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May 10, 2024

Canada's shopping for a foreign grocer.  Can an international retailer succeed here?

An international supermarket could spur competition, analysts say,

if one is willing to come here at all



A shopper enters an Aldi supermarket near Altrincham, Britain, in February 2023. The German chain is among several European grocers that the federal government is reportedly courting to enter the Canadian market. (Phil Noble/Reuters)

With some Canadians struggling to afford groceries, and as frustrations with corporate profits boil over and manifest as boycotts, the federal government says it's trying to coax international grocers to set up shop in Canada.

During a Tuesday media conference, Industry Minister François-Philippe Champagne told reporters that he continues "to look at whether there are foreign deep-discounters that would be interested in the Canadian market." 

The minister has been open about his plans for months, and the Wall Street Journal first reported last month that he was courting a dozen European and U.S. companies, including German chains Aldi and Lidl, and U.S. chain Grocery Outlet Holding.

Yet grocery industry analysts in Canada say dangling a carrot in front of an international supermarket brand won't solve the consolidation problem — if there's a carrot to dangle at all.


The federal government is shopping for a foreign grocer in a bid to stir up competition and bring down food prices. But grocery analysts say Canada's unique marketplace will make that tricky. CBC's Jenna Benchetrit explains.

Giving Canada's grocery giants a run for their money would require massive operational scale and investment in the country's market, said Kevin Grier, a livestock, meat and grocery market analyst based in Guelph, Ont.

"And for what? For what return? I'm sure they're wondering what the return would be," said Grier of the foreign grocers on Champagne's list. "I don't think there's a lot of, you could say, excess to be garnered [in the Canadian market]."

When the Competition Bureau released a wide-ranging report in June 2023 that assessed the state of the Canadian grocery industry, it concluded that more competition was needed to bring prices down — and that the entry of a foreign grocer could help.

"Listen, are we going to succeed? I don't know," Champagne said. "Is it worth the effort? Definitely. We're going to keep on pushing."



People shop in the produce aisle of a Toronto grocery store last July. A Competition Bureau report in June 2023 assessed the state of the Canadian grocery industry and concluded that more competition was needed to bring prices down — and that the entry of a foreign grocer could help. (Cole Burston/CBC)

According to a July 2023 report by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the Canadian grocery industry was dominated in 2021-2022 by five chains that held nearly 74 per cent of the retail market share: Loblaw, Metro, Sobeys, Walmart and Costco.

Jordan LeBel, a food marketing professor at Concordia University's John Molson School of Business in Montreal, said there's good reason to introduce more competition into a heavily consolidated market.

"Competition tends to bring more innovative products to market," he said, noting it's also more likely to result in affordable prices and generally provide better all around experiences for customers.

But a foreign grocer up for the challenge might face other barriers on the way in, he said, calling the government's push to find one merely "lip service."

"Looking at Canada, it's a huge territory. It's a vast land. You have to concentrate your operations around key cities. Is that enough to justify an international expansion?" LeBel said, noting that it would be costly to set up a supply chain across the country.


Although Loblaw has now reinstated its popular 50 per cent discounts on perishable food at stores that offered it before, some customers say they want to see it at all Loblaw-owned stores.

Some Canadian independent grocers have criticized major domestic grocery chains for the power they have over suppliers, including charging them fees for things like shelf placement or packaging. That's one of the practices that the proposed Grocery Code of Conduct will try to restrict.

LeBel noted that many of the major brands have loyalty programs that might make customers reluctant to switch grocers.

Canada's biggest grocery companies also have established relationships with suppliers that allow them to pay less for bulk orders. Forging those types of relationships with suppliers could be challenging for new players.

"If they're not large scale right away, they're going to pay more for their beef. They're going to pay more for the Heinz Ketchup," said Grier.

Aldi is among the fastest growing grocers in the U.S., known for its small stores and for selling limited inventory at lower prices. (Phil Noble/Reuters). 

Aldi growing fast in U.S.

German deep-discounter Aldi is among the brands reportedly on Champagne's list. While already established across European markets, it's among the fastest growing grocers in the U.S.

"Aldi is popular in the minds of many Canadians because it has always positioned itself as an affordable grocery shopping destination," said LeBel.

The company sells mostly private label brands and its own items, including pre-packaged foods. Its stores are small, and it keeps a limited selection of products compared to other supermarkets.

As one market analyst told the New York Times in 2011, just as Aldi was expanding its U.S. footprint: "It simplifies everything — supply chain, delivery … You stock the stuff that's the highest velocity and that you make the highest margin on."

CBC News reached out to Aldi to ask whether it has plans to come to Canada but didn't receive a response. A spokesperson for Grocery Outlet Holdings, the lone U.S. grocer on Champagne's list, told CBC News that there were no imminent plans to expand to Canada.  

There are lessons to be learned from Canada's past dealings with international chains.

Safeway Canada, the subsidiary of a California-based food chain and a mainstay in the Western provinces, was bought by Sobeys in a $5.8 billion deal in 2013. The Canadian takeover led to diminishing returns and the exit of the CEO.

General merchandiser Target, which came here in 2013, left Canada "with their tail between their legs," said Grier, the market analyst. Target Canada, where groceries were supplied by Sobeys, closed all its stores here in 2015, struggling to operate at the necessary scale and having to fight the perception that it was pricier than its competitors.

Lessons learned by Walmart

Among those competitors was Walmart, now one of the largest grocery retailers in Canada. The U.S. retail giant learned valuable lessons in its domestic operations that it then carried into Canada, Grier noted.

The company uses a specific kind of data technology called a blockchain to help simplify its operations — everything from tracking deliveries to automating payments.

"The ability to put low-priced items in front of the consumer, that's what they want to be known as," said Grier of Walmart. Twenty-five per cent of Canadians surveyed for the Competition Bureau's June report said they usually shopped at Walmart.

Others shopped at Loblaw-owned stores (49 per cent), many bought from Sobey-owned stores (28 per cent), 22 per cent shopped at Metro-owned stores and 18 per cent shopped at Costco.

Twenty-eight per cent of those respondents said that they usually shopped at other grocery stores.


Accessibility remains an issue

For Canada's 6,400 independent grocers, many of which operate in communities where big supermarkets don't have a presence, the government's efforts to woo an international chain are a bitter pill to swallow.

"We'd like them to sit down and talk about our list instead of trotting off to France or somewhere else in Europe to dangle some bells and whistles in front of some big chain," said Gary Sands, senior vice-president of the Canadian Federation of Independent Grocers (CFIG).

He noted that there has been some progress in areas of concern to independent grocers, including a bill passed in December that limits the use of property controls, a type of lease clause that can restrict a new grocer from moving into a competitor's old retail space.

Accessibility is a substantial part of the problem. Some Canadian cities have what's known as "food deserts," areas that have limited access to fresh and healthy food due to a lack of grocery stores.


With grocery prices skyrocketing over the past few years, more people are looking for help to stock their pantries. Across Nova Scotia, volunteer-run groups are stepping up — and some just got a boost in funding to help them meet demand. Taryn Grant has that story.

For those who don't have a car, getting to a grocery store that's further than 15 minutes away might be logistically impossible — and they might have limited options.

The Competition Bureau found that almost a quarter of Canadians have only one or two grocery stores within 15 minutes of their home (based on how they usually get to a grocery store).

"Of course, you're not going to be able overnight to build thousands of points of sales to compete against the giant top three supermarket chains," said LeBel.

"We still have food deserts in this country, and that's unacceptable," he said.

"It's not just a question of bringing in outside people to create additional competition. It is setting up the conditions that will favour innovation in production and distribution and retailing."

February 7, 2024


Leyad has acquired the 182,031-square-foot North Sydney Mall in North Sydney, N.S., for an undisclosed price from Econo-Malls.

The property is Leyad's second retail acquisition in Altantic Canada in the past six months.

Econo-Malls is involved in commercial real estate acquisition, development and management across Eastern Canada.

It launched a limited partnership program in 1998 and owns interests in more than 40 retail properties encompassing more than three million square feet and valued at approximately $500 million.

“Econo-Malls has owned this for over a decade now and it’s a partnership they've had in place for a long time,” Leyad chief executive officer Henry Zavriyev told RENX.

“They've been great stewards of the property for the last few decades, but it was the end of that ownership group.”

The shopping centre, on a 21.23-acre site at 116 King St. in the community of approximately 6,000 on the east side of Nova Scotia’s Cape Breton Island.

North Sydney Mall faces the Emera Centre Northside arena and recreation facility and is in close proximity to the Marine Atlantic ferry terminal, where approximately 300,000 people travel between Newfoundland and Nova Scotia annually.

North Sydney Mall a regional retail centre

North Sydney Mall is a retail cornerstone in the region, hosting major tenants including WalmartSobeysDollarama and the Nova Scotia Health Authority.

It’s more than 90 per cent leased and Zavriyev said it comprises nearly 40 per cent of North Sydney’s total retail space.

“Within our pipeline at the moment, we have a number of acquisitions that fit this profile,” Zavriyev said. “We're looking in multiple provinces in Canada. 

“This is an asset that was built years ago that we're buying well below replacement cost and that already has triple-A covenants in place. That builds our base off which we can grow.”

Discussions are taking place with a couple of national retail chains to fill vacancies and Zavriyev is hopeful the North Sydney Mall will be fully occupied by the end of 2024.

Leyad is reconfiguring some tenant spaces within the mall and enhancing common areas. Zavriyev expects that work to be completed in the next six to eight months.

“We internally manage our real estate and are a value-add company,” Zavriyev explained. “We like to buy real estate that’s already good, but we can make it better.”

The site has 1,000 parking spaces and room for two or three additional pads to increase the mall’s current number of stores from 27.  Zavriyev doesn’t think North Sydney is large enough to support residential intensification on the site.


Attractive investment opportunity

“Tertiary markets are overlooked by institutional buyers and retail in general is not the flavour of the month,” Zavriyev observed. “It’s not as easy to finance but I think for the right property, and where the fundamentals are there, it makes great sense.”

The presence of the Nova Scotia Health Authority makes North Sydney Mall an appealing location for clinics and medical offices, and Zavriyev said his firm is fielding such requests.

Enclosed malls make a lot of sense in small communities, according to Zavriyev, because they act as social hubs as well as places to shop.

Montreal-headquartered Leyad, which was founded by Zavriyev and started with the acquisition of a small apartment building in 2016, specializes in the design, construction and management of residential, commercial and mixed-use properties.

The company’s move into the Atlantic Canada retail market began last October with the $61.5-million acquisition of the 363,000-square-foot Wheeler Park Power Centre that sits on 1.5 million square feet of land in Moncton.

It’s anchored by an Atlantic Superstore and features several other leading national brands, including The BrickOld Navy and Staples.

Two new national tenants recently signed leases at the mall and Zavriyev said it’s now close to being fully leased.

Aside from North Sydney Mall and Wheeler Park Power Centre, Leyad’s 13 other retail, industrial and office properties as well as approximately 2,000 apartment units — are based in and around Montreal and Quebec City.

January 31, 2024













Mic Mac Mall Adding Retail Tenants as Landlord Plans Massive

On-Site Mixed-Use Redevelopment 

It’s been a very busy time for leasing in the past year or so for Mic Mac Mall, which is Atlantic Canada’s largest enclosed shopping centre, located in Dartmouth, across the harbour from Halifax.

And the popular centre, owned and operated by Mic Mac Mall Limited Partnership and managed by Cushman & Wakefield Asset Services, is close to getting final permit approvals for the planned development of the site surrounding the shopping centre that will be called the “M” District. 

This new development will include over 1,000 residential units including senior living, two office towers and a major family entertainment area/destination of approx. 60,000 square feet.

“The proposed mixed‐use development . . . would create a vibrant destination and community hub for the entire municipality. The combination of high‐density residential towers with diverse retail and commercial opportunities creates spaces where both residents and visitors can enjoy new services and amenities, while the increased density will in turn revitalize the interest in the current shopping centre,” said a written submission to the city by WM Fares Architects on the proposed development.

“Outside of the buildings, the current non permeable asphalt parking surfaces will be largely transformed into landscaped pedestrian corridors, curating the circulation paths as people make their way through the site. Underground parking facilities and a limited circumferential service road will limit the amount of vehicular traffic on the surface of the site, placing the pedestrian experience at the forefront of the design concept. Located on a Transit Priority Corridor, the addition of the new transit terminal will ameliorate the user experience and promote the use of public transportation to and from the site. 

“In terms of active transportation, the site will look to plug into the existing trail networks as a node between the Shubie Canal Greenway Corridor and Lake Banook Trail. This will offer bicycle and walking access points for visitors, and escapes to green spaces for residents along the Trans Canada Trail, aligning the proposal with as much of the Integrated Mobility Plan as possible.”



Mic Mac Mall is just under 690,000 square feet over three levels and is six kilometres to downtown Halifax. 

“We are on trend with the Canadian Retail Industry. Our comparable traffic volume has not yet recovered to pre-pandemic, however comparable sales have matched and in fact surpassed 2019 sales in most categories. We are very pleased with our 2023 sales results,” said Lisa Flux, General Manager.

“Shopping trends have changed, as they do. Our dwell time has increased by 20 or so minutes. This is indicative of a knowledgeable shopper, one who has a plan. You see that reflected in the food court and specialty food sales. Sales in these two categories are significantly above 2019 numbers. Again, this trend is one we have noted across our portfolio from province to province.  “2022 was a historical recovery year and our Retailers are reporting similar growth again this year. In 2023 specialty retail sales reflected a 13 percent increase over 2022; and our temporary tenants, or specialty leasing, they had a hectic year, bringing change and some unique events to to Mic Mac Mall, in all rising comparable sales by 7 percent in 2023.“

Lori Stuart, Senior Leasing Manager at Cushman & Wakefield Asset Services, said occupancy in the mall is about 91 per cent.  “We’ve made great momentum in the last 12 months. We’ve done about 46 leasing transactions, about 160,000 square feet,” she said. 

New retailers (in the past 18 months) include: Orange Theory Fitness, Griffin Jewellery Designs, Glamour Secrets, Freak Lunch Box, Presotea, Pizza Delight, Labels, Mobile Care, Milestones Grill + Bar and many more.

“We’re happy to boast that we do have some exclusive tenants to the market as well,” said Stuart. 

Exclusive tenants in the market at Mic Mac Mall include Decathlon, Eddie Bauer, Build-A-Bear, Talbots and

Modern Golf.

“The momentum keeps going and in 2024 we’ll see some new tenancies as well. We’ll welcome NVA which is Canada’s leading veterinary care clinic. They’ll take about 24,000 square feet on site,” added Stuart. “And many others leasing about 15,000 square feet we’ve got in the works right now and then the re-set of a former Winners box that’s 53,000 square feet. So we’re re-demising that and going to be announcing some new tenancies in the coming months. There will be multiple units there.” Flux said NVA is quite unique and world-renowned.

“There’s one in PEI but it will be the only other one in Atlantic Canada that does super specialized procedures that this particular clinic is known for. This is a really unique service,” she said.

Mic Mac Mall will also have 25,000 square feet of current tenant relocations and renovations planned for 2024. And a number of local and national retailers that have expressed interest in Mic Mac Mall that it is working with to add to its merchandise mix.

Daniela Vicino, National Specialty Leasing Manager at Cushman & Wakefield, said there is about 70,000 square feet of specialty leasing at Mic Mac Mall.

“Specialty Leasing has 27 activations with nine new for 2023. Some of our most notable additions are Mind Games, first to market; also, a first retail location called Little Luxuries (Soapworks). Some others are Maritime favourites such as Twiggs. They’ve been renewed for a few years in a row now. We’ve implemented Fresh New You, Incandescent, Mesh Barns, Freddy’s Fashion and Karma Spa. And we also have our usual seasonal roster that encompasses the Calendar Club, Hickory Farms. We have the Halloween superstore Glow come in again,” said Vicino.

“This year specifically we were one of the 10 chosen locations for the Merry Berry Buble Pop Up that went across Canada . . . We had a stellar year between leasing and specialty leasing. We have a quite diverse roster of tenants within Mic Mac.”

Also activated in 2023 were CHATR, and Just Cozy.

It is the 50th anniversary of the mall and there will be events to celebrate that achievement.

December 22, 2023

Leyad buys 360K-sq.-ft. Moncton retail power centre for $61.5M

Henry Zavriyev has come a long way since launching Leyad by buying and renovating small Montreal apartment buildings six years ago.

The company has since purchased dozens of apartments of various sizes, added value through renovations and sold many of them to recycle capital for new purchases.

In the beginning when we were growing, we were selling pretty much everything,” Zavriyev, Leyad’s principal, told RENX in an interview after closing on its most recent purchase, the Wheeler Park Power Centre in Moncton.

“It was a lot of buying, selling and reinvesting, but recently we’ve stabilized our portfolio, which is kind of a new thing for us.”   The largest apartment property in Leyad’s portfolio is a three-tower complex comprising 450 units. 

Retail and industrial investments

Leyad has turned its attention to acquiring retail and industrial properties for long-term investments over the past two years and that’s where much of its current and future acquisition activity will be focused.

“I think there are fewer buyers for high-quality commercial assets,” Zavriyev said. “Public institutions and REITs are not able to buy at the moment and they need to sell for liquidity. 

“So for private buyers that have good liquidity and are in the right position, I think it's an amazing time to acquire some really, really high-quality commercial assets that probably would have been unattainable two years ago.”

Leyad purchased two warehouses that it has since sold, but going forward it plans to hold and earn income from most of the commercial properties it acquires. Leyad internally manages all of the buildings it owns.

The company — which is nearing 50 employees in its Montreal headquarters, a secondary Montreal office and a Quebec City office — has been very active of late. It has continued to buy apartments, but has also made four major commercial property acquisitions.

Retail and industrial investments

Leyad has turned its attention to acquiring retail and industrial properties for long-term investments over the past two years and that’s where much of its current and future acquisition activity will be focused.

“I think there are fewer buyers for high-quality commercial assets,” Zavriyev said. “Public institutions and REITs are not able to buy at the moment and they need to sell for liquidity. 

“So for private buyers that have good liquidity and are in the right position, I think it's an amazing time to acquire some really, really high-quality commercial assets that probably would have been unattainable two years ago.”

Leyad purchased two warehouses that it has since sold, but going forward it plans to hold and earn income from most of the commercial properties it acquires. Leyad internally manages all of the buildings it owns.

The company — which is nearing 50 employees in its Montreal headquarters, a secondary Montreal office and a Quebec City office — has been very active of late. It has continued to buy apartments, but has also made four major commercial property acquisitions.

Four recent commercial acquisitions

The most recent commercial property added to the portfolio, which now is comprised of approximately 2,000 apartment units and close to two million square feet of commercial space, is Wheeler Park. It was acquired from an institutional owner for $61.5 million.

The 360,000-square-foot mall sits on 40 acres of prime real estate in the city. It’s anchored by an Atlantic Superstore and features several other leading national brands, including The BrickOld Navy and Staples.

While there are currently no plans to add residential projects to the site, it’s large enough to accommodate future development and Zavriyev is open to the idea down the road.

Leyad’s other recent commercial acquisitions were in its home province:

  • a 261,000-square-foot distribution hub in Cowansville;

  • a 39,500-square-foot shopping plaza with Jean Coutu as a prominent tenant in Chateauguay;

  • and a 115,000-square-foot Louis Garneau distribution facility in Quebec City. 

Due diligence on more acquisitions

Leyad is now doing due diligence on other similar commercial properties and Zavriyev hopes to close on those acquisitions by the end of this year or early in 2024.

“We have a reputation for closing and we do a lot of off-market stuff,” said Zavriyev. “We pay a fair price without the hassles of a bid process.”

The majority of Leyad’s holdings are in Montreal, which Zavriyev said has become saturated over the past couple of years and prompted it to look at investing in other cities and provinces. 

Wheeler Park Power Centre is Leyad’s first acquisition outside of Quebec. The company has been reaching out to brokers to let them know of its interest in acquiring more larger-scale assets in the Maritimes as well as in Ontario and Western Canada.

Leyad provides equity and conventionally finances its purchases.

“It has been a difficult market to finance retail assets, but thankfully the thesis for this retail asset in Moncton made a lot of sense to the bank and they were happy to finance it because they recognized the value of the asset,” Zavriyev explained. 

“It’s a high-yield, high-performing, high-quality asset in what last year was the fastest-growing city in Canada.”

Continuing to buy apartments

While increasing the size of its commercial property portfolio, Leyad will continue to be active in the multifamily sector since that’s where the business was built and it has extensive expertise.

Zavriyev said he was kicked out of university and did odd jobs for years before he got a janitorial position at an apartment building.

That led to an opportunity to manage the building, and then others, and he subsequently started a renovation and property management business that provided funds to buy his first apartment building in late 2017.

Leyad has been involved with more than 100 transactions since then, according to Zavriyev.

December 1, 2023

Best picture you can have, happy clients on both sides of a sale.  Congratulations to Rosemary and Royalty Holdings for their acquisition of the 72 unit New Dawn apartment portfolio in Sydney, NS.  

Thanks to CEO Erika Shea and John Whalley of New Dawn for all their assistance in providing me with the endless paperwork required to make the sale a realty.

November 26, 2023

It's been a busy year for the Maruti Empire & ROI Group with the opening of new stores

in Bridgewater, Sydney, St. John's, NF, St. John, NB, Stratford, PEI and the beautiful new Best Western in

Parry Sound, ON.  More stores in the pipeline and always looking for quality locations.

Drop me a note if you think you have the right location for us.

pizza-hut-in-galway-on-wheels-since-opening-1 (1).jpg
November 21, 2023










Primaris REIT (PMZ.UN-T) is continuing to buy premium retail properties across Canada, announcing Monday morning it has an agreement to acquire the Halifax Shopping Centre and the Annex for $370 million.

Together, the properties comprise 974,000 square feet of retail and commercial space.

The Halifax Shopping Centre has annual sales of over $1,000 per square foot, and comprises approximately 562,000 square feet on 20.9 acres of land. It is anchored by large-format stores including Walmart, Sobeys and Dollarama and also has significant densification potential.

“We are very pleased to add Atlantic Canada’s premiere shopping centre complex to the Primaris portfolio,” said Alex Avery, chief executive officer of Primaris, in the announcement. “This acquisition further demonstrates Primaris as an attractive buyer for Canadian pension fund vendors of market leading Canadian shopping centres, with multiple discussions continuing for further acquisitions. 

“Primaris is uniquely positioned as a buyer, with institutional scale as the second-largest owner-operator of enclosed shopping centres in Canada with proforma assets of approximately $3.9 billion, a differentiated financial model featuring a very well capitalized balance sheet, and a clear mandate for growth.” 

It has been managed by Cushman and Wakefield Asset Services.

The asset is the second major Canadian retail acquisition for Primaris in 2023. The REIT also bought the Conestoga Mall in Waterloo from Ivanhoé Cambridge this spring for $270 million – meaning it has invested $640 million in major enclosed retail facilities so far this year.

Extensive future development potential

The Halifax Shopping Centre property is designated as a future growth node by the city, which allows for a master-planning application for approximately 1,800 residential units plus a mixed-use component. Future phases of allowable development could include approximately 5,500 additional residential units.

The shopping centre has 69 per cent in-place occupancy, and 96.2 per cent committed occupancy including leases commencing over the coming months as part of the $54-million Sears redevelopment including Simons, Winners, Dollarama and PetSmart.

The centre also underwent about $70 million of upgrades, including a food court expansion, in 2017.

The facility is certified BOMA BEST, and other notable tenants include large-format Sport Chek and Zara, stores as well as Apple, Aritzia, Michael Kors, Victoria’s Secret, Browns, Nespresso, Sephora and Lululemon.

“Halifax Shopping Centre and the Annex exemplify the quality and market leading nature of Primaris REIT’s target acquisition profile. The shopping complex is extremely well located in central Halifax, adjacent to Halifax Transit’s Mumford Terminal and at the gateway to the Halifax peninsula, with a market leading position in one of Canada’s fastest growing mid-sized population centres,” said Patrick Sullivan, president and chief operating officer of Primaris, in the announcement.

“With very strong sales performance trending above $1,000 per square foot, this acquisition enhances the REIT’s portfolio value proposition with retailers, and offers a significant income growth opportunity consistent with the growth we see ahead for our existing assets.” 

Annex includes major transit terminal

The Annex is an open-air centre comprising 412,000 square feet adjacent to Halifax Shopping Centre and is the site of the Halifax Transit Mumford Bus Terminal, one of the city’s busiest. It has 99.7 per cent in-place occupancy, and 93.9 per cent committed occupancy including the impact of Winners moving to Halifax Shopping Centre.

The adjoining 187,000 square foot Mumford Road Office Complex has 95.4 per cent in-place occupancy and 96.2 per cent committed occupancy.

Primaris will fund the acquisition via $200 million in cash, $45 million of series A units and $125 million of exchangeable preferred units in a newly formed subsidiary LP at a rate of six per cent.


September 12, 2023

Renderings and Public Dashboard Site Unveiled for rapid housing initiative

coming to the North End of Sydney.







The RHI building will house adult individuals and couples from the CBRM who are currently homeless or at risk of homelessness and face barriers to being housed without support.

The construction of the building is being led by general contractor and builder, Dora Construction, and architect, Passive Design Solutions (PDS). Dora and PDS have decades of experience working on development projects like the RHI building, including True North and Sunflower Court in the Halifax Regional Municipality.


The RHI development will be completely net zero and have solar panels installed to provide for the building's heating and power needs, with the potential of selling surplus power back to the grid.

Development of the site is set to begin in September 2023 and will have residents living in the building by 2025.


After significant study about the design of the building and health of the trees on site, it is determined that eight trees will need to be removed. The first phase of construction will consist 

of the removal of these trees on New Dawn's property. The trees will be milled and given a new life as the wood will be used as decorative accents in the interior design of the building.

Additional milled wood will be passed on to the community for free thanks to a partnership with the Sydney Makerspace who will distribute the wood to those who would like to use it in their own building and art projects. More details about the program will be provided in the coming months.


The RHI building development, made possible by funding from the Government of Canada's Rapid Housing Initiative and the Federal Homelessness Strategy's Reaching Home Initiative, isn't just about housing; it's about fostering a sense of belonging and community.


Incorporated in the building design is an inviting communal space that encourages residents to participate in social interaction, time with friends and family, and program participation. The design also reveals a reception and wellness area which will be staffed 24/7 by the building's operating partner, the Ally Centre of Cape Breton, to provide support and resources to residents.


"The residents who will live in the RHI Building are contributing members of our community. They will be bringing with them a diverse range of knowledge and talent, which has often been 

hid den in poverty, to our neighborhood," says Christine Porter, Executive Director, Ally Centre of Cape Breton. "Most importantly, the individuals who move into the RHI building have been struggling immensely with housing and the many physical and mental consequences that come from precarious housing."


"As the operating partner of the RHI building, residents will have access to 24-hour support from our highly skilled and compassionate team and receive essential services to nurture both their physical and mental health," says Porter.


New Dawn's CEO, Erika Shea, says that this rapid housing development is a testament to the organization's belief in the power of compassion, collaboration, and community.

"For the last twenty years, New Dawn Enterprises has operated almost 30 Supportive Housing for Individuals with Mental Illness (SHIMI) units in the CBRM. This development is a continuation of our ongoing dedication to supporting vulnerable individuals within the CBRM," says Erika Shea, CEO, New Dawn Enterprises.


As the landlord of the RHI building, New Dawn Enterprises emphasizes their commitment to education and transparency throughout the project.

n effort to answer questions and provide updates on the RHI building development, they have created a Public Dashboard which will act as an ongoing information hub for the general public, North End residents, and future residents of the RHI Building

September 6, 2023









Over 30-years in operation, Urban Barn is a chain of over 50 contemporary furniture and accessories stores

in the larger markets from British Columbia to Quebec. In addition, the company also has about

30 warehouse/pickup locations in those provinces.

Urban Barn specializes in furniture and accessories for the living room, dining room, bedroom and kitchen

along with a growing choice of décor and accessory items. 

The stores feature a curated selection of home décor in design styles from urban contemporary to modern

rustic, catering to a clientele ranging from city apartments to suburban homes.  

Don Gregor at Aurora Realty Consultants Inc., who, along with Jeri Brodie, Laurel Ann Baker and Peter Constable

at Aurora Realty, are responsible for the chain’s national real estate search, reports that due to potential relocations of existing stores, a search is underway for locations in the Ottawa area and downtown Toronto. 

Units in the 5000 to 7000 square foot range in well located retail areas are targeted. Gregor is handling the search in the Ottawa region focusing on the Nepean, Barrhaven, Westboro, Centretown, Hunt Club, Riverside and Orleans areas. In the Toronto area, Ms Brodie and Ms Baker are concentrating on the area from Dovercourt Rd to Augusta Ave. with King St West, Front St West and Liberty Village being secondary areas of interest.  

Peter Constable handles the Atlantic Region focusing on the Halifax/Dartmouth, Moncton and St. John markets. 

September 20, 2022

Another fantastic day at goeasy's 15th annual golf tournament in support of Boys and Girls Clubs of Canada.
To date they have raised over $ 500,000 for this amazing cause.

Thanks to the The Club at Bond Head for all their hard work hosting the event.

April 6, 2023




Sugarmarmalade Comes To Halifax!

Congratulations to Martin and Sinje on opening the first Sugarmarmalade in Atlantic Canada.

Over the last two years they persevered through a pandemic, labour/material shortages, construction delays

and wild price swings for equipment.

In true entrepreneurial style, they fought through it all at got it done. Stop down to 1452 Brenton Street and

try one of their amazing deserts.



January 7, 2023

So Truro wins the "who opens first" award!

The new Pizza Hut store opened this week at

160 Robie Street in Truro to great fanfare.

We currently have construction underway for 7 more

new stores in St. John's, NF, New Minas, NS,

Sydney, NS, New Glasgow, NS, Bridgewater, NS,

Stratford, PEI, and of course our sister brand,

Taco Bell in St. John, NB.

Three more in the pipeline and looking for more

quality locations. Strip center locations preferred,

1,200 - 1,800 sq ft., drive-thru's required for Taco Bell.

Drop me a note if you have something available.

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January 12, 2023

Groupe Mach acquiring 2 premiere Halifax office buildings

Groupe Marche - has spent $40 million to purchase the 22-storey 1801 Hollis St., one of the largest office buildings in downtown Halifax and marking the developer’s foray into Atlantic Canada.

Montreal-based Groupe Mach is also on the verge of completing the acquisition of the 207,000 square foot Metropolitan Place at 99 Wyse Rd. in neighbouring Dartmouth. The deal, in the low-$30 million range for the 17-storey building, is expected to close in the coming weeks. 

Both buildings are being purchased from Choice Properties.

“These were two large acquisitions,” Groupe Mach president Vincent Chiara told RENX. “Four hundred thousand square feet in that market is pretty substantial. It probably makes us the second-largest landlord downtown in Halifax.”

Chiara said Halifax is “a pretty stable market. We compare it a lot to Quebec City where we’re very dominant.”

The market has about 13.1 million square feet of office inventory according to Q4 2022 stats from CBRE. Vacancy was at 15.2 per cent. Absorption for Q4 was about 81,000 square feet, and for the year 2022 stood at just over 197,000 square feet.

The 1801 Hollis office property

With 223,000 square feet, 1801 Hollis is one of the top four or five office buildings in Halifax, Chiara said. “We’re a value-add landlord and we think that we can add a lot of value to this asset both by its operating costs and the price that we paid that we evaluate to be substantially lower than its replacement cost.”

The purchase price “is south of $200 a foot and that replacement value could be anywhere between $500 to $700 a foot. We have a lot of comfort in the fact we paid a fraction of its replacement value.”

Built in the mid-1980s, 1801 Hollis has a 17 or 18 per cent vacancy rate and major tenants that include HSBC, Public Works Canada, Mercer Canada, MNP and engineering and law firms.

Chiara said Groupe Mach plans to make sure the building is “up to par with the way we operate our buildings” and attractive to existing and potential tenants.

Unlike a lot of institutional investors, “we don’t treat (Halifax) as a secondary market. We like to think that if you’ve got your third line on the ice all the time, you can’t win a hockey game, so we’re hoping to put a first line on the ice and supervise these assets. We’re very hands on and we're going to spend some time in that market and in the community.”

Built in 1985 and renovated in 2020, the building is certified BOMA Best Silver and Energy Star and features change rooms with shower facilities, a full-service cafeteria, bike storage, gym, shared conference rooms and a rooftop terrace.

Metropolitan Place in Dartmouth

Metropolitan Place was built in 1987 and is located beside the MacDonald Bridge and is connected to the Double Tree Hotel by Hilton. Amenities include bike storage, tenant shower facilities, indoor/surface parking, high speed elevators and a full-service restaurant and café.

Groupe Mach will set up a Halifax office and “we intend to be there for the long haul,” Chiara said. “That’s what we do when we acquire assets in a new market.

"We’re there to stay. This is not a purchase and a flip for two, three, five or 10 years.”

Chiara noted his parents landed at Pier 21 in Halifax when they immigrated to Canada in the 1950s, before making their way to Montreal. “I have a little part of me that feels a certain attachment to Halifax because that’s where I guess it all started.”

Mach sees end to work-from-home trend

While some institutional landlords are exiting the sector, Groupe Mach is bullish on the office market.

“We’re of the opinion that work from home is going to have an expiry date and because of that the value of these assets will increase in the coming yers,” Chiara said.

Banks are on board with that strategy “because every transaction we’ve done has been financed by a major bank. They have confidence we can create value with these assets.”

Founded in 2000, Groupe Mach describes itself as the largest private owner in Eastern Canada, with a real estate portfolio of 40 million square feet and more than 230 properties.

Some of its landmark buildings in its Montreal home base include the Sun Life Building, 1000 de la Gauchetière, the CIBC Tower, Place Victoria and the KPMG Tower.

December 8, 2022
Its starting to look a lot like....
Christmas at Ridge on the Chimney

Despite all of the challenges facing the construction industry

over the past two years, Scott & Marco have being bringing

along this project nicely. 

Slated for a summer 2023 opening, the cottages are taking

shape and the views, on display already are simply amazing.  

Located on the west coast of Cape Breton island, set in a quiet cove between the Margaree river and Inverness, sits Chimney Corner Beach. 

Atop the cliffside of the beach is Ridge on the Chimney; the newest destination where you can enjoy the area to the fullest.  

With the only private walkway down to the beach, Ridge on the Chimney's exclusive location is sure to provide you with one of

the most unique experiences on the island.

Check back for updates and exciting news. 


Oct 19, 2022

Another Fantastic Fundraiser

Another Fantastic Fundraiser

Fantastic day at the Bond Head Golf Club for the 14th annual goeasy golf classic
in support of Boys and Girls Club of Canada

An incredible 3.8M has been raised to date for this great cause.

Big shout out to the hosts for putting on a first class event. See you next year!

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