Edmonton Chief Economist: Economic Downturn Good for Construction

Posted by Gurpreet Ghatehora on Monday, December 28th, 2015 at 10:51am.

Edmonton’s top economist says that Edmonton’s Ice District, a hot bed of planning, construction, and development, is happening, in part, because of the recent oil market meltdown, and not in spite of it. The district, long the target of real estate investment and home to numerous projects that will define the city’s skyline, has left many residents wondering how the project is continuing. After all, falling oil prices have had a mostly negative impact on the entire province, cutting jobs, lowering housing prices, and more. But according to John Rose, Edmonton’s chief economist, it’s the perfect time to build.

“This is exactly the right time for this kind of development,” Rose told the Globe & Mail in a recent interview, “Because with the slower oil market we have the manpower and the equipment and material to undertake this project.” With more people here in Edmonton looking for work, as opposed to moving to camps up north in the oil sands, the falling oil prices have led to a sort of “brain drain” from Fort McMurray to Edmonton. Those with the skills this kind of development needs are on-hand, and ready to work.

The Ice District will be home to numerous condos and multipurpose buildings on top of the highly anticipated new stadium to house The Oilers. Plans include the Stantec Tower, planned to be the highest Canadian skyscraper west of Toronto. Despite questions about who will fill these new buildings’ vacancies, Rose is confident the focus on real estate development will help the city in the long run as well. “The additional residential units will provide a solid foundations for services and amenities,” he says, “And get rid of a few of those surface parking spots while were at it!”

According to city officials there is another $2.5 billion worth of development and construction that has yet to even begin in the neighbourhood, making it one of the hottest districts in the city. For anyone hoping to move in, now is the time to start looking. Housing prices around the area, despite general downwards trends around the rest of the city, have actually raised between 2 and fifteen percent.

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