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Ontario’s Self-Storage Industry: A Growing Market Fueled by Remote Work and Small Dwellings

Ontario’s self-storage industry is on the rise, having grown by more than 4.2 million square feet in the last three years alone. This trend has been particularly pronounced in Toronto, Ottawa, and Mississauga, three of Ontario’s most densely populated cities. With factors like small dwellings, remote working, downsizing, and renovation projects driving the expansion of the self-storage sector, it’s likely that the need for storage space will continue to grow in the coming years.

According to Greg Martino, Vice President and Chief Valuation and Standards Officer for the Municipal Property Assessment Corporation (MPAC), which recently released data on self-storage space in Ontario, the growth in self-storage is helping to support what we’re seeing in terms of small dwellings that are being built. Martino believes that more people are working from home and require storage space for items that have accumulated in their spaces. Others may be downsizing or doing renovations to their homes, which creates a need for storage.

In addition, the self-storage sector is attracting institutional investors who are seeking higher returns outside of the traditional office or retail markets. Self-storage is becoming more modern, with multi-storey, fully enclosed, climate-controlled facilities that offer 24-hour access, drive-in bays, and enhanced security becoming increasingly popular. These modern facilities are especially prevalent in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA) but are still uncommon in many other parts of Canada.

Despite the growth of the self-storage sector, the self-storage need is far higher than supply, according to Jason Koonin, CEO of Bluebird Storage Management. Koonin believes that even more self-storage space would be under construction in Ontario if not for the length it takes for projects to be approved, as well as high land costs, taxes, and development charges. Koonin also points out that some office and retail properties that have struggled with high vacancy rates could be considered for redevelopment and transformed into self-storage facilities, though this may not be as easy as some might think.

Overall, the outlook for the self-storage industry in Ontario is positive. While growth may not increase at the same high rate as it has over the past three years, it is expected to continue increasing alongside the high-density residential construction sector.

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