Ottawa named second-best tech city in Canada

According to a new report, Ottawa’s tech sector is second only to Toronto’s, and it’s having a noticeable impact on the local housing market.

The report, 2017 Scoring Canadian Tech Talent, was released last week by CBRE Ltd.’s Ottawa office, and concluded the national capital is becoming an international tech hub. Mostly concentrated in the city’s west end in Kanata and Stittsville, the tech sector has started competing with the federal government as a hub that attracts talent.

“One of the key findings for us is Ottawa, on a national and international front, is a true hub and true tech city,” said Shawn Hamilton, CBRE’s senior vice president, managing director and broker in Ottawa. “We rank second-overall in Canada behind Toronto. Toronto is a world-class city, and the GTA being five or six times the size of Ottawa—the fact that we can hold the same stage as Toronto is exciting for us.”

Hamilton says the report goes a long way towards dispelling the notion that Ottawa is merely a government city and nothing more, especially after the implosion of its tech sector in the late ‘90s and early 2000s. Kanata comprises 14% of CBRE’s property inventory, however, it accounts for 35-40% of the city’s leasing.

Hamilton says that’s being driven primarily by tech, which isn’t surprising considering Shopify announced earlier this year that it’s tripling the size of its Ottawa headquarters.

Additionally, Apple’s announcement that it’s opening an Ottawa office could be interpreted as an affirmation that the city is an international tech hub.

Ryan Jones, a sales agent with Coldwell Banker First Ottawa, has noticed an influx of tech companies in the last few years—and with jobs come people.

“Tech is one of the reasons the West End is growing so well,” said Jones. “A lot of companies have come to town in the last few years, like Amazon. We’re making headlines as a city because of sustainability and housing prices, and that’s attracting companies to move here.”

Ottawa has in the past been rated Canada’s most educated city, and it’s reflected in salaries.

“If you can pay people well and have them in an affordable city from a cost of living perspective—‘Hi, come to Ottawa. You’re going to get paid better and your money will go farther.’—that will make Ottawa a more desirable place for talent to migrate,” said Hamilton. “These companies can’t exist without talent. Residential affordability is what will drive talent coming to Ottawa, which in turn will make businesses look to Ottawa more favourably.”


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