Friday, January 22, 2010
the rough economic seas of the past year have touched every city in canada, and while some have experienced extreme swells and dips, others have had a smoother ride. calgarians have been relatively lucky – the city has remained a vibrant, attractive destination for businesses and residents alike.
calgary’s vitality could be attributed to its young population. With an average age of 34, calgary residents are among the most entrepreneurial in canada. the city’s workforce has the highest productivity and participation rates in the country, and trend-watchers predict that, even in the face of a volatile economy, the city will continue to grow.
calgary’s economy is closely tied tothe energy sector and in the past few years, things in this city have been hot, hot, hot. the recession, some experts point out, has really only served to slow things here down to a more normal pace. calgary economic Development continues to report that the city is still growing, with healthy job prospects, high average weekly earnings, continued construction, and investment in long-term projects.
house prices, like job prospects, are still a hot topic of conversation in calgary. the average house price rose slightly to around $446,000 in august 2009, marking the first increase since February 2008 and continuing calgary’s reputation as one of the priciest markets in canada. Summer 2009 also saw less inventory and fewer sales, though experts predict the market will remain stable and balanced. condo minium construction has slowed considerably, and buyers can thank market saturation for lower prices this year – in august 2009, the average condo netted $283,330. though housing starts were down in 2009, there’s still plenty of choice for those looking for a new community in any quadrant of the city, or new construction in older, established neighbourhoods with easy access to downtown, where infills have become popular.
the less frenetic pace of the market has meant some good news for renters, in that vacancy rates have eased. calgary’s inner-city neighbourhoods are filled with apartment-to-condo conversions. canada Mortgage and housing corporation (cMhc) estimates that calgarians renting a two-bedroom apartment could expect to pay about $1,100 a month in 2009, and that while rents are still among the highest in the country, vacancy rates eased slightly to just over four per cent this past april.
calgary’s previously hot job market has not been immune to the economic downturn. the city’s economy relies heavily on the energy sector, and a lower demand for energy commodities has resulted in fewer jobs in oil and gas. In May 2008, the city’s unemployment rate rose to 6.6 per cent, though summer 2009 has seen a rebound. even with fewer jobs, average weekly earnings for albertans rose 5 per cent year over year. a solid job market continues to attract people from across the country. Still, many expect that calgary’s status as a “head office” city will help bolster its recovery. and some see the slowdown as an opportunity to set things right after the struggle to find employees – many businesses are using the time to build a solid base that will help them weather future storms.
When the workday is over, calgarians have plenty of options when it comes to leisure time. the city boasts a network of bicycle paths and trails, and over 8,000 hectares of parks and open spaces offer a way to escape without leaving the city. the mountains, with their resort towns, ski hills, and hiking trails are just a short drive away. calgary’s vibrant arts scene includes local theatres, opera, a philharmonic, literary and film festivals, and major concerts. areas like kensington and uptown 17th avenue are host to an array of boutiques and restaurants. and with the city’s booming population comes major retailers, including high-end brands like Sephora and coach. holt renfrew recently expanded its downtown location, becoming an anchor for eaton centre. a $200 million expansion of one of the city’s flagship malls, chinook centre, includes plans for Western canada’s first apple Store.
all signs point to growth. as calgary deals with its graduation to “big city” status, one thing’s clear: opportunities abound for work and play here – something calgarians have known for years. MTA