Weekly Regional Business Intelligence

Written by Kieran Delamont, Associate Editor, London Inc.

London home sales down in March but competition pushes prices up

The London and St. Thomas Association of Realtors (LSTAR) said London-area home sales in were down in March, but there was enough competition between buyers that the average home price hiked moderately compared to earlier this year. According to data from LSTAR, a total of 636 homes exchanged hands in the region in March, a drop of over 11 per cent compared to the same period a year ago. The number of newly listed properties continued to surge upward, with 1,233 properties coming to market in March, compared to 1,024 in February and 873 in January. “For LSTAR, this was the March with the lowest number of home sales in the last decade, partly because of the statutory holiday Good Friday, which fell at the end of the month this year, and not in April, as usual," said 2024 LSTAR board chair Kathy Amess. “However, the number of new listings was in line with the association’s ten-year average for the month of March,” she added.


The upshot: We’re not sure the placement of Good Friday is really much of a factor here, but what we do know is that trends in London real estate market (and elsewhere in the country) continue to be tough to predict ― and interesting to watch. One area of relevance to everyone is price. The average home price for the entire LSTAR jurisdiction (in addition to London, the catchment area takes in Strathroy, St. Thomas and portions of Middlesex and Elgin counties) saw a healthy month-over-month bump in March ― to $646,155 from $617,790 in February. This might not be noteworthy on its own, as the spring market is usually accompanied by upward pressure on prices, but it also comes just as the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp. released its 2024 Housing Market Outlook yesterday, which is predicting national housing prices could reach a new record by 2026, driven by unrelenting demand from a growing population.

Read more: LSTAR | CMHC

CAMI Ingersoll fires back up after six-month hiatus

After a lengthy six-month layoff, GM workers are back on shift at the CAMI BrightDrop EV plant in Ingersoll. Around 900 workers went back to work on two-week rotations starting last week. The plant’s new 400,000-square-foot battery module opened last week as well, with 200 workers employed there. “It’s great to finally welcome people back,” said Mike Van Boekel, plant chair for Unifor Local 88. “It has been a long haul; everyone is very relieved.” The plant had been shut down due to delays in the battery supply for the two versions of the BrightDrop van the plant produces. The plant still isn’t at full capacity, but Van Boekel told CTV they expect to reach that point by the end of the year.


The upshot: There have been plenty of worrying signals in the broader EV market over the past couple of weeks as automakers here, there and everywhere rethink EV investments amid sagging consumer demand. Supply chains have played a part in this ― it’s what shut down CAMI for six months after all ― so the new battery module should help on that front at CAMI. Plus, the general consensus (for now) is that the market for commercial delivery EVs will remain strong with demand for last-mile delivery expected to climb 78 per cent globally by 2030 and delivery companies looking to reduce both fuel costs and emissions.   

Read more: CTV News London | London Free Press

To free or not to free, that is the question

The city’s free parking initiative in the downtown core officially expired on Monday, but on Tuesday city council signaled that it was open to a partial extension for the program as downtown businesses continue to struggle with post-Covid recovery and stubborn social issues. The program offered two hours of free parking for drivers using the Honk mobile app (with the code ‘CORE’) to try to incentivize trips downtown. Businesses in the downtown and OEV neighbourhoods would now like to see the program extended, and council appeared willing to play ball to an extent ― they directed city staff to bring back a report that would look at the cost of providing one hour of free on-street parking and/or extending the free parking code for municipal lots in OEV. (City staff estimate the program cost the city around $2.6 million in lost parking revenue.) “This is a step back from the overall program, and I want to continue to step back from it, because at some point parking needs to pay for parking,” said Deputy Mayor Shawn Lewis. “If we can find a reasonable source of funding, I’ll support doing that for this year.”


The upshot: Yes, we understand that at some point the tap needs to be clamped down on all pandemic-born incentives. But let’s get real here: among a laundry list of other operational challenges, core businesses have been/are/will be enduring BRT construction havoc with no business relief assistance whatsoever. So perhaps an allowance for a couple of hours of free parking should have gone into those BRT financing plans in the first place. As Recker Art owner Jason Recker told the London Free Press, the challenges facing downtown run far deeper than a little free parking. “There’s already so much going against it. We’ve got to take down all the barriers as much as possible, getting people to come downtown.” 

Read more: CTV News London | London Free Press

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Neogen Corporation expands Canadian presence with London office

Michigan-based food testing and animal healthcare company Neogen Corporation has opened a 7,000-square-foot office on Woodcock Street, near Fanshawe Park and Hyde Park roads in the city’s northwest, as it expands its Canadian operations. Neogen first entered the Canadian market in 2019 with the acquisition of a lab in Edmonton, and in 2022 it acquired 3M’s Food Safety business. “The growth of Neogen’s food safety business, coupled with the acquisition of the former 3M Food Safety division in September 2022, greatly increased our need for an additional physical workplace to run our commercial and logistics operation,” said Neogen Canada manager Jorge Arroyo. The facility will be home to training facilities, a commercial office and an instrument service centre.


The upshot: Neogen’s main business in Canada is serving Canadian cattle producers. The company said that the establishment of the office is meant to “accelerate the growth of the company’s bovine genomics business.” The location will give the company a presence in Central and Eastern Canada, in addition to its existing lab in Alberta. Neogen vice president of the Americas, Dr. Jason Lilly, said that the office will “operate in tandem with our established genomics laboratory” in Edmonton, and will “enhance our ability to provide best-in-class service and support to our food diagnostic customers” in Ontario and Eastern Canada. 

Read more: LEDC | Neogen

Esam Group answers back regarding Beaverbrook traffic concerns

A billion-dollar development proposal that could eventually add 3,800 units to the Oxford Street and Wonderland Road area has lots of people around the city talking. But can the city’s roads handle it? That’s the question being asked after a traffic report from the developer suggested that the Esam Group development, called the Beaverbrook Community, would add upwards of 1,700 vehicles per day to the area. That number is raising eyebrows, though the developer is keen to downplay concerns. “What we’re proposing is reasonable,” said Esam Group principal Jacob Katz. “If you dropped 1,000 cars into Kilworth it would be noticeable, but at Oxford and Wonderland there are tens of thousands of cars a day and it will not be.” The developers are citing a report by engineering firm TYLin, submitted alongside their development application, which concluded that “traffic from the proposed development can be accommodated by the boundary road network and can accommodate the proposed development traffic demands.”


The upshot: While the developer’s engineering firm has its opinion, it will ultimately rest with the city’s transportation division to take a deep dive into what the potential impact would be, and that work is still ongoing. The key piece will likely be transit. A development of this size, located as it is along a transit corridor, is exactly what the city says it wants in terms of housing intensification proposals, so the onus falls on the city to make sure people can move in and out of the proposed neighbourhood (it’s probably worth a mention that the previous city council killed the BRT line that would have run between downtown and Wonderland Road). “They want intensification along major corridors and this is the right fit,” said London Home Builders’ Association executive Jared Zaifman. “It makes best use of land and infrastructure. It’s along a major transit corridor, it checks all the boxes.”

Read more: London Free Press

Rock the Park gets green light for additional night

Rock the Park is getting a fifth night this year, after council approved the festival’s ask this week. Effectively, it will allow the festival to run a Sunday evening in addition to its usual four-day schedule. The festival doesn’t have headliners for the fifth night yet, but said they are planning a country night. “In a downtown that is struggling to recover, I think another day of an economic injection down there for the local businesses is something that is needed,” said Mayor Josh Morgan.


The upshot: It was nearly a unanimous vote of support for the festival’s ask in its 20th anniversary year, but not quite, with two council members ― David Ferreira and Sam Trosow ― voting against it, citing the complaints of residents nearby. “I hear too many complaints. I hear complaints even in my own neighbourhood,” said Trosow. “People should not have to deal with that for five nights.” Dissenters aside, it’s not the first time festival organizer Jones Entertainment Group has sought and received an extension of the festival, so there’s precedent here: it made similar requests approved by council in 2015, 2017 and 2022.

Read more: CBC News London | London Free Press

Dispatch: April 5, 2024

A summary of recent business appointments and announcements, plus event listings for the upcoming week.

View listings here


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