Some parts of Kelowna's economy are still doing very well despite pandemic - InfoNews

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Some parts of Kelowna's economy are still doing very well despite pandemic

April 24, 2020 - 7:30 PM

While many Kelowna residents have lost their jobs because of the COVID-19 pandemic, construction continues on what, for some, could still be a great year.

“The last couple of weeks in March were fairly quiet but, since early April, we’re actually seeing more traffic, more registrations,” Randy Shier, CEO of the Mission Group said during an Urban Development Institute panel discussion today, April 24.

“We’re actually seeing active buyers. The buyers that are out there are homeowners. The investor buyer, they’re quieter but people’s lives change. People get married. People move in together. People have children. Children move out of the house so people move from a larger home to a smaller home or a smaller home to a larger home.”

He said sales are not up to pre-mid-March levels when the province started locking down but did note that the company has recently signed a lease with a popular eatery in one of its downtown commercial locations.

“So there are businesses that are planning for the future,” Shier said. “It’s not all doom and gloom.”

It was Kevin Edgecombe, owner and president of the Edgecombe Builders Group, who said, despite the drastic overall economic slowdown of recent weeks, he’s continuing to build and is starting on a new project as well.

“Commercial sales were going very well,” he said. “Commercial construction was going very well. The trades remain very busy in the industry. We are still on track, in fact, to have our busiest construction year since 2007. When you look at the amount of cranes that are in Kelowna, it’s pretty incredible what was going and is still going on. I think we’re doing pretty well.”

Renee Merrifield, CEO of Troika Group, wasn't quite as upbeat, pointing out that many people from outside Kelowna are not able to travel here so that’s impacting sales. Still, she expects the latter part of the year to see a surge in activity. She noted that economists say that real estate tends to lead the way out of recessions.

“All its done is change timing,” Shier said. “For us, it hasn’t changed any of our plans moving forward.”

What COVID-19 has done is change their marketing to something that is much more technologically focused. Merrifield, for one, never wants to go back to the old ways.

While the construction side has continued strong – often because projects take months if not years to complete – the real estate component is not doing as well.

“2019 was a relatively flat year in our world,” Mark West, founder and managing broker with Epic Real Estate, said. “There was a lot of planning, a lot of interest, a lot of registrations in the first part of the season. It was actually kicking in a little earlier than normal on our side of the cycle. Then, here we are. It stopped very significantly.”


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