Capital Tower: A Beacon of Sustainability and Community Revival in Edmonton 

Capital Tower in Edmonton

On the periphery of Edmonton’s downtown core sits a 12-storey, 179-unit building that Avenue Living is transforming into a modern, affordable, and sustainable multi-family residential and commercial building. 

Built in 1970, Capital Tower is located at the gateway to the city’s Chinatown district. And as with so many buildings of its vintage, it’s due for a refresh. Upon completion, the building will provide warm, inviting homes to the vibrant surrounding community.  

Art Meets Sustainability 

Capital Tower’s revitalization focuses heavily on sustainability and reducing its environmental footprint — measures that will also provide an improved living experience for residents. Most notably, this project will include the largest vertical array of solar panels ever proposed in North America — one that also doubles as a stunning piece of art.  

The north face of the building will be home to a 26-metre (85-foot) tall mural designed and illustrated by Edmonton Indigenous artist Lance Cardinal. The mural represents the unity, coexistence, and cultural similarities between First Nations and Chinese Cultures using imagery from the Cree seven sacred grandfather teachings and the Chinese zodiac. Thanks to technology from solar panel innovator Mitrex, the landmark artwork also harnesses the energy of the sun to help power the building.  

Beneath the solar façade, new insulation on the building’s exterior walls — which will add an R-value of 12 — will improve the efficiency of the interior. Coupled with new triple-glazed windows, the measures will help keep residents comfortable year-round and allow the heating and cooling systems to run more efficiently. 

But the upgrades don’t stop with the building’s exterior. 

“We’re making improvements to almost every building system in order to reduce greenhouse gas emissions,” says Neal Shannon, Avenue Living’s Senior Vice President, Capital Projects.  

A Broader Commitment to ESG 

These improvements are part of our broader commitment to environmental, social, and governance (ESG) initiatives across our portfolio. This approximately $26 million project is made possible thanks to favourable financing terms with BMO. The arrangement allows us to access funds from both BMO and the Canada Infrastructure Bank (CIB) to complete the green retrofits, which meet CIB’s Environmental Consumption Measures (ECMs).  

“This project is separate from Avenue Living’s partnership program with CIB,” notes Daniel Veniot, Associate Vice President, Capital Markets — Debt. “But BMO has its own relationship with the CIB, allowing us to access advantageous lending terms through their programs. Together, these terms will allow us to offer residents upgraded suites at fair market prices, so we can continue to serve our target demographic.” 

Meeting the CIB’s ECMs also allows us to take part in the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation’s (CMHC) multi-unit loan insurance project, MLI Select. MLI Select is a points system that offers insurance incentives based on affordability, energy efficiency, and accessibility. “This project qualifies for MLI Select based on the environmental upgrades alone,” says Veniot. 

Building Comfort and Community 

The renovations and retrofits are designed to improve the experience for those who call the building home. The property will have features and amenities that foster community, including a rooftop garden, library, games and movie room, fitness centre, storage area, and refurbished commercial space on the main floor.  

The in-suite upgrades will provide increased comfort for residents while contributing to emissions reductions. Heat pumps in each suite — along with smart thermostats — will allow residents to accurately control the temperature of their environment through both heating and cooling. The addition of new makeup air units also helps improve air circulation throughout the building, eliminating cooking odours, improving air quality, and keeping temperatures more even throughout the space. These measures all contribute to improved health for occupants, according to the Canada Green Building Council

Other improvements include LED light fixtures in both common areas and suites, modernized elevators, and updated bathrooms and kitchens. Taken together, the renovations all contribute to an elevated experience for future residents.  

A Community on the Rise 

The result will be a high-quality, safe, affordable and comfortable property that contributes to the revitalization of the surrounding community. In recent years, the area has seen renewed education, hospitality, and entertainment options. The building is within walking distance of the ICE District (Edmonton’s entertainment hub), Epcor Tower (one of the newest AA office buildings in the city), and Grant MacEwan University. It’s also close to transit lines which gives residents easy access to the University of Alberta and other business districts. Nearby, the Station Lands development is revitalizing an underused part of the downtown core, transforming it into a vibrant, walkable community. 

The project, which is already underway, is set to be completed in late 2024. We’ll provide regular, more detailed updates here, so follow along for the full story as it unfolds.  


This commentary and the information contained herein are for educational and informational purposes only and do not constitute an offer to sell, or a solicitation of an offer to buy, any securities or related financial instruments. This article may contain forward-looking statements. Readers should refer to information contained on our website at for additional information regarding forward-looking statements and certain risks associated with them. 

What Investors Need to Know About Borrowing Amid Rising Interest Rates  

Borrowing Amid Rising Interest Rates

The past year has been punctuated with announcements of rising interest rates, as the Bank of Canada (BOC) redoubled their efforts to combat inflation with successive rate hikes. The latest, in July, brought the overnight rate up by 25 basis points to 5%, its highest since early 2001. Changes in interest-rate policy can have wide-ranging effects throughout the economy, and for real estate investors, it’s vital to interpret the different outcomes between long-term and short-term rates. Understanding the inversion of the yield curve — where long-term interest rates are lower than short-term rates — can help well-prepared property owners mitigate risk. 

Understanding the Yield Curve 

Figure 1 

During the period of rising interest rates, there has been a notable difference between prime-based borrowing rates and bond-based borrowing rates in Canada. While the prime rate has experienced significant increases (from 2.7% in March of 2022 to 6.95% in June of 2023), the Canadian 10-year bond rate has remained relatively stable over the same period. Whereas retail borrowing is often based on prime, commercial borrowing is traditionally based on long-term government bonds. Therefore, well-managed commercial borrowers will generally be less impacted — as compared to retail borrowers — by the recent rise in interest rates. One of the many upsides to indirect real estate investment through entities such as REITs is that investors are able to benefit from the relationships and knowledge of a team of experts. By indirectly investing in real estate, everyday investors can take advantage of bond-based borrowing rates through a strategic asset manager, without becoming a commercial borrower themselves. 

With the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) setting lending rates at a spread over the 10-year bond, those who have access to bond-based borrowing for long-term decisions have been in a more favourable position since the beginning of 2022. A visual representation of these trends can be observed in Figure 1. 

Figure 2 

As per Figure 2, during an inverted yield curve, where long-term interest rates are lower than short-term rates, long-term borrowing becomes cheaper than short-term borrowing. By securing financing at lower rates, long-term borrowers benefit from stability and predictability in their interest costs over an extended period. Conversely, short-term borrowers and those with variable rates may experience heightened volatility and financial strain as their borrowing costs increase in response to rising short-term interest rates. The inversion of the yield curve emphasizes how important it is for borrowers to consider duration and structure when interest rates are rising. 

Rental property owners facing rising interest rates can take advantage of the differences in duration between short-term leases and long-term debt. Using long-term debt instruments, such as a 10-year mortgage, alongside shorter lease terms, allows property owners to adjust to changing market conditions in real-time, counterbalancing the impact of higher borrowing costs. However, property owners should also consider market conditions and the resident experience before implementing this strategy. 

Interest Rates and Homeownership 

Rising interest rates — and the resulting increased cost of short-term borrowing — can have a negative impact on development projects, lowering construction activity and limiting the supply of housing units. With fewer developments, the cost of housing increases, leading to higher rents and housing prices. Scarcity of supply and increased borrowing costs compel developers to set higher prices for their projects, ultimately affecting affordability. 

A survey conducted by Chartered Professional Accountants Canada identified several barriers to homeownership among non-homeowners in the country. Rising interest rates were cited as the top obstacle by 89% of respondents, followed closely by the affordability of down payments (84%), necessary renovations (83%), and finding a home in a desired area (83%). Other challenges included taxes and mortgage payments (81% each) and income instability (69%).  

Existing homeowners also faced hurdles, with renovation costs affecting three out of five individuals, ongoing difficulties in affording home maintenance (46%), and challenges with mortgage payments, property taxes, and utility payments for varying percentages of respondents. These findings shed light on the financial obstacles Canadians encounter in their quest for homeownership, as well as the ongoing strains faced by prospective and existing homeowners. 

Navigating the Landscape 

Canada’s rising interest rates present distinct challenges for many sectors of the economy — but they also give rise to opportunities. It’s essential for borrowers to understand the benefits and drawbacks of short- and long-term interest rates and formulate their debt strategy accordingly. For property owners, understanding the interest-rate landscape, managing duration, and responding to local market conditions can help minimize borrowing costs and optimize revenue.  

Understanding how an asset manager uses different debt vehicles to mitigate risk and reduce borrowing costs allows investors to make informed decisions. Asset managers like Avenue Living, for example, can make strategic use of short- and long-term borrowing to potentially maximize returns and de-risk their portfolios. Considering an asset manager’s borrowing strategy — along with other factors — can help investors find the vehicle that’s right for them. 

This commentary and the information contained herein are for educational and informational purposes only and do not constitute an offer to sell, or a solicitation of an offer to buy, any securities or related financial instruments. This article may contain forward-looking statements. Readers should refer to information contained on our website at for additional information regarding forward-looking statements and certain risks associated with them. 

Investing and Connecting with a Community: Wetaskiwin Mall’s New Mural

Wetaskiwin Mall

Inclusivity can take many forms — the people who make up an organization’s team, the causes they support, and the principles they operate under. But it can also take the form of representation in other ways like in the case of Wetaskiwin Mall, an exciting piece of original art, painted by a local, renowned Indigenous artist.  

As property owners and operators, we know our investments have an impact on the people who live and work in the communities in which we operate. We invest in spaces — multi-family homes and commercial space — that people develop deep connections with. The mural at Wetaskiwin Mall aims to showcase the culture of the community and evoke the theme of “Healing Medicine.” 

Collaborating with a Local Artist 

Painted by distinguished Indigenous artist Lance Cardinal, the 50-foot mural in the north wing of the mall symbolizes many ways of healing: ceremonial, medicinal, cultural, and healing through dance — a fitting subject given its location right outside an Alberta Health Services office and the Care Gateway Clinic. Cardinal painted the mural over ten days, with the help of an assistant.  

Cardinal, from Big Stone Cree First Nation, is an artist and entrepreneur on the rise. In 2022, he collaborated with the Edmonton Oilers to write and produce the team’s new land acknowledgement and design their Turtle Island logo, which helped raise funds for Edmonton charities, while being one of the most popular and beloved alternate designs in the team’s history. His shoe collection with Kunitz Shoes, an Edmonton-based company, is set to launch this year and is currently on display at the Royal Alberta Museum.  

Wetaskiwin, Alberta, which is 70 km south of Edmonton, is a community of around 13,000. The city is located on Treaty Six territory, bordered by two of the four Maskwacis First Nations — the Ermineskin and Samson Cree Nations — and serving two others — the Louis Bull Tribe and Montana First Nation. Wetaskiwin has rich Indigenous history; its name (which means “the hills where peace was made”) is a direct reference to the outcome of a battle between the Cree and Blackfoot. 

Bringing People Together 

Our strategy with Wetaskiwin Mall has always been to create a “community hub,” a place that provides customers with the essential services they need all in one place. In addition to national retailers and locally-owned stores and services, the mall is also home to Alberta Health Services, a pharmacy, medical clinic, optometrist, and more. Avenue Living has invested in Wetaskiwin for over a decade, with a presence that includes 401 multi-family units and 158,000 square feet of commercial space. In keeping with a key tenet of our strategy as an active manager, we have developed a deep understanding of the market and its residents.  Since acquiring the shopping center in 2017, Avenue Living has carefully curated a roster of retailers and services that reflect the needs and wants of area residents.  

“You don’t usually see local art in a retail environment like this,” says Slava Fedossenko, Director, Commercial Asset Management for Avenue Living, “but we wanted to create something that reflects the culture of the community.” 

Avenue Living is immensely proud of our partnership with Lance Cardinal and the finished mural. While it is one of the first projects of its kind for us, we have plans to ensure it is not the last, and we look forward to working with local artists in other communities to showcase the places our residents and customers call home.  

Read more about Lance Cardinal and this exciting project in The Wetaskiwin Times. 

This commentary and the information contained herein are for educational and informational purposes only and do not constitute an offer to sell, or a solicitation of an offer to buy, any securities or related financial instruments. This article may contain forward-looking statements. Readers should refer to information contained on our website at for additional information regarding forward-looking statements and certain risks associated with them. 

This Year’s Most-Read: Our Top Content in 2022

We’ve gathered the blog posts, articles, and white papers that garnered the most interest from our readers last year. They cover a diverse range of topics, from our partnership with the Canada Infrastructure Bank to the complexities of the private rental housing market, but they all come back to one thing: understanding the real estate investment landscape. As investors seek opportunity in a changing market, it’s important to explore and analyze the fundamentals that impact our industry to refine our strategy and provide value for our residents, our investors, and the communities in which we operate.



This announcement is the next step in our commitment to ESG — one we officially started when we began a relationship with PRI (Principles for Responsible Investing). Our partnership with Canada Infrastructure Bank will allow us to undertake capital improvements that reduce our carbon footprint and provide comfortable homes for our residents, without compromising affordability.


RE-EXAMINING A HEDGE AGAINST INFLATION: Multi-family Residential Real Estate 

This paper examines the effects inflation and rising interest rates have on affordability, and how investors may find opportunities in multi-family real estate. 



Our founder and CEO, Anthony Giuffre, collaborated with the University of Regina’s Dr. Grant Wilson on this examination of the North American rental housing market, identifying the lifestyles, demographics, and value propositions that make up six major groups in the housing spectrum. The peer-reviewed paper was published in the International Real Estate Review in April 2022. 



This white paper explores how diversification in real estate portfolios — across asset types and markets — can enhance value for investors, helping them minimize risk and maximize the potential for returns. 



We examined factors that make the workforce housing market an attractive investment opportunity and  why it’s the focus of our multi-family strategy.  

This commentary and the information contained herein are for educational and informational purposes only and do not constitute an offer to sell, or a solicitation of an offer to buy, any securities or related financial instruments. This article may contain forward-looking statements. Readers should refer to information contained on our website at for additional information regarding forward-looking statements and certain risks associated with them. 

Avenue Living’s 2022 Year in Review

In 2022, Avenue Living grew in more ways than one. In addition to expanding our footprint and operations with new offices in Toronto and Dallas, we improved our customer satisfaction through active management, invested in technology, and elevated our ESG efforts. We’re also entering our third year as signatories for PRI and since signing on, we have partnered with the CIB to sustainably retrofit nearly half of our multi-family portfolio. In 2023, we look forward to commencing phase one of the project and making a positive impact.

How Avenue Living’s formidable 2022 provides solid base for 2023

With a cycle-tested business model and a steadfast commitment to the everyday, Avenue Living continued to make great strides.

In 2022, accelerating inflation and rising interest rates created a challenging investment environment, with negative returns flashing across the asset spectrum. Still, that didn’t stop Avenue Living’s 16-year growth streak.

After ending 2021 with just over $3.1 billion in total assets under management (AUM), the organization grew by 48% to reach $4.6 billion AUM. It achieved broadly diversified growth across its multi-family apartment, farmland, and self-storage real estate portfolios — all while staying true to its strategy of investing in the everyday.

“It speaks to the durability of Avenue Living’s business model across multiple market cycles,” says Gabriel Millard, SVP, Capital Markets – Equity & Research. “2008 (GFC) and 2014 (Commodity Crisis) were lost years for many other players, but they were periods of growth for Avenue Living as we leaned into the opportunities. 2022 was another very formative year for us.”

A win-win in the multi-family residential space

Avenue Living entered the apartment space as owner-operators in 2006 with a relentless focus on the resident experience. The company has continued to grow while offering an institutional level of service to those who call its buildings home. A pivotal strategic development was the establishment of the Avenue Living Real Estate Core Trust, which has grown into the first North American Workforce Housing Fund in just five years. Today, Avenue Living’s residential portfolio includes over 15,000 multi-family suites across 3 Canadian provinces and 5 U.S. states.

While headlines around real estate investments tend to revolve around high-growth markets — the likes of Toronto and Vancouver — Avenue Living leans into moderate growth markets, such as the Prairie provinces, where assets are valued at a relative discount. Its vertically integrated business model has also allowed it to control operational costs.

Those factors have enabled Avenue Living to responsibly raise rents in pace with higher inflation and interest rates, without hurting residential stakeholders. “We’re achieving our targeted returns while still maintaining affordability for our residents,” Millard says. “We’ve seen collections improve, occupancy continued to tick up, and we have wait lists at over 100 of our buildings.”

Growing opportunity in Canada’s breadbasket

Meanwhile, Avenue Living’s farmland holdings have expanded from 49,000 acres of Saskatchewan farmland at the end of 2021, to over 83,000 acres today. 

In terms of global output, Canadian farmland represents a large portion of durum wheat, peas, and other important base crops. Saskatchewan is a big piece of the agricultural puzzle, as it accounts for approximately 40% of the cultivated acres in Canada.

“We’re witnessing a breakdown in the global food supply chain,” Millard says. “Canada has a real opportunity to be a world leader in ensuring food security.”

With a history of outperforming inflation over the past 30 years, farmland is also growing more attractive as a diversifying asset class. That’s bolstering Avenue Living’s bullish view on Saskatchewan farmland, which remains at a steep discount compared to neighbouring provinces.

Great strides in self-storage

The Mini Mall Storage Properties Trust has also cemented itself as a premier player in the secondary and tertiary markets of North America’s self-storage industry.
From just over 2 million square feet at the end of 2021, the trust has grown to nearly 6 million square feet of self-storage space. That expansion was partly driven by Avenue Living’s ability to introduce its proprietary technology stack and operating expertise into all the new locations it enters.

“A lot of innovation has happened in the primary downtown, new-development segment of self-storage over the past decade,” Millard says. “We’re taking that approach and applying it to older legacy-run assets that have traditionally operated as mom-and-pop, cash-and-paper businesses.”

Avenue Living is pushing for more growth through a new office in Dallas, where it has hired key industry leaders in the self-storage landscape.

“Our expansion into Texas has taken us from a smaller, scrappy Alberta-based company into a truly North American player,” Millard says. Mini Mall Storage is now a top 25 self-storage operator in North America.

More milestones

Above the 49th parallel, Avenue Living has arrived on Bay Street with a new Toronto office. With that new foothold in Canada’s financial hub, the company is positioned to further reinforce and broaden its capital base in the years to come.

With about $160 million in expenditures made toward capital improvements in its residential properties, Avenue Living is also sharpening its focus on maintaining a superior resident experience and providing great customer service.

After becoming a PRI signatory in 2021, the company is doubling down on sustainability through a partnership with the Canada Infrastructure Bank, which includes a $150-million co-investment on deep energy retrofits on its older-style multi-family assets.

“Real estate – especially older stock properties – represents a significant portion of GHG emissions in Canada,” Millard says. “Our goal is to reduce GHG emissions by at least 49% through deep energy retrofits”.

Leveraging its unique perspective on workforce housing, Avenue Living has also published industry-leading papers and research. That includes a peer-reviewed paper on the residential housing spectrum, which unpacks the nuances of typical renter demographics, as well as their needs in terms of rental housing.

“We’ve published a number of white papers on the importance of affordability, and how a changing cost of capital affects real estate across different markets and asset classes,” Millard says. “We’re really solidifying ourselves as thought leaders within the industry, while continuing to advocate for our residents and provide value for our investors.”

The way forward

Avenue Living has built a strong capital stack. Coupled with a diversified equity base and the use of longer term, fixed-rate debt instruments, Avenue Living is focusing on innovation and investment to ensure strong same-door performance and operations in 2023. It also plans to continue focusing on active property management to deliver the best possible results for residents and investors alike.

“We’re heading into a world with a lot of dark clouds, but we’re seeing opportunities in the market. We’re in a defensible position, and we are aiming to take advantage of any disruptions that may come,” Millard says. “2023 is going to be an interesting year globally, and a very exciting year for Avenue Living.”

This commentary and the information contained herein are for educational and informational purposes only and do not constitute an offer to sell, or a solicitation of an offer to buy, any securities or related financial instruments. This article may contain forward-looking statements. Readers should refer to information contained on our website at for additional information regarding forward-looking statements and certain risks associated with them.