Microbooms. That’s what Re/Max is calling big cannabis producers’ impact on local economies – including, perhaps unexpectedly, the housing markets. This is despite a Re/Max consumer survey that found 65 per cent of Canadians would not like to reside near cannabis retail stores. While there are some cities who protest the stores, the trend of increased housing sales and prices as a result of local cannabis producers nearby cannot be minimized.
It’s an effect that’s been especially welcome in small towns in Ontario and Eastern Canada, where a great number of large-scale cannabis producers have set up shop. Aphria is one such cannabis production company that located near Leamington, Ontario. It may be no coincidence that since employing 1,000 locals, the region has seen home sales increase 7.82 per cent and average prices grow 9.10 per cent year-over-year.
In Atlantic Canada, the area surrounding Wentworth, Nova Scotia has also seen a huge impact thanks to Breathing Green Solutions another popular cannabis producer. Similarly, Atholville, New Brunswick is also experiencing a renaissance thanks to Zenabis Global Inc. Since employing more than 420 people from the town and neighbouring communities, it’s seen a jump in property values, a growth of new restaurants, and even a few traffic jams – all signs of rejuvenation that occurred after Zenabis took over an abandoned textile mill.
Then there’s the case of Smiths Falls, Ontario – a city transformed by Canopy Growth – the largest cannabis producer in the world. It took over a derelict Hershey factory and now employs 1,300 people in the Ottawa-area.
"The impact of Canopy Growth on Smiths Falls cannot be understated, and it's growing," says Christopher Alexander, Executive Vice President and Regional Director, RE/MAX of Ontario-Atlantic Canada. "The economy in the Rideau-St. Lawrence area is experiencing a boom, which is triggering home sales, which rose by 27.1 per cent year-over-year, and average prices increased 10.5 per cent. Demand is up and there's a housing shortage in the region. We expect to see similar cannabis industry-related growth in other regions as well."
"The legal cannabis industry is already being credited with invigorating some lagging economies and as a result, those housing markets could soon see a flurry of activity," Alexander adds.
While some residents may still oppose producers for other reasons, such as its “skunk smell” pollution during humid weather as happened in Pelham, Ontario, it’s hard to resist the lure of jobs and a revitalized community. Yet despite some outlier cities still opposing the legalization and retail of pot, a RE/MAX consumer survey found that two in 10 Canadians (21 per cent) already live in proximity to one and most of them (72 per cent) say living near one is not a factor in their decision to move.
"The increasing number of retail cannabis stores in Calgary shows no signs of stopping, with city officials having approved more than 200 since legalization," says Elton Ash, Regional Executive Vice President, RE/MAX of Western Canada. "The presence of more stores may influence how home buyers approach certain neighbourhoods."