Our utmost priority is the health and safety of RioCan’s employees, tenants and customers. Our underlying stability and the strength of our leadership, assets, operations and balance sheet will allow us to mitigate the impact COVID-19 has on RioCan’s stakeholders.
RioCan’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic is guided by the World Health Organization and Health Canada. We continue to monitor and act according to direction provided by the Federal, Provincial and Municipal governments to control the spread of COVID-19. With over 90% of our properties either grocery-anchored, urban/mixed-use, or open-air centers, our sites are beacons of the community. We are committed to supporting all of our stakeholders through this difficult time and have implemented several protocols to ensure we maintain a high level of responsibility, access and support. Details regarding RioCan’s response to the pandemic are as follows:
Business Continuity and Crisis Preparedness:
RioCan is built to withstand and address situations such as this. Having disposed of more than 10 million square feet of secondary market assets since 2017, we now have Canada’s preeminent major market, mixed-use portfolio.
- More than 90% of our annual rental revenue is derived from Canada’s major markets, and more than 50% from the Greater Toronto Area.
- We have significant diversity in our income, our tenants have strong covenants and are primarily necessity-based; exactly the types of tenants that Canadians are relying on right now.
- Our consistently strong balance sheet provides the flexibility and power necessary to help insulate RioCan in the face of broader market volatility.
RioCan is very much prepared and has business continuity plans in place to provide for immediate and effective response in the instance of various circumstances arising from COVID-19. Our systems are up and running and our teams are connected and operating. Our focus is on operating efficiently and effectively with a priority on safety, and doing our part to flatten the COVID-19 curve with vigilant protocols to mitigate virus spread.
RioCan’s pre-established Crisis Management Team, which consists of senior executives from each discipline within RioCan as well as our National Director, Health, Safety and Emergency Management has been fully enacted. The team is:
- Executing against a COVID-19 Pandemic Plan to ensure business continuity
- Prepared for immediate and effective response should one of our properties or places of work be directly impacted by COVID-19
- Where mandated, only essential services remain open at our shopping centres
- In the interest of preserving access to key goods and services, where permitted, our shopping centres continue to operate at regular business hours with the following adjustments:
- Retailers have been provided flexibility with respect to adjusting their operating hours
- All events and programming at the shopping centres have been cancelled or postponed
- Cleaning of all frequent touch points has been increased, including entrance door handles, and washroom fixtures etc.
- Common seating areas such as the tables and chairs in Food Courts have been removed or access has been restricted
- Certain shopping centre services, such as stroller rental, typically provided by our Guest Services teams have been eliminated
- Sanitizer units for guests and employees to use have been added, and we continue to work toward installing more hand sanitizer units in common areas
- We are actively engaged in ongoing communication with all tenants and employees advising them of our protocols, policies and recommended practices to keep them safe and mitigate transmission
- Tenant Support:
- We recognize the unexpected financial challenges our tenants may experience due to COVID-19 related business slowdown and interruption. We are adapting our business practices in real time to balance our tenant’s needs and ensure we are responsibly supporting the well-being of all our constituents, in the near and long term
- In the immediate term, RioCan is offering those independent commercial tenants who have requested rent relief, an automatic 60-day, interest-free rent deferral, payable in the subsequent 12 months
RioCan Living Residential Rental Buildings:
- The professional third party property management teams that RioCan has engaged for our RioCan Living residential rental portfolio have implemented a number of initiatives to ensure the health, safety and security of employees and residential tenants including:
- Increased cleaning intensity and frequency
- Cancellation or postponement of all tenant gatherings and closure of amenity spaces
- Adjustments to leasing tour strategies, including the introduction of virtual tours
- We have implemented a work from home mandate for all RioCan employees whose duties can be fulfilled remotely
- We have restricted all business travel and in-person interaction
- We have facilitated access to RioCan’s Employee Assistance Program to help employees manage any anxiety and stress they may be experiencing
- We provide frequent communication from the leadership team through a number of channels including email updates, FAQs and conference calls that:
- Provide real-time information and updates regarding protocols
- Keep RioCan employees connected to the business and each other, by providing insight into how RioCan is supporting tenants, employees, our communities and our business through the crisis
This is a highly dynamic situation. As the COVID-19 situation evolves, RioCan will continue to monitor direction from the World Health Organization, the Public Health Agency of Canada, and Federal, Provincial and Municipal governments, and we remain committed to implementing appropriate actions and providing updates to all stakeholders, guests, tenants and employees as they become available.