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News release


The Puck Stops Here:  Four Canadian Cities Poised for World-Class Growth and Opportunity

Toronto, Montreal, Calgary and Vancouver take center ice

No longer content to be the United States’ quieter sister, or the United Kingdom’s more demure daughter, Canada is entering a newly energized, globally connected and impactful era.  In particular, its four largest cities—Toronto, Montreal, Vancouver and Calgary—are quietly staging a revolution north of the 49th parallel, emerging from the shadows and onto center ice.  In a land where hockey is the national sport, these urban centers have stepped into the rink and declared the puck stops here.

“As a whole, Canada has long been underestimated and overshadowed, but this quartet of cities is collectively proving to be exceedingly business and investor friendly.  They’re also attractive to new talent and sectors, innovative, and progressive,” said Brett Miller, President of JLL Canada. “Each of these cities offers significant opportunities for international investors as new waves of construction and reinvestment in older stock modernizes them, and sustainable practices and new technologies make them smarter and greener.”

Each has independently nurtured its economic foundation, its urban identity and its global connectivity.  The cities are highly competitive and globally networked, not only in the energy and finance sectors but also in science, technology, medicine, education and the green economy.  

The cities are ranked in the top 25 of the Global Financial Centers Index, which makes Canada the second most competitive system of financial centers in the world.  Economic growth in all four cities is expected to exceed the average growth rate of advanced economies over the next five years, according to JLL’s The Canadian Quartet, Playing on the World Stage [link to report] report, distributed today during the Urban Land Institute’s 2014 Spring Meeting, in Vancouver. The report outlines the promising developments that have catapulted the cities into the spotlight and make them a viable force in commercial real estate.

Adding positive impetus is the intensification of downtown areas, to combine with reverse migration from the suburbs to downtown as one of the most forceful and rapidly emerging secular trends in both corporate office and residential real estate, as noted in Urban Land Institute’s report Emerging Trends in Real Estate 2014.

Toronto – Canada’s Business Metropolis
Toronto is Canada’s most dynamic global city, ranking 6th in all-around performance of Canadian cities versus international counterparts, and 14th in terms of direct commercial real estate volumes. Major banking, life insurance, pension funds and securities firms and supporting industries are the lifeblood of the city economy.

Today, Toronto’s world-class strengths also extend to the medical, life sciences and information and communication technologies (ICT) sectors, and are supporting its emergence as a top-tier enterprise hub; placing 11th in the world in the ‘2think Now’ Innovation Index is a clear indication of the city’s growing strength as an influential technology center.

Montreal - The Cosmopolitan Heart of the Country
After the economic challenge of the 1970’s, the citizens of Montreal revitalized and repositioned the city as Canada’s cosmopolitan and innovative nerve center.  The city now ranks 25th in all-around performance of Canadian cities versus international counter parts, and 45th in terms of direct commercial real estate volumes.

Montreal has its reputation as a creative city with a wide cross-section of media, fashion and design firms.  Those, along with its restaurant, art and nightlife combine to offer a markedly vibrant scene.  The city is also a magnet for American and European retail brands launching their first Canadian location. With more than 200,000 students and a cultural industries workforce larger than Sydney in Australia, Montreal is alone in the northern half of North America for having a visible late-night Mediterranean culture.

The success of Montreal’s higher education outstrips that of its domestic rivals and is amongst the strongest in North America, while its research and development cost incentives are also world-leading. This provides a strong link to future real estate opportunities since Universities serve as a focal point for emerging development.

Vancouver - The West Coast Gem
Transitioning from a resource-based economy to a transnationally-oriented service economy has made Vancouver the West Coast Gem.  The city ranks 5th in all-round performance of Canadian cities versus international counterparts, and 36th in terms of direct commercial real estate volumes.

Vancouver’s liveability is premised on open-ness, pluralism, lifestyle, luxury and sustainability. The city’s ‘Greenest City 2020 Action Plan’ is focused on making Vancouver’s environmental footprint as globally impressive as its liveability, and to build the city’s identity around sustainability. This urban personality has encouraged a highly successful ecosystem of industries and has attracted a new generation of entrepreneurs, especially from the Asia-Pacific region. Port Metro connects the city to the world and has experienced record volumes in its containers and bulk sectors.

Calgary – The Energetic City
Calgary is Canada’s oil and gas capital and one of the most important energy cities in the western hemisphere. The city ranks 44th in all-round performance of Canadian Cities versus international counterparts, and 41st in terms of direct commercial real estate volumes.

The city is home to an increasing share of Canada’s new immigrants, and enjoys the highest employment rate of any large Canadian city. The oil and gas sector is still directly responsible for one-third of the metropolitan Gross Domestic Product (GDP), but the city has begun to evolve from basic extraction and distribution functions into a diversified business center that also hosts management, finance, engineering and R&D operations.  Retailers are noticing the rise in wealth and are proactively responding.

According to the report’s author, Rosemary Feenan, JLL’s Director of Global Research, not only are these among the most dynamic cities in the advanced world, they also possess the attributes that investors increasingly recognize as essential ingredients of city success:  transparency, liveability, sustainability and innovation capabilities.  “We anticipate that the Quartet will firmly secure their place on the world stage over the next decade.  All four cities will regularly be featured among the world’s Top 30 real estate destinations—a natural slapshot for commercial real estate investors,” concluded Feenan.

Other key Canadian cities to watch include: Edmonton, Alberta; Ottawa, Ontario; Quebec City, Quebec; Winnipeg, Manitoba; Halifax, Nova Scotia; Hamilton, Ontario;  Regina, Saskatchewan;  and Saskatoon, Saskatchewan.
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Jones Lang LaSalle is Canada’s fastest growing commercial real estate firm. With Canadian headquarters based in Toronto, the firm also operates in Mississauga, Montreal, Ottawa, Vancouver, Calgary and Edmonton. Jones Lang LaSalle offers tenant and landlord representation, project and development services, investment sales, debt capital markets, and integrated facilities management services to owners and tenants in Canada.  Jones Lang LaSalle manages over 50 million square feet of facilities across Canada.

About JLL
JLL (NYSE:JLL) is a professional services and investment management firm offering specialized real estate services to clients seeking increased value by owning, occupying and investing in real estate. With annual revenue of $4 billion, JLL operates in 75 countries worldwide. On behalf of its clients, the firm provides management and real estate outsourcing services for a property portfolio of 3 billion square feet and completed $99 billion in sales, acquisitions and finance transactions in 2013. Its investment management business, LaSalle Investment Management, has $47.6 billion of real estate assets under management. For further information, visit