Commercial real estate market climbs across Canada ReMax

TORONTO — Demand for commercial properties remained strong in major Canadian markets in the first half of the year and is expected to continue well into 2013, according to a new study released Wednesday by the realtor group Re/Max.The Re/Max Commercial Investor Report found that almost all markets saw an increase in commercial sales and dollar volume over the six-month period ended June 30.The report highlights trends in nine Canadian centres — Greater Vancouver, Calgary, Edmonton, Regina, Winnipeg, London, Ont., Greater Toronto, Ottawa and Halifax-Dartmouth.The upbeat report on commercial real estate came just days after a report from the Canadian Real Estate Association pointed to a more lacklustre residential market.CREA said that while September residential sales were up 2.5% from August, they were down 15.1% from a year ago and likely to remain below 2011 levels through the fourth quarter. It cited both tighter mortgage lending rules and an uncertain economy.“While some first-time home buyers may no longer qualify for mortgage financing under the new rules, it is likely that many others are stepping back and reassessing how much house they can realistically afford, which is one of the things new mortgage rules were designed to do,” CREA said.[np-related]Re/Max said both Canadian and foreign investors were behind the push in commercial real estate, snapping-up apartment buildings and small strip malls “given continuing low interest rates and a generally bullish tone for the Canadian economy.”Private investors, in particular, have gained a serious foothold in recent years, spurring demand for entry-level properties such as multi-unit residential, suburban and urban retail storefronts, and smaller office buildings, the report said.“Canada’s commercial market has quickly shaken off the signs of recessionary sluggishness and roared back to life, with 2012 building on impressive gains reported in 2011,”  said Gurinder Sandhu, executive vice-president and regional director, Re/Max Ontario-Atlantic Canada.Sandhu said that low interest rates, lacklustre returns on GICs and volatility in the stock market had renewed demand for commercial real estate at a time when sellers are holding on to their investments.“With little product available in the market, upward pressure on pricing is expected to continue for the remainder of the year and into 2013,” he said.The reported found no shortage of investors, either large or small, in the commercial market. “Multiple offers were noted in six of the nine markets examined, including all major markets in the east, Winnipeg and Edmonton.”“Given the appetite for tangible investments with long-term revenue streams and potential for appreciation, commercial real estate has been gaining favour and is expected to be a top-performer well into the new year,” said Elton Ash, regional executive vice-president, Western Canada.Re/Max said economic factors are at play in markets, with strong economies in Alberta and Saskatchewan boosting sales there and the $25-billion military shipbuilding contract awarded to Halifax Shipyard seen as major catalyst in the Halifax-Dartmouth area.“A shortage of industrial product exists throughout Western Canada, as well as in Ottawa and Halifax-Dartmouth, while the market returns to more balanced conditions in southern Ontario following a period of moderate oversupply,” it said.Meanwhile, U.S. and multi-national retailers moving into the Canada market  are fuelling “robust activity” in the retail segment from coast to coast.“American brands such as Nordstrom, Target, J. Crew, Marshalls and numerous others have created a flurry of activity that is changing the Canadian real estate landscape,” Re/Max said.Re/Max is among Canada’s leading real estate organizations, with nearly 18,900 sales associates at  more than 720 independently-owned and operated offices in Canada.The Canadian Press read more

Keystone pipeline doesnt carry sins of entire carbon economy Calgary mayor

CALGARY — Calgary’s mayor says both government and the oil industry have dropped the ball when it comes to promoting TransCanada Corp.’s proposed Keystone XL pipeline.Naheed Nenshi recently returned from a world economic forum in Switzerland.He says discussions about the project made it clear to him that Canada has not done a good enough job of winning over global leaders.Nenshi says he has become an advocate of the pipeline because Calgary-based TransCanada’s project is key to his city’s economy.The $7.6-billion pipeline would carry bitumen from Alberta’s oilsands to refineries along the U.S. Gulf Coast.Environmental groups have put enormous pressure on the U.S. government not to approve Keystone.Nenshi says the case in favour of the pipeline is complex and Canada needs to do a better job at promoting it.“I think it’s a terrible shame that this one-metre-in-diameter pipeline is being asked to carry all of the sins of the carbon economy,” Nenshi said. “In fact, I think that some of the protests against the pipeline are deeply misdirected.”The Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers says it welcomes Nenshi’s support.“I am very pleased to have the mayor be an advocate for it. He is going to be having important conversations with important people,” said spokesman Travis Davies.But Davies appears to disagree with Nenshi on one point:“I think industry and governments a have been very active in making the case for this project.”The state of Nebraska recently dropped its opposition to Keystone after the governor said he would allow the pipeline to travel through the state along a revised path. The project’s fate is now with the U.S. State Department. read more

Laurentian Bank boosts dividend as earnings rise

MONTREAL — Laurentian Bank is boosting its quarterly dividend as its second-quarter profit increased 4% to $35.1 million.[np_storybar title=”Why it’s dangerous to short the Canadian banks” link=””%5DCanada’s big banks are in the awkward situation of pulling in near-record profits while also facing a record bet that they are heading for a fall. Read more [/np_storybar]The Quebec-based bank said Wednesday its dividend will increase by one cent per share to 50 cents, payable Aug. 1.Laurentian earned $1.10 per share for the period ended April 30, compared to $1.22 per share a year earlier when its net income was $33.9 million.Adjusted for one-time items, net income was $40.5 million or $1.29 per share. That compared to $36.1 million or $1.31 per share in the year-ago period.Revenues increased 8% to $214.8 million, from $198.7 million a year earlier.The acquisition of AGF Trust contributed $18.8 million of revenues.Net interest income increased 9% to $140.4 million, reflecting loan and deposit growth from the purchased portfolios of AGF Trust, partly offset by lower margins.Other income increased $4.1 million to reach $74.4 million due to higher fees and commissions.The provision for loan losses increased by $1.5 million to $9 million. That included $2.5 million related to the AGF Trust loan portfolios. read more

Accusing them of having an affair Leaving money to a secret beneficiary

TORONTO — When it comes to requests to have inheritance money left discreetly, Toronto estate lawyer Ed Olkovich says it’s typically not the racy stuff most people might expect, such as funds for a secret lover or a child out of wedlock.Rather, he says, it’s often done to avoid having something that could appear unseemly included in a will — which becomes a public document once it’s probated.“I’ve had a strange case where somebody said to me, ‘Don’t put that person’s name in the will because my partner will go crazy if I left this person money,”‘ Olkovich says, citing the example of a client wanting to leave a sizable gift to a loyal employee without raising any suspicions from his wife.“The next thing you know, somebody is accusing them of having an affair.”But regardless of why you may want to leave money for a secret beneficiary, there are lawful ways to do it, says Ottawa-based estate lawyer Norman Bowley.Why confusing common law relationships with marriage can be a costly mistakeMost high net worth individuals lack inheritance plan despite largest transfer of wealth coming: studyOne option is to make arrangements with a trust company — legal entities often used when dealing with estate planning matters — that administer the money either during your lifetime or after your death.“They’re discreet and professional and you would literally put in the trust, ‘When I die you are to give this $100,000 to such-and-such-a-person,”‘ says Bowley. “That is not going to get out in the public, provided that you take the care to use an instrument for which you don’t need probate.”Another option for leaving money confidentially is a secret trust in which you leave assets to a person named in your will with prearranged instructions that they privately give the funds to someone else who has not been named in the will.For instance, Bowley says, you could leave money to a sibling, with the understanding that they would give the funds to your secret beneficiary — “a mistress, for instance.” That means the gift is secret even after the will becomes public.However, enforceability of a secret trust may be a concern because there is little you could do to ensure your wishes are actually carried out. Bowley says that “if your brother turns out to be a scalawag after your death, he may just keep the money for himself.”An altogether different option is a permanent insurance policy that guarantees a payment, says Lorne Marr of LSM Insurance in Markham, Ont.“The owner of the policy can choose whoever they want as the beneficiary, so long as they’re is an insurable interest” says Marr.“But the nice thing about an insurance policy also is that it supersedes the will,” he adds, meaning that whatever you designate in your insurance policy is not part of your estate and therefore subject to probate.But in terms of the actual pay out, the insurance company needs two things from the beneficiary: a claimant’s form explaining their relationship to the insurer, as well as a copy of the death certificate — the latter of which could be tricky, Marr says.Olkovich points out, however, that while an insurance company won’t tell you who a designated beneficiary is, that doesn’t mean the policy becomes confidential.“If it’s for a large sum of money a court can order that information to be disclosed,” he says.Generally, Olkovich says, the difficulty with trying to leave money in secret is that after you’re gone it’s no longer a secret once the beneficiary actually starts receiving the funds.“If all of a sudden a large sum of money is missing out of your account, someone is going to follow that paper trail and they’re going to say, ‘Well, whatever happened to this money?”‘The Canadian Press read more

Alberta government wont respond in beertax court challenge until Sept 19

CALGARY — The Alberta government won’t get to defend the constitutionality of its beer tax system in court until Sept. 19.The delay comes after arguments from lawyers representing two breweries outside the province stretched into the second of the two days allotted.Toronto-based Steam Whistle Brewing has argued that Alberta violated trade rules when it imposed a separate tax system on small breweries outside of the New West Partnership provinces of British Columbia, Saskatchewan, and Alberta in October 2015.Great Western Brewing and Steam Whistle are together also challenging the changes Alberta made to the system that instead imposes a blanked $1.25 per litre charge on all small breweries, but returns much of that to Alberta small brewers in the form of a grant.The two breweries have argued the system creates an unconstitutional trade barrier that unfairly favours Alberta breweries. read more

India says Lanka must decide on ferry service

Radhakrishnan said the Narendra Modi-led Central Government, which had so far ensured the release of over 1,000 Tamil fishermen after coming to power, was taking every possible step to permanently stop the arrest of fishermen by the Sri Lankan Navy on crossing the maritime boundary line by holding direct talks with the Prime Minister and the President of the island nation. India is prepared to resume the operation of a ferry service between Colombo and Tuticorin and it was up to the Sri Lankan Government to take a final decision in this connection, Indian Minister of State for Shipping and Highways Pon Radhakrishnan said.Radhakrishnan also said that even as the Centre is taking all out efforts to find a permanent solution for the fishermen being arrested by the Sri Lankan Navy while crossing the border, the Tamil Nadu fishermen should carryout their fishing operations in a restrained fashion, The Hindu newspaper reported. Moreover, steps were being taken to conduct talks between the fishermen of the two nations. Until a permanent solution was evolved, the Tamil fishermen should carryout their fishing operations in a restrained fashion, he appealed. read more

US notes steps Maithripala said he will take

Ambassador Samantha Power was speaking at a press conference at the UN on the December program of work for the UN Security Council. The United States (US) says it has taken note of the steps President Maithripala Sirisena said he will take to reduce the powers of the Executive President.Ambassador Samantha Power, the US Permanent Representative to the United Nations and the US Mission to the United Nations, said that it was so completely striking to hear from the President a series of steps that he’s seeking to take to restore the checks and balances that had existed. “I was just in Sri Lanka, in addition to visiting India, and it was so completely striking to hear from the Sri Lankan President a series of steps that he’s seeking to take to shrink his power and to actually restore the checks and balances that had existed. And it was very countercultural, given what is happening in parts of Africa,” she said. For the month of December, the United States is serving as President of the Security Council, a position that rotates every month among the members of the Security Council. The United States will be responsible for setting the agenda for the month, organizing meetings, managing the distribution of information to Council members, issuing statements, and communicating the Council’s actions to the public. (Colombo Gazette) read more

Passenger arrested with money concealed in his underwear

A passenger was arrested at the Bandaranaike International Airport with foreign currency hidden in his underwear.The 55 year old Sri Lankan, a gem businessman from Galle, was arrested by the customs staff at the departure lounge this morning with Euro 38,530 valued at Rs. 6,121,224.00 concealed in his underwear. He had attempted to smuggle the currency out to Singapore when he was arrested.Following inquiries conducted by the Deputy Director of Customs at the Airport, Anura Walawage, the foreign currency was forfeited and a penalty of Rs. 100,000.00 was imposed on the passenger. (Colombo Gazette)

Sri Lankan man and son in Pakistan to be deported home

A Sri Lankan man and his son stranded in Pakistan after being mistaken as Pakistanis by Iran, are t be deported to Sri Lanka soon.Mistakenly identified by the Iranian police as Pakistanis, Abdul Majeed Zaheer and his son were sent on a bus to Pakistan last July and landed up at the Sarim Burney Welfare Trust. They have been living in the organisation’s shelter home since then, the Express Tribune in Pakistan reported. But this month, a sessions court directed the home department to clear the two and deport them within the next 15 days. On May 16, the special branch’s foreigner registration officer wrote to the home department to issue the deportation orders. “I hope that the process is completed soon so that I can go home,” said the lean-framed Zaheer, as he sat in the social activist’s office while his son, five-year-old Ashiff wandered about. “I had gone to Tehran from Sri Lanka with my son and wife in 2013. Despite the fact that the visa ended in two months, I continued to stay there so I could find a job.” Zaheer’s wife found work as a cook in an embassy, while he would do odd jobs to keep the house running. But in 2015, tragedy struck. Zaheer’s wife left him and he was caught by the police when he and his son had gone picnicking near the border. “They asked for my passport but I didn’t show it to them because my visa was expired. So they thought that I was a Pakistani and sent me off on a bus with other men who had entered Iran illegally.” According to Zaheer, there were a lot of Pakistanis living near the border. While in the bus on the way from Mand to Quetta, a local suggested he contact Burney for help. According to Burney, a petition was filed by the organisation for his deportation and very recently he had gotten permission to leave but there had been no help from the Sri Lankan embassy.Zaheer, who hails from Trincomalee, a port city in Sri Lanka, helps Burney by driving him and members of the organisation to work in the city and knows the way to Sea View and even Mubarak Village. “I like the food here but I haven’t gotten used to the chapati,” he said. Zaheer, 35, who is in touch with his mother and siblings, plans to start his own business along with his brother back home.As Burney is waiting for the deportation orders to make arrangements for Zaheer’s ticket back home, Zaheer says he is leaving with good memories. “I got too much here. Everyone was very nice.” (Colombo Gazette) read more

Pakistani community in Sri Lanka protest against abuses in Kashmir

The High Commission also said that a food embargo and curfew had also been imposed following the assassination of a youth leader in the area.“Kashmir is still reeling from the violence as skirmish between angry protesters and huge contingents of Indian army go unabated. The peaceful assembly was attended by people from all walks of life. The participants urged the Secretary General of the United Nations to encourage, facilitate and support efforts leading to a peaceful resolution of the Kashmir issue in accordance with the UN Security Council Resolutions to ensure resolution of this longstanding unresolved issue,” the Pakistan High Commission said. The Pakistan High Commission said that since 8th July, 2016, Indian forces have killed more than 50 innocent Kashmiris, injured over 3500 and imposed a ban on print and electronic media. The Pakistani community in Sri Lanka staged a protest today opposite the United Nations office in Colombo against alleged abuses in the Indian occupied Kashmir.The Pakistan High Commission in Colombo said that the Kashmir Study Forum in Sri Lanka along with the Pakistani and Sri Lankan community organized the peaceful demonstration to highlight the recent upsurge in extrajudicial killings and human rights violations in the Indian occupied Kashmir by the Indian forces. A memorandum with signatures urging the UN to play its role to resolve the oldest unresolved dispute on the UN agenda since 1947 was also handed over to the UN office. (Colombo Gazette) The participants of the protest expressed their grave concerns about the ongoing killings of civilians by Indian security forces in the towns and villages of Kashmir. read more