Condo uptick in Winnipeg

The changing groups behind the demand for condos in Winnipeg

Within the mid 2010s, condo construction spiked in Winnipeg. Many different groups of consumers and different types of condos are behind this.

Kevin McDougald has lived in a condo unit in a nine-story building near the Grant Park Shopping Centre since 2001. He says he’s enjoyed the experience, despite some downsides over the years.

One drawback McDougald makes note of is the occasional heated dispute between condominium association board members.

One instance he recalls was a conflict over whether to allow hedges at the condo. He says “things got so wacky” that one board member went knocking on unit doors in the condo building to gain support for their side and put pressure on an opposing board member. The opposing board member, McDougald notes, was not pleased with this.

McDougald says reasonable prices, the fact that owners don’t need to do much maintenance and secured entrances (which often make break-ins trickier and less likely) can make condos alluring. “Plus I live on the seventh floor, so the view is very nice from up there,” he adds.

The Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) measures housing starts, which are marks of when construction begins for houses in the Winnipeg Census Metropolitan Area (CMA). The CMA includes Winnipeg and some surrounding areas.

According to a 2017 CMHC report for the Winnipeg CMA, there was significant condo building from 2012 to 2015. In 2011 there were 513 starts, which jumped to 1035 starts in 2012. By 2015, condo starts levelled off, falling below the thousands.

Heather Bowyer is a senior market analyst with the CMHC in Winnipeg.

“There is a lot of (condo building) activity in the southwestern area of the city, “ Bowyer says. She says downtown Winnipeg is another part of the city experiencing considerable condo building.

Two projects in Winnipeg that will increase the condo stock in Winnipeg are the Jubilee Winnipeg, formerly The Yards at Fort Rouge, and True North Square developments. Jubilee Winnipeg is scheduled to be completed this year. It was approved by Winnipeg City Council in 2010 and is near a stretch of the Southwest Rapid Transit Corridor. True North Square, scheduled to be finished by 2020, is in downtown Winnipeg and will include 130 condo units.

Blair Sonnichsen is president of the WinnipegREALTORS Association. He believes reasonable monthly utility costs, low maintenance and proximity to public transportation are drawing people to the condo market.
The CMHC notes that condos are a type of ownership, rather than a specific building type. This means there are many types of condos aside from high-rise, apartment-style condos.

Sonnichsen notes that different types of condos include apartment-style condos, townhouse-style condos and bungalow condos. He says townhouse-style condos can attract young families, bungalow condos often attract retiring families, and apartment-style condos tend to attract single people and “empty-nesters”, as well as other groups.

McDougald, who is in his 40s, says he’s noticed a shift in the demographics in the high-rise condo building he lives in.

“We’re also seeing some younger people moving in. When I first moved in, it was three-quarters seniors in that building, probably. There are still some around, but we’ve also seen some younger people move in and some single, middle-aged professionals,” he says.

“We have a very balanced market,” Sonnichsen says.

Published in Volume 72, Number 4 of The Uniter (September 28, 2017)

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