Rising rents pushing up inflation

The inflation rate rose again, and housing costs are a major driver.

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Good morning!

Nothing quite makes one long for the sunshine like friends coming back from a warm and sunny vacation with a patterned button up t-shirt. Now all I can think about is how great it would be to bask in the sunshine without needing a parka. Good thing it’s January!

Today we’ve got some housing economic news, a news round up from around the region, and some maybe hopeful news about the Canal.

Let’s get to it.

— Robert Hiltz, managing editor

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Wednesday: -11 🌡️ -13 | 🌤

Thursday: -10 🌡️ -20 | ❄️

Friday: -13 🌡️ -18 | 🌤


Rent stays steady while housing sales dip

What happened: Rent prices stayed relatively stable in December, dropping an average of $10 to $2,228 in December, from November, CTV reported. Even still, rents were up 7.5 percent year over year, from $2,072 in December 2022, for a total increase of $156.

Slow housing market: At the same time, the number of housing sales slowed to the lowest rate since 2010, CTV reported. The 11,978 homes sold in 2023 was an 11 percent drop from 2022. According to the Ottawa Real Estate Board, the benchmark price for homes in the city was $704,900, a 2.4 percent increase from the previous year.

New OREB president Curtis Fillier — the first openly gay leader of the organisation — saw optimistic signs for an increase in the market in December. “We likely won’t see the full impact of rate stabilization until the second half of 2024, but December’s activity bodes well for a strong year ahead in Ottawa,” Fillier said

Unlikely rate cut? With this week’s news that inflation had ticked slightly up to 3.4 percent from 3.1 percent last month, the prospects of a Bank of Canada rate cut seemed to diminish. The cost of rent and high mortgage costs continue to be major contributors to high inflation, Global News reported.

Conversion hopes? Community leaders want the federal government to speed up the development process for the buildings it has on its “disposal list.” There are seven former federal office complexes in the city sitting empty, with no end in sight, CBC reported.

The temporary problem: Immigration levels aren’t helping housing costs. The issue isn’t permanent residents, but rather an increase in the number of people coming to the country as temporary foreign workers and students. A new report from the National Bank of Canada said that the population increase of 1.25 million people last year is much higher than the country can absorb, The Globe and Mail reported.

The bank argued the country can only handle a population increase of about 300,000 to 500,000 people a year. Last year, more than 500,000 temporary workers arrived in the country, according to their report.

  • “But to meet current demand and reduce shelter cost inflation, Canada would need to double its housing construction capacity to approximately 700,000 starts per year, an unattainable goal,” the report said.

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🚗 3,374: The number of parking tickets issued during Saturday’s parking ban. The tickets could be worth up to $421,750, depending on when the offenders decide to pay. [CTV]

🚨 20%: The rise in reported hate incidents in 2023 compared to the year before. Last year, there were 460, compared to 385 in 2022. [CBC]. 

🚌 13: The number of bus drivers the Ottawa Student Transportation Authority, which runs school bus lines for the English public school, is still looking to hire. The missing drivers mean there are 39 unfilled runs under the authority’s jurisdiction. [CTV]

📈 3.4%: The national inflation rate increased in December to this amount, up from 3.1 percent in November. The increase in the rate lowers the likelihood of a Bank of Canada interest rate cut. [CTV]


🚧 Residents of North Dundas are asking the municipality to replace a gravel road in horrible condition with a tar and chip surface. But the regional government said that style of road repair doesn’t last as long as was hoped, and is hard to maintain. [CBC]

🚨 Ottawa police charged two drivers in recent days for speeding in the Heron Road bus lane leading to the Workers’ Memorial Bridge. [CTV]

🌨️ There were dangerous driving conditions along the 401 in Kingston on Tuesday as snow and wind made for poor visibility along the highway. [CTV]

💥 Two people were injured in a crash near Algonquin College on Tuesday morning. One of the women injured in the two-vehicle crash was taken to hospital. [CTV]

⚖️ The town council of Casselman violated provincial rules around open public meetings by holding at least one — and likely other meeting — secret online council meeting in 2001. Councillors held the meetings and made sure neither the public nor staff were informed they were taking place to discuss town business. [Ottawa Citizen]

❄️ A new warming centre opened up in Pembroke, the only shelter in the Ottawa Valley. The converted trailer has heating, reclining chairs, televisions, and hot meals for those in need. [CBC]

🪚 Algonquin College will launch a new program on building conservation at its Perth campus, where it hopes to teach students how to preserve and repair buildings. [Ottawa Citizen]


I think it’s fair to say at the Lookout, we like houses with some quirks. And this third level attic bedroom with a full three-piece bath is quirky. But we like it. Overall it’s got three bedrooms, four bathrooms, a fenced in backyard and a nice second-story patio. It’s also close to the Canal!

House of The Week is a home selected by the Lookout team and is not a paid advertisement. All ads are labelled as such. If you’re a realtor who wishes to feature your home in our newsletter, please contact our sales team. 


⚖️ Ottawa police Const. Goran Beric received a suspended sentence of 30 months of probation after being found guilty of assault and assault with a weapon. Beric stepped on a man’s neck for several minutes and hit him in the head with a baton, then filed a false report of what happened before it was revealed there was video evidence of the encounter. The Crown wanted a jail sentence of four to six months. [CBC]

💰 Infrequent meter checking, and poor estimates, mean many customers of Enbridge are getting huge catch-up bills from the company. Complaints to the provincial regular have doubled after the company was fined $250,000 for substandard billing practices. [CBC]

🚨 A Quebec coroner is recommending much stiffer penalties for dangerous driving after an inquest into the death of a cyclist killed by a driver going 50 km/h over the speed limit while driving with a suspended licence. [CBC]

🏢 The NCC bought the site of the former Chapters at the corner of Rideau and Sussex for more than $20 million, sources to CTV. The commission said it hopes to announce what will be done with the site in the coming weeks. [CTV]

⛽️ Carbon tax rebates were scheduled to go out this week. Most people will receive the rebates via direct deposit. [CBC]

🪙 Bye-bye discounts. Loblaws stores will no longer offer half-off deals on about-to-expire goods at its stores. [CTV]

🔍 After falling well short of its inspection goals of long-term care homes, the province announced a new 10-person investigations team, to make sure homes are operating up to code. [CBC]

  • How are the sidewalks in your area? The Snow Moles are looking for volunteers to report on conditions in areas across the city. [Council on Aging]

  • The Sens were up 4-3 heading into the third period against the Avalanche. We stopped checking the score with more than four minutes left, when the Avs went up 7-4. [Twitter]

  • If you’re cold, they’re cold! Be careful with your pets in the cold weather this week. [CTV]

  • A state funeral will be held for former NDP leader Ed Broadbent in the city Jan 28. [Ottawa Citizen]

  • We love a good sunrise, don’t we folks? [Reddit]

  • NCC crews have been out flooding the Canal ice overnight, in hopes we might get some skating this year. [Twitter]

  • Want to have your announcement featured? Learn how here.


Is building homes in empty office towers the way to fix downtown?

What happened: Compared to other cities in the country, the return to office rate in the city is much lower. This has led to all sorts of difficulties — hello transit budget — but the vacant office space downtown offers both a problem, and an opportunity. 

The latest figures show the city’s commercial vacancy rate has dropped to 12.2 percent last quarter, according to a recent report by the real estate firm Colliers. That’s down about half a percentage point from the previous quarter. Downtown, the rate dropped about one percentage point to 11.2 percent.


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Because of a very tired newsletter editor, we ran the Ottawa Wordle again on Monday, without ever giving the answer. So, congrats to everyone who got it, the answer was SAVED, as in the person rescued from the ice in their car last week.

The Ottawa Quiz will return next Monday.

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