WINNIPEG --  The COVID-19 pandemic has forced many people to slow down, and with that, it appears some Manitobans may be looking for a more serene lifestyle.

 A community in southeastern Manitoba said it’s seeing an increase in people wanting to call the Rural Municipality of Piney home.

“Last year, we saw a total of two lot sales in total, and then this year, within 10 days we sold four lots,” said CAO Martin Van Osch. 

He attributes the uptick to the pandemic. 

“We provide an environment out here that people were taking note of,” said Van Osch. “With COVID-19 and the requirement for social distancing and all these different things, this was an escape for them.”

While the R.M. of Piney is seeing more prospective buyers, the Manitoba Real Estate Association said it’s still too early to say whether this is a trend.

“In the past six to eight weeks, people have definitely had more time than they ever had to research different possibilities, maybe outside the city, as opposed to always looking in the city,” said MREA President Glen Tosh. 

He said some developments in the province are getting more attention because of the cheaper land. For instance, in the R.M. of Piney, you can get a two-acre lot for under $20,000 with added perks if you build within three years. 

While some people may be looking outside city limits for a quieter lifestyle, Tosh said there’s still interest in the urban environment. 

“We have seen over the past seven to ten days a significant increase in the amount of traffic in people shopping in some of our more urban centres: Winnipeg, Brandon, etc.,” said Tosh. 

Meantime, Van Osch said there are two subdivisions in the works in his R.M. -- one in Sandilands, and the other in Woodridge. He said the timeline for the Woodridge development has already been moved up.

“We anticipated that we would have to open it up this year, and our completion date was the end of summer, beginning of fall,” said Van Osch. “Now, we’re looking at having it done early summer.” ​