UPDATED: Informa Canada has announced it has postponed three of its major real estate conferences, in Vancouver and Edmonton, due to precautions being taken to prevent the spread of COVID-19 (novel coronavirus).
The firm announced late Wednesday the latest move, postponing the Edmonton Real Estate Forum and combining it with the Calgary RE Forum which will take place on Oct. 21. It will now be known as the Alberta RE Forum.
The Vancouver Real Estate Forum on March 31 and the Western Canada Apartment Investment Conference on April 1 have also both been postponed. The Vancouver forum will now take place Sept. 30 at the Vancouver Convention Centre; Informa says it is developing a new strategy to deliver the WCAIC.
Informa’s nationwide series of forums and conferences are the largest such events across Canada. As of March 12, none of its other forums or conferences are affected.
“A significant trend during the past few days in particular has seen an acceleration in the number of companies issuing travel constraint policies on their employees,” said an update posted on the Vancouver RE Forum website when the original postponements were announced.
“Since 30% of attendees to the Vancouver Real Estate Forum have traditionally been from outside of B.C., the travel bans pose a major impact on a key element of our events – national investors who attend to update themselves about the markets and network with local real estate contacts.
“Over 50% of attendees to the Western Canada Apartment Investment Conference have traditionally been from outside of B.C.
“As a result, the travel bans pose a major impact on a key element of our events – the ability of individuals from Alberta and beyond to attend, update themselves about the markets and network with contacts from across the West and the rest of the country.”
Vancouver forums rescheduled
Informa announced the postponements on March 6. On March 9, Informa updated its website with the Sept. 30 date for the Vancouver RE Forum, and noted “another strategy is being developed for those planning to attend the Western Canada Apartment Investment Conference.”
“Having spent many months preparing for these events with our advisory committee, chair, speakers, sponsors and attendees, we are genuinely disappointed to bring this news to you. However, we believe that this is the right decision given the current circumstances.”
A few days earlier, Informa had announced a series of measures to mitigate possible effects of COVID-19. It continues to restrict registrations for all its conferences to residents of Canada and North America.
More than 99 per cent of attendees are based in Canada, so that precaution is not expected to have a major impact.
Other Informa events are scheduled for Quebec City, Winnipeg, Montreal and Toronto through the first week of June.
Because the COVID-19 virus could have varied impacts on different markets, Informa plans to provide updates as necessary for each of the events on their respective webpages.
WHO, pandemic precautions
The World Health Organization on Wednesday also upgraded its status on the virus, officially declaring it a global pandemic.
Members of the public are being asked to take the usual measures recommended to prevent cold or flu viruses during the winter. Anyone who displays symptoms of the virus is asked to self-quarantine and if required, seek medical attention.
The World Health Organization has provided a number of recommendations for good personal hygiene measures, which include proper hand-washing and covering your mouth and nose when coughing or sneezing.
BOMA Canada pandemic guide
Meanwhile, BOMA Canada’s 2019 Guide to Pandemic Planning is available as a tool for property owners and managers to offer preparedness recommendations and ready them for pandemics.
The guide provides information on: pandemic plans for properties; employee health and safety considerations; the physical environment; communicating during a pandemic; supplies and suppliers; information technology considerations; security; and legal considerations for property owners and managers.
The guide was published for BOMA Canada members in response to the 2003 SARS outbreak in Toronto. It was updated in 2017.
EDITOR’S NOTE: This article will continually be updated to include updated information about Vancouver, Edmonton, Calgary and WCAIC conferences. The latest update was March 12 at 8:15 a.m.
— With files from Don Wilcox