What Brought Me Back To Montreal

First of all, I’m not born here, I’m South African and I left South Africa and moved to Toronto. My high school years were in Toronto. My first experience with Montreal was McGill and I stayed and started working at the company I’m working at now, which is Canderel. I then subsequently left and went to London and Paris, three kids born in Europe and what I wanted to do were to raise the kids, I wanted to bring them back to the city cause it’s a wonderful place to raise a family.

Subsequently after eight years here, I had an opportunity to move and work in Toronto. I accepted the work part but not the moving part because I wanted to stay here and that was a great experience from a work perspective, but now I’m back at Canderel after leaving so many years ago and I get to work and play and live in the city.

We Owe Our Resurgence To The People

Well it’s no secret that Montreal is going through an incredible resurgence and there are a number of factors to that. But principally it starts with the people, the ability for the city to attract people and I’m one of them, for the quality of life and for the opportunities form a business perspective.

We have a wonderful confluence of an affordable city that offers a world class quality of life. I’m not the only one that recognized that. The students recognize that, our universities are full with foreign populations and it’s becoming a destination for talent and what’s interesting is this talent is talented. So that is why we are seeing such a substantial investment in the city. It’s all about the people.

Confidence Is On The Rise

The biggest thing that has changed over the last two years, I believe is confidence. And so we see that in the confidence of companies moving here, but we also see it in the residential market, particularly in terms of condo purchases where people are not reluctant to pay big numbers to invest in property and they have the knowledge that the prices are gonna continue to grow which means that demographically the city’s gonna continue to attract people and we need more housing and so that’s really the biggest change and so we’re seeing that reflected in land prices.

We’re seeing that reflected in the ultimate sale prices of condos and it’s sustaining a considerable growth in the city.

We Have Wonderful Confluence Of Culture

We have a wonderful confluence of culture and we have obviously a history, a past history, of the French and English in the city. But now the environment is really one of cohabitation, mixed collaborative, and richness. And that is unique really any place I’ve seen. And so you sit in a meeting in Montreal and if you don’t speak both languages perfectly, you’re gonna be lost because the conversation switches from English to French so easily. And I think that brings the city a wonderful richness.

I Am Very Optimistic About Montreal

I’m very optimistic about Montreal. I think we need to pursue a vision of richness and when I talk about richness it’s not financial. It’s about a richness of our institutions, our hospitals, our universities, our cultural institutions, the activity of just the urban landscape. We’ve seen the renewal with the infrastructure and so all of these come together and Montreal is living in a period of richness and it’s wonderful to see.

A New & Different Approach To Business

What excites me most is the creativity and so we’ve always said that Montreal has attracted creative industries but now the way businesses evolved with technology, there’s creativity everywhere because we’re having to reinvent our past. There’s no business that can remain doing business as it did in the past and so if you come to creative solutions, Montreal with its new, different approach if you will to business, offers that. Particularly the type of people that come to the city and work in the city.

Access To Nature, One Of My Favorite Things About The City

What are a couple of your favorite things about Montreal?

The list is long, let’s start with the Canadians, though we didn’t make playoffs this year, it’s gonna come next year. I’m a foodie so we have one of the best food cultures in the city. Obviously the mix of cultures and we talk English and French but how about the Asian, the Italian, the Greek, it’s a wonderful mix and you go into different enclaves with the city and they’re vibrant. And I would say what’s important for me because I’m an outdoor kind of person is the access to nature, so within 45 minutes you’re in the hills, you’re in skiing, you’re in cycling and it’s very hard to achieve that in other cities.

Let’s Create An Environment For Business Success

My vision is let’s first of all create an environment for business success. We have had governments in the past that have made that difficult. They were not partners, they were obstructive. And right now we face a provincial municipal government that encourages business, so that is one. And once you have business successful, you have jobs and jobs attract people and it’s a circle that goes around. So let’s keep it up, let’s keep up what we’re doing, we should be proud of our accomplishments and I think it’ll continue in this trend for the years to come.

Real Estate Is A Self-Regulating Market

My message to the real estate community is really we have to encourage the regulators and the politicians to let the market forces prevail. We’re actually very astute as an industry to avoid overbuilding, to avoid gluts, to avoid spikes in prices, and it’s a self-regulating market.

When it gets too hot, construction prices go up too high then we slow down a bit or land prices go too high and we slow down a bit and then the population catches up, the demand catches up and so it’s self-regulating. And if we try to introduce policies as we’ve seen in some other cities like Vancouver and Toronto, these are policies that create recessions and so we must avoid that.