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‘Shelves will be empty:’ Supply of food in question after fire at Iqaluit store

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  • IQALUIT, Nunavut — Grocery retailers were moving Thursday to ensure critical supplies remained available in Nunavut’s capital after a fire destroyed significant parts of Iqaluit’s largest retail store.

    Another outlet stepped up to say it would accept a freighter-load of supplies originally intended for Northmart, where the fire broke out late Wednesday.

    “We have committed to the full freighter of inventory that was already in transit,” said Duane Wilson of Arctic Co-operatives, which owns Iqaluit’s other grocery store. “That’s probably (already) on the ground.

    “There’s going to be inventory in the community. There’s no immediate cause for panic.”

    Wilson added that Arctic Co-operatives will also increase its regular Friday air freight shipments to Iqaluit.

    The Northmart store offered everything from clothes to furniture to snowmobiles, as well as places to eat or sit for a coffee.

    “It’s the hub of the community,” said resident Mike Hadfield.

    “You go every day. There’s always something that you need.”

    When he heard about the fire, he headed to the Arctic Co-operatives store to stock up.  

    “I went down there to make sure I got my milk and bread and cream and eggs, perishables to last me a week. Within 10 minutes of me leaving the store, I drove by again and you couldn’t find a parking spot within three blocks.

    “Their shelves will be empty by the end of the day.”

    Mayor Madeleine Redfern said the blaze started at the back of the building and had already destroyed the warehouse and several other facilities.

    “From what I’m seeing of the residents’ reactions, everyone is in shock and disbelief … very concerned,” she said. “We initially hoped the fire could be put out very quickly. Everyone is just waiting to see what the final outcome will be.”

    Redfern said a number of people work at the store, so “it’s a significant employer and a provider of products.”

    A nearby elders care home was evacuated as a precaution and Iqaluit residents were being asked to conserve water so that emergency crews would have an adequate supply for firefighting efforts.

    A school across from the store was closed for the morning.

    Most perishable food is flown year-round into the city of 7,700, while non-perishable food items and hard goods come in by sea.

    “The issue is ensuring that the other retailers are able to bring in enough supplies on an ongoing basis,” Redfern said. “In these situations, it’s important that we work together for the common good.”

    By late morning, most of the flames had been extinguished, although black smoke continued to billow, Hadfield said. Onlookers crowded the street.

    “There’s a lot of people gathered.” 

    A spokeswoman for the government said the territory was looking into whether it has a role in keeping Iqaluit fed.

    “The (territory) is working closely with the city of Iqaluit to provide any and all support. Cold and heated storage (is) available for food storage if and when needed,” said Nasra Esak of Community and Government Services.

    The Health Department was working to ensure people get their medications.

    The RCMP were investigating the cause of the fire.

    — By Ken Trimble and Bob Weber in Edmonton

    The Canadian Press




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    Online real estate auctions try to shake up sales with novel approach

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  • An online auction for a luxury home in Abbotsford, B.C., is drawing attention for its novel approach, which some observers say has potential to inspire new sales even if it doesn’t have any notable impact on the housing landscape.

    Bidding opens Tuesday on the 12-bedroom, 10-bath restored train power station known as the “Sumas Powerhouse,” which was previously listed for $5 million and has an assessed value of $2.2 million on B.C. Assessment.

    It’s one of three properties in Canada listed on global firm Concierge Auction’s website. A news release says it’s targeting Chinese buyers and will be sold in co-operation with Re/Max.

    Scott Pate, a project sales manager with Concierge, said luxury real estate has been a buyers market for quite some time in both the United States and Canada and auctions are a way to give sellers more certainty.

    “We’ll bring the market to this sale instead of the normal way of selling real estate, which is putting it on the market and waiting for an offer, which could take years and years,” he said.

    “The market is motivated because there’s a fear of missing out. This auction is going to end on a certain day … so it creates a lot of interest.”

    Real estate auctions are typical in Australia and New Zealand, but the model is less common in Canada. 

    A real estate agent in Victoria tried the in-person auction approach in 2016 with a property in the city’s upscale Rockland neighbourhood, holding a public auction featuring a pianist playing a grand piano in the ballroom at the event.

    But local media reported that although 60 people filled the room, only one was an interested buyer so the auction was cancelled. In 2017, the B.C. Supreme Court accepted a $1.8-million offer for the historic mansion in foreclosure.

    Tom Davidoff, director of the University of British Columbia’s Centre for Urban Economics and Real Estate, said online auctions aren’t all that different from the way we buy and sell homes traditionally in Canada, especially in cases where there are multiple interested buyers and a bidding war.

    That could make it comfortable for Canadian buyers to transition to the model.

    “It certainly could be a direction the market could go. In segments where the market is slow today, people will try different approaches to move product, so it’s certainly possible,” he said.

    But beyond creating another way for potential buyers to bid, he said he doesn’t believe there will be an impact on the market in terms of housing prices or competition.

    “This will have no impact on the market overall,” Davidoff said.

    In Toronto, On the Block sells real estate both the traditional way and through its online auction platform but doesn’t focus on luxury sales.

    Co-founder Daniel Steinfeld said online auctions offer a way around some of the frustrations that come with silent bidding wars under the traditional system.

    As part of the company’s model, buyers must sign agreements to make the value of their bids public while their identities remain protected. Real estate board regulations otherwise prohibit real estate agents from disclosing the substance of competing bids.

    “Buyers, especially in the Toronto and Vancouver markets, have grown pretty frustrated with the blind bidding approach,” he said.

    The platform also allows the company to post more information than might be available through MLS listings, like copies of home inspections and agreements of purchase and sale, which makes it less likely for a sale to fall through.

    The most important factor in a successful real estate auction is the starting price, which can inspire competitive bids, Steinfeld said. So when identifying potential properties for auction, the company interviews the sellers to determine their objectives and market expectations.

    If the seller has unreasonable expectations about the market value of their property, it’s probably not the right fit for auction.

    Market conditions matter less, he said.

    “We have seen in both good and bad market conditions that it can work, it really just comes down to the appropriate pricing strategy,” Steinfeld said.

    Auction properties are typically first-time listings and the company sets a reserve price, which represents the minimum value at which the seller is obligated to sell.

    “Once bidding reaches that number, everyone knows for sure that property will sell,” he said.

    “Then everyone starts to bid quit a bit more because they know at that point that if they win, it’s theirs.”

     

    Amy Smart, The Canadian Press


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    A week on, vigil held for Christchurch victims in Prince Edward Island

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  • CHARLOTTETOWN — More than a week after the deadly shooting rampage at two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand, a vigil was held at the Charlottetown cenotaph in Prince Edward Island on Saturday to show solidarity with the victims.

    Sobia Ali-Faisal, a faculty member at the University of Prince Edward Island’s psychology department, said while the temperature was cold the atmosphere at the vigil was warm.

    “It was sombre, but the signs that people had were very, very supportive,” she said, adding that the hundreds of people who attended “really wanted to be there.”

    Ali-Faisal said it was particularly heartening to see support from outside the Muslim community.

    “It’s soothing because you can feel quite vulnerable after something like this happens,” she said.

    “It could happen here. You could be a target, and you just kind of become cautious and take a lot more precautions. So it’s nice when you see people come out and support you. It makes you feel safer.”

    Vigils can also be a starting point for challenging hate by allowing people of different faiths to connect, she added, but said it’s important to keep up the momentum they create.

    Shaukat Khan, the president of the Pakistan Canada Association in Vancouver, said it’s “amazing” to see Canadians standing with the Muslim community, adding that Canadians always come together in hard times and these vigils show that.

    There are a number of groups in British Columbia and other parts of the country meeting up and thinking of ways to sustain the dialogue following the attacks, he said.

    The gunman killed a total of 50 people at two mosques in Christchurch on March 15, in the nation’s worst terrorist attack.

    Australian national Brenton Tarrant, 28, has been charged with murder in the attacks and is scheduled to make his next court appearance on April 5.

    Alhadi Abusneena, the president of the Muslim Society of Prince Edward Island who was also at the Charlottetown vigil, echoed Ali-Faisal’s words.

    The people of Charlottetown and P.E.I. support the Muslim community and “we stand as one family,” he said.

    “I see in their eyes, I see the love and compassion,” he said.

    Such vigils show that in spite of the sorrow, people choose love over hatred, he said.

    Although the vigil on Saturday took place more than a week after the shooting, Abusneena said the timing is irrelevant since the victims’ families have to live with a lifetime of pain.

    —By Hina Alam in Vancouver, with files from The Associated Press

    The Canadian Press


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    march, 2019

    fri8mar - 30aprmar 85:30 pmapr 30Real Estate Dinner Theatre5:30 pm - (april 30) 10:00 pm

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