2 minute read time
December 7, 2021

Lines wind through food courts, the PATH is packed, and you’ve got no chance of finding a seat on the subway: Life has returned to Downtown Toronto.

Spurred by confidence in the economy and rebounding employment levels, businesses have begun to return to the office en masse. Since August, foot traffic in the city’s large downtown office towers has increased by as much as 20%.




In Central Toronto (which includes Midtown), a staggering 2.5 million sq. ft. of office space was leased in the second half of 2021. In November alone the area saw 770,000 sq. ft. of leasing activity.

Not only has the rate of new leasing risen in recent months, but it has also surpassed pre-pandemic levels. In 2019, Central Toronto saw an average of 380,000 sq. ft. of space leased per month; every month since July 2021 has met or surpassed that level.


"There is much more going on in the market than many would be led to believe."

In fact, there has been as much leasing activity over the last five months as there was in the 15-month period from April 2020 to June 2021.

Large occupiers in particular are vying for quality office space. Currently, there are six requirements in Downtown Toronto from occupiers who are seeking 100,000 sq. ft. of space or more.

The evidence is clear, says Jon Ramscar, CBRE’s Toronto Downtown Managing Director: a turnaround in Toronto’s office market is “well underway.”

“There is much more going on in the market than many would be led to believe,” Ramscar says. “The flurry of recent leasing deals through the fall, in line with many companies returning to the office alongside all the occupiers out there looking for big blocks of space, underscores the feeling you get from walking around that Toronto’s downtown core is coming back to life.”

In addition to the rise in leasing activity, occupiers themselves have begun to signal their confidence in returning to the office. Scotiabank and Manulife have said they’ll have employees back in January 2022, and others, including TD, BMO and RBC have instituted a mandatory vaccination policy for their offices.

“As a city, we have taken a significant step in recent months. Occupancy and foot traffic is building, and you can see what a difference that is making to downtown life,” says Ramscar.

“We’re likely going to build on this momentum in the early part of 2022 with a number of other significant office leasing transactions in the works and the growing number of new tech companies establishing a foothold in Toronto.”

Leasing Activity Surges as Workers Return

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