Barrie gets Top Marks as Place to Invest

Barrie and Orillia have again been identified as among the most promising places in Ontario to invest in real estate.

Online PR News – 16-November-2009 – – “This is great news for the City and continues to support our strong standing as one of Canada’s leading cities in which to live, work, and play," said Hany Kirlos, Barrie's director of strategy of economic development.

"It shows we're doing something right," added Dan Stoutt, president of the Orillia and District Real Estate Board.
Only the Kitchener-Waterloo area and the City of Hamilton topped the Barrie-Orillia area in the top ten investment locations in the province.

The list appears in Top Ontario Investment Towns, a 102-page report prepared by Real Estate Investment Network (REIN), a Western-Canadian based research organization. The report analyzes the current and future prospects for real estate investment opportunities in Ontario.

Ottawa is sixth on the list and Toronto is eighth.

“Expanding infrastructure, health care and education facilities, coupled with a diversified economic base and an excellent quality of life, are key pillars that will propel Barrie’s economic growth well into the future,” said Kirlos.

"This is another very positive sign for Orillia," said Dan Landry, Orillia's economic development manager.

"What's most impressive is that this is an independent and unbiased report that takes into consideration the major factors that are important to potential investors."

In Orillia's case the establishment of Lakehead University, the existence of major employers such as the OPP, Casino Rama, Soldiers' Memorial Hospital and attractive outdoor amenities all contribute to the investment potential of commercial and residential property in the city, said Stoutt.

"This is a market where you can expect long-term, steady gains."

At the same time as the report is touting Orillia to investors, the city is adopting an official plan that encourages higher density development through much of the downtown where height restrictions formerly applied.
This opportunity to build higher makes properties more valuable and will spur further investment and growth in the downtown, Stoutt predicts.

"The potential is unlimited in terms of development."
While investment in property does not yield the bumper returns of a hot stock market, it also withstands a downturn, Stoutt notes.

Landry agrees with Stoutt that Lakehead University and Georgian College as well are reasons investors might acquire property in Orillia.

Quality of life remains another key benefit and motivator, Landry said.

"We have a heritage downtown and waterfront that continues to be the envy of other communities.”

Barrie and Orillia have regularly appeared at the top of REIN's Ontario reports.

In 2004, Orillia earned the top spot on the list, and in 2007 Orillia tied with Barrie as the second-best city for real estate potential.

In this study the two neighboring communities were paired as Simcoe Shores, though they are quite distinct.

Housing prices and access to natural amenities are similar in both cities, but Barrie four times bigger and has the advantage of a GO Train stop, Stoutt noted.