerships/mergers between industry leaders as there is an accelerated convergence between live, work, and play spaces.

I see a wide variance in the recovery of various businesses as firms who rely on mostly cost cutting falling behind those who rebuild better by leveraging technology that provides a bespoke customer experience.

Jane Gavan
President, Asset Management

Naturally COVID -  managing people and a business through the most prolonged uncertainty of our careers, has been exceedingly challenging. In a matter of months, paradigms like urbanization and densification very quickly came under scrutiny making capital allocation decisions much more difficult. At the same time, effectively engaging people, whether team members or other stakeholders, has required considerable adaptation in a work-from-home environment.

I can imagine much more focus in Canada, akin to what has been happening in Europe for years, on how real estate is positioned to not only mitigate environmental impact, but how it purposefully contributes to social benefit. ESG will increasingly become table stakes for investment.

Chris Holtved
Senior Portfolio Manager
HOOPP Real Estate

Working with our team to ensure our team culture and enagagement remained strong during the extended work from home period.

If near zero interest rates persist, a material rotation from bonds into real assets that provide yield to investors, including real estate.

Sal Iacono
Executive Vice President
The Cadillac Fairview Corporation

COVID had a tremendous impact on the operations of close to 36 million sq. ft. of retail and office properties across Canada for Cadillac Fairview. All aspects from operations/front line property staff management, physical property closings/re-openings challenges, implementation of safety practices, dealing with tenant issues, lack of office occupancy and rent collection to dealing with general impacts on retail tenants/industry along with sometimes complex government operating restrictions and support programs (CECRA).

Unfortunately, we see ongoing COVID waves and ongoing restrictions that will continue to hamper the recovery of office occupancy and mall traffic/sales. We don't expect full lock-downs as in 2020, but we will muddle along until there is an effective and widely distributed vaccine hopefully by end of 2021.

Lou Iafrate
Executive Vice President
Altus Group

Implementing effective and efficient communication processes (and tools) needed to actualize the new "virtual" workplace and sustain group dynamics. Understanding and adapting to the communication challenges (both internal and external) was critical in order to manage our workflow, execute on strategy and sustain corporate culture.

A more dynamic and evolved "office" workplace that can operate either virtually or in traditional settings as we start going back to the office in the latter half of 2021. Longer term, the need to insulate our economy from similar destabilizing events in a post pandemic world will reshape how we use real estate with the brunt of that change to be shouldered by office and retail assets...

Colin Johnston
Research, Valuation
& Advisory, Canada
Altus Group

Valuations during this pandemic have been very challenging. At first there was a lack of liquidity, ie, no trades to use as benchmarks. Then there were a few transactions, but many people questioned if they were truly market, and not just distressed sales. Some clients and market participants felt that we were discounting values too much and too soon, some felt the exact opposite. While the industrial and multi-res markets appear to have stabilized, much of retail remains in a freefall, while the disconnect between economic occupancy (tenants paying their full rent) and physical occupancy (using very little of their space) in the office market will take time to fully play out. The job of all valuers is to reflect the market, not set the market. In 2020, that has been harder than ever!

Unfortunately, I anticipate that the impact of this pandemic will take time to play out in 2021.

How many retailers will still be there post-Christmas season? Will there be a vaccine, and will people return to the office in a meaningful way? Are the film, fitness, fashion and food (restaurants) industries structurally changed going forward? Hotels and seniors' housing - what's the future look like in terms of their operating models? Will immigration come back and stimulate the multi-family sector? So many questions, so little clarity.

Rob Kumer
Chief Investment Officer
KingSett Capital

Through "peak panic" in Apirl and May of 2020, our biggest challenge was protecting KingSett's culture. KingSett is a business built on relationships - both internal and external. When our people are stuck in isolation, focusing on remaining positive, engaged and collaborative becomes the #1 challenge and priority.

2021 will be a slow return to a life that in large part resembles what we knew life to be in 2019. I have no doubt we will face serious operational headwinds in retail, office and some industrial assets. We will have tenants that struggle, leasing will be slow, financing may be scarce. However, my fundamental view is that, once people feel safe, human nature will revert us back to a normal experience - largely working in offices, eating in restaurants, seeing movies in theatres. The key objective will be to make sure we have a good strategy and our team works hard each day to execute that strategy. The market itself is uncontrollable so we need to be laser focused on doing everything we can to outperform - not an easy task but we're up for it.

Anthony Lanni
Executive Vice President
QuadReal Property Group

The greatest challenge that I faced in 2020 was managing the very near-term impacts of COVID on a national portfolio, while ensuring that employee and resident safety was (and remains) the priority.

In the face of uncertain pandemic impacts, I came away with a renewed appreciation for the strength of our operating teams and the quality of management across our organization.

For 2021, I see continued challenges as a result of COVID across asset classes. These challenges will continue to impact occupancy, rental rates capital spending and development pipelines.

We are in this for the long haul, and as we settle into the new normal of operating under pandemic conditions, we continue to investigate new ways to deliver strong occupancy and service excellence.

Ash Lawrence
Managing Director
Brookfield Asset Management

Interestingly, I would say the biggest challenge was not the impact of the Coronavirus itself or our own ability to adapt operations to keep people safe, but rather having to interpret the many different and sometimes conflicting pieces of advice and guidance from Government on regulations, Coronavirus safety precautions, and steps to re-open our buildings and the economy.

2021 will provide better clarity on the path forward then we saw in 2020 so yes, I'm looking forward to 2021. We can see that significant progress on both therapeutic and vaccine development will continue through the end of 2020 and into 2021 with hopeful estimations that new products will filter through the healthcare distribution system mid to end of the year. There will still be significant economic pain in the first half of the year, much of which has simply been delayed by this year due to government support and accommodating lenders. Wile painful, this process will also clear the decks for a recovery assuming the Government can execute a clear and focused spending/stimulus plan and wrap up the "support" spending. 

Rachel MacCleery
Senior Vice President
Urban Land Institute

The greatest challenges that my team and I faced this year was adapting to the pandemic and addressing its effects in our work, as well as incorporating lessons and insights from this summer's movement for racial justice. My team rapidly adjusted to remote work, but the overall adjustment to our focus areas and our priorities took more time and consideration. Personally, I have a 4 year old at home (along with older kids) and he has been in virtual school since March. That has created all sorts of challenges of its own. Caregivers have perhaps never been more stretched.

I am hopeful that the grave challenges of 2020 will set the stage for meaningful progress on issues which have plagued America for generations. There is growing recognition of the costs of systemic racism and inequality, the fraying of the social safety net, the importance of public health and health care. I think people want change, and are willing to work for it. Within the real estate industry, I believe we are witnessing a great awakening, and I think that is exciting.

Lachlan MacQuarrie
Real Estate Executive
Self Employed

Other than working with a team to anticipate both the significant exodus of occupants from our assets during COVID-19, to figuring out how to accommodate occupants as they possibly returned to the workplace or shopping centre - my biggest challenge was leaving Oxford after 10 years. Having built a significant presence at Oxford , and with much success, to starting fresh... The challenge of reinventing requires careful thought, planning and skillful execution. 

I look forward to a new role for me in 2021, but I also look forward to the return of innovation, a return to strategic planning, and a return to success for our industry.

Brian McCauley
President & CEO
Concert Properties Ltd.

Uncertainty. Firstly with the rapid arrival of COVID-19, none of knew whether this would be with us for a short of long time. Well seven months in, it's obvious that the "new normal" will be in fact be uncertainty.

As we look forward we are no longer gearing up for a marathon and but know we will have to be agile and resilient as we work through a long, long recovery.

Blair McCreadie
Head of Canadian Real Estate
& Fund Manager
Fiera Real Estate

Without question the biggest challenge was dealing with the unknown. The term unprecedented has been overused but it is unquestionably the most appropriate description. Fiera Real Estate has been growing at a rapid pace for a number of years which has included platform M&A's as well as an ever expanding team and enhancements to the platform. Dealing with the day-to-day operation at the outset of the pandemic was relatively easy with the established systems we had in place. However, keeping our culture alive and well during this crisis has been tough on everyone. Our team has grown to about 55 people in Canada in three separate offices. After several challenging months with a remote work environment, I can confidently state that we have the best team in real estate!

Things are stabilizing. Our platform is stronger than ever. We continue to have strong performance in our 11 Canadian real estate and debt strategies. We are constantly innovating both in terms of our investment process and analytics but also in expanding investment solutions for our widening investor client base. 

We are looking forward to the challenges of 2021 even though it is unclear how the year will look from an economic standpoint. In general, real estate is performing well but there are cracks. Retail assets were already facing headwinds coming into the crisis while the new work-from-home model is clearly going to impact the office sector. Many believe that in the short to medium term the office market will at best be flat. Tenants will have less people in the office but more space will be needed to accommodate physical distancing.

On the other end of the spectrum, we have multi-residential and industrial. The former is facing some near term challenges with lower immigration and high unemployment but we believe a recovery and continued growth will occur as immigration returns and businesses begin hiring people back. The obvious winner is industrial. Increased e-commerce is a forgone conclusion. At record low interest rates consumers continue to buy and the normal pattern will be remotely. Industrial assets which are used to distribute goods will continue to benefit but its also important to note that as residential development grows, so does the need for 'service industrial' space. For example, the home improvement and construction industry is generally always housed in very well located industrial buildings. The real estate industry is not without its challenges however as there are record numbers of residential and commercial loans on payment deferral and lenders will need to address the implications on their balance sheets. This is likely to impact the market. There will be investment opportunities coming out of these challenging times. In the end, real estate, no matter how it is perceived, is critical to economic growth as enterprise will always need a roof.

Paul-Emile McNab
Director, Business Development
& Strategic Initiatives
Canadian Council for
Aboriginal Business

Adaptation and learning on the fly. Change can happen quickly, you have to be flexible and never stop learning on the job. Surround yourself with good people and walk the good path. 2020 was a challenging year for many entrepreneurs and businesses, hopefully 2021 will bring a more positive outlook.

Building business relationships built on trust is key to bringing about positive change and foster more economic opportunities for Indigenous businesses, economic development corporations and communities. The work of the Canadian Council for Aboriginal Business has played an important role in identifying the opportunities and challenges with research insights, data and strong policy recommendations to support the advancement of the Indigenous economy. Enhancing economic opportunities through Indigenous procurement will not only advance the Indigenous economy, but will also benefit the Canadian economy and help facilitate economic reconciliation in Canada.

Dennis Mitchell
Chief Executive Officer
Starlight Capital

Raising capital during a global pandemic.

Continued low growth, low inflation, low rates and growth equity leadership.

Paul Mouchakkaa
Managing Partner

Ensuring health and safety of employees while maintaining positivity and productivity.

Opportunities to create innovative solutions to both old and new challenges.

Judith Olson
Donald Bren Professor of Information and Computer Sciences
University of California Irvine

Since I'm retired and living in a "retirement resort," I have not had to face the challenges that others have had. The biggest challenge I witnessed, however, is that of my daughters-in-law, both of whom are employed but now also taking care of their small children at home without relief from nursery school or babysitters.

I believe that many people have discovered that they CAN work from home successfully. I believe, therefore, that once the pandemic is over, there will be a new work style where either some people always work from home, or there is a mix of days when they are at home and days they are in the office.

Amanda O'Rourke
Executive Director
8 80 Cities

Managing and leading a team through so much global change and uncertainty.

The opportunity to really dig deep and work toward systemic change. We need to be able to meet this unprecedented moment for humanity with passion, empathy, and a meaningful commitment to equity. We need a movement toward transformational change for cities and communities that centers human health and well being for all. We can't stand idly by, we have to actively pursue the future that we want.

Allan Perez
Chief Executive Officer
CanFirst Capital Management

Our greatest challenge this year was finding new and innovative ways to continue to manage and grow our business with team members no longer congregating in a central office. This entailed enhanced communication with our team members as well as with our various stakeholders.

I believe that 2021 will look and feel much like 2020, with the major difference being that we will have had the better part of 2020 to prepare ourselves for the new "normal".

Annette Prater
Executive Vice President
Technology & Innovation
Brookfield Properties

2020 - What wasn't a challenge... COVID, unrest in our communities and impact on our properties.

Blue skies ahead! Faster industry changes and adoption of all things contactless and ditigal.

Jose Ribau
Executive Vice President
Digital & Innovation
The Cadillac Fairview Corporation Limited

Dan Sander
Managing Director, Owner
Hollyburn Propeties Ltd. 

COVID-19 - Keeping our staff and residents safe.

CMHC equity restrictions: Worst timing ever for a complete restructure, when the market needs stability, not instability. Many unintended consequences of narrow policy guidelines, including limiting an already marginal opportunity cost for new rental vs. condo.

Strength stability and more interest in multi-family asset class that has out performed all asset classes by a considerable margin.

Tim Sanderson
Executive Vice President

The greatest challenge in 2020 has been to understand the impact of COVID on consumer spending patterns. From a real estate perspective, rent is a direct function of sales, usually a significant portion of a store's overhead. With sales dropping to zero in some categories in March and April and without understanding how sales would rebound after re-opening, it was and remains difficult to project sales and what a retailer can afford to pay in rent.

In 2021, bricks and mortar retail is going to to have to evolve quickly to regain the attention and confidence of the consumer. The longer the lockdowns and shutdowns continue, the greater the propensity of consumers to shift their buying habits online. Retailers need to make the in store buying experience as seamless and painless as the on line experience. Why does anyone ever have to stand in line ever again in a store waiting to make a purchase? The technology is there, it has been for years and retailers need to embrace it.

Peter Senst
President, Canadian Capital Markets
CBRE Limited

Managing the immediate downside observations from owners and investors to help them slowly see through the challenges that lay ahead. We have seen disruption before and this is just a new version of it.

Revenues vs. costs for many businesses. A lot of industries will need to take a hard look at costs as we get into 2021 given the Coronavirus impact across virtually the entire industry.

Tom Sheraden
Executive Vice President
& Chief Technology Officer

COVID-19 without a doubt. But the challenge was broader than simply adapting to a much more virtual & remote work context, it first and foremost demanded that we prioritize ways to ensure the safety and comfort of staff and tenants who cannot choose to work remotely, to ensure the safety and comfort of our residents working more from home and to support our team members to sustain well-being and cultural bonds. We also decided early on to appreciate the catalyst of these times to promote innovation and the acceleration of some key projects. So much made this a uniquely challenging environment although one in which the resiliency of colleagues and our industry has been inspiring.

Challenges to be certain, but opportunities as well. We recognize that the economic and social impacts of 2020 mean the months ahead will be difficult for many of our customers and other stakeholders including those in the communities of which we are a part. To do our part we will have to continue to manage prudently that which we already steward while looking for opportunities to continue to diversify and grow the portfolios we manage. Maintaining and enhancing resiliency is critical. We take these responsibilities very seriously - to BC's pensioners and other clients, our customers, our team members and our communities. I foresee in the future the fundamental priority of these responsibilities and the need to stay as connected as possible.

Dermot Sweeny
Sweeny&Co. Architects Inc.

Managing an Architecture practice from my Dining Room.

Trying to support our favourite Food & Beverage and Retail.

Life with no live performance and much less Arts.

Supporting our Tenants.

Better access to rental accommodation in most desirable areas.

Devistation in local small businesses especially the Arts and Retail/Food & Beverage.

Innovation and creativity making big positive change.

Michael Turner
Oxford Properties Group

All of the stresses - professional and personal - in managing through COVID and in particular from Mid-April until about mid-June.

A grinding, slow motion economy suffering from a lack of policy clarity and poor leadership. At the same time, the economy, society, technology and demographics is going through a great transition.

In 2021, the two trades are the "COVID acceleration" trade, where prior trends accelerated. And we will begin to see the emergence of the "COVID reversal" trade, where some of the norms have been disrupted and that disruption will begin to reverse throughout the year.

Wendy Waters
Vice President
Research Services & Strategy
GWL Realty Advisors

Not letting the urgent completely distract us from what is important. 

More precisely, balancing additional COVID-19 related workload (such as analyzing the present condition, and future of, office buildings) against longer term strategic analysis such as climate change implications for real estate investment strategy.

Over the course of 2021, as a global society, we will become better at living with COVID. It will not be gone, but to most people it will feel less risky to return to perhaps 90% of pre-covid life. Gradually, people will again work at the office, do more shopping in person, and even travel.

Jeremy Wedgbury
Senior Vice President
First National Financial

Maintaining culture in our operations and ensuring that internal communication is consistent and regular such that employees are happy and engaged.

With still much unknown about where COVID goes, we are still very optimistic about new business opportunities given the low interest environment. That said, commercial real estate is now more than any time in recent history a management intensive business that requires experience and creative skills to be successful.