Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

I say, they've noticed our potential in London

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Hey gang.

I'm talking to you, good folks and gentle people of Winnipeg.

Not the local street thugs that international media voice Vice recently decided to make into local heroes in its portrayal of the city as the murder capital of Canada.

Hey gang, we have just received a big boost from a respected international media brand with more clout where it counts when it comes to our identity and reputation.

The headline in the U.K.'s Financial Times Friday edition sounds as if it could have been written by the local chamber of commerce: "Why Winnipeg is one of the best places to do business in Canada."

The subhead, displayed in a line above a photo of the Esplanade Riel bridge, encapsulated the answer.

"The vibrant, multicultural city has several major developments in the pipeline, helping fuel strong demand for homes."

In fact, our comparative real estate values are at the heart of the story that was published in the Properties section of the prestigious business-focused newspaper.

The newspaper also refers to a two-year-old KPMG study that named the city the least expensive place to do business in Western Canada, although my business source says the city has been judged the cheapest place to do business in the North American Midwest.

The story quotes Pierre Leduc of the Canadian Real Estate Association putting the city's housings market in a national perspective.

"One unique feature of the Winnipeg market is that it has always had one of the tightest balances of supply to demand in the country," he reportedly said. "If it were anywhere else, this would be a sellers' market but in Winnipeg it seems to be the neutral or natural state of things."

Of course the Winnipeg Realtors had to have its say, and Peter Squire speaks for them in the Financial Times feature.

"I believe Winnipeg is reinventing itself," Squire says, "with a new airport terminal, the new Canadian Museum for Human Rights, a new football stadium at the University of Manitoba -- the most impressive in the country -- major hospital expansion and a whole new industrial project called CentrePort which will set Winnipeg up as a major freight-forwarding destination."

No story about Winnipeg -- except maybe the Vice video on our murder rate -- would be complete without trumpeting our arts and restaurant scene.

So that's in there, too.

But only by way of getting back to their impact on the city being a good place to buy a home, particularly in the "upmarket" southwest quadrant of Winnipeg.

Again, nothing we don't know there, but this story wasn't meant for us. It was meant for businesses looking for a place to do business from and, I would suggest, real estate speculators looking for a good steady-as-she-goes safe place to invest.

Hence this excerpt from near the end of the story:

"There are some concerns that Canada's residential property market is now overheated and heading for a fall. Fitch Ratings, the New York-based rating agency, warned last year that prices could fall by up to 10 per cent over the next five years. However, it has since moderated its predictions for this year and 'The Peg,' as the market is known, looks like a safer bet than many others."

Winnipeg will never have the level of offshore real estate investment of Vancouver or Toronto; the kind that inflates the price of homes to near unattainable prices.

But a publication such as the Financial Times, with its global reach and monied readership, has the potential to at least put us on the international real estate investment map.

Yeah, but what about the Murder City gap, you say?

Hey, buying a home is an investment.

No one said they actually have to live here.

gordon.sinclair@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition July 21, 2014 B1

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