April 2012 Alberta Economic Fundamentals

Ally

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#2
Harper bets on oilsands to revive Canada's fortunes




EDMONTON - It may as well be called the Gateway budget.




If there were any lingering doubts about Stephen Harper`s commitment to opening up Asian markets for Alberta`s bitumen, they were extinguished with Jim Flaherty`s budget.




By moving to speed up reviews of major resource projects ` notably Enbridge`s controversial Northern Gateway oilsands pipeline to the West Coast ` while taking a pointed shot at the project`s critics, Thursday`s federal budget thrusts the oilsands to the top of Canada`s economic growth strategy.




In a week that saw Research In Motion, Canada`s humbled high-tech giant, plumbing even deeper depths, Flaherty unveiled a prudent, austerity-lite budget that champions the development of Western Canada`s natural resources as the best route back to federal budget surpluses.





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#3
Resource sector's bright ideas power Canada's economies




EDMONTON - High-tech is hip. Energy, mining, farming, forestry and fishing? Not so much.




High-tech has cool corporate stars like um, Research In Motion, Smart Technologies and Ballard Power.




The resource sector? It has creaky `old economy` dinosaurs like Suncor, Barrick and Potash Corp. that just make bags of money, year in and year out.





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#4
Tightening of supply in Calgary's real estate market



CALGARY ` Calgary`s real estate market has seen a tightening of supply in the first quarter of this year with sales increasing and new listings declining.





According to the Calgary Real Estate Board, the first quarter of this year has seen 4,970 MLS residential sales in the city, up 7.32 per cent from the same period last year. New listings have dropped by 7.24 per cent to 8,765 and the average sale price for the first three months increased by 1.79 per cent to $416,679.





The sales-to-new listings ratio of 0.57 per cent in the first quarter was up 15.7 per cent from last year.





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#5
Calgary house sales surge in March





CALGARY ` Calgary`s housing market picked up steam in March as MLS sales surged compared with a year ago ` led by stunning growth in the single-family category.




According to the Calgary Real Estate Board, total residential MLS sales in the city for the month was 2,167, up 12.63 per cent from March 2011. Also, the average MLS sale price increased by 3.69 per cent to $422,256.




In the single-family market, sales soared to 1,576, up 17.26 per cent from a year ago while the average sale price jumped by 2.36 per cent to $472,464 ` that`s the highest it`s been since June 2011 when it was $479,580.






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#6
Keystone approval won't stop plans for Northern Gateway: Harper





WASHINGTON ` Prime Minister Stephen Harper says Canada will not abandon plans for a western pipeline to ship oil to Asia even if the United States suddenly allows the Keystone XL pipeline to be constructed in that country.







Harper told an audience at an American think-tank Monday it is crucial for Canada to avoid being tied down to the U.S. as our only oil customer.







He said this is harmful in two ways: the price of Canadian oil has already been devalued because this country is seen as a "captive supplier"; and Canada's economic health is put in jeopardy by the fact that the U.S. could some day stop importing the oil.






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#7
Departing economic agency chief sees labour troubles ahead




EDMONTON - It was his 60th birthday on the weekend, but Ron Gilbertson doesn`t know if there were any fireworks.




`I might have missed the fireworks,` says Gilbertson, who is retiring as president and CEO of Edmonton Economic Development Corporation (EEDC).




`I go to bed early. I have a very intensive job. I often don`t get home before 10 p.m.`




Gilbertson signed on with EEDC for five years, but has told his board he will stay on until a replacement is found.





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#8
Calgary office vacancy rate dives from a year ago





CALGARY ` Calgary`s office market has seen its vacancy rate plunge in the past year with demand for space continuing to be strong.




`Calgary has been the most resilient commercial real estate market in Canada and continues to perform extremely well with strong economic and job growth,` said Greg Kwong, executive vice-president and regional managing director for Alberta for CBRE.




The delivery of The Bow skyscraper, and its 1.9 million square feet, this year has temporarily put a pause in the decline of the downtown vacancy rate, which had been in `freefall` since reaching a high of 15.7 per cent in the second quarter of 2010, he said.






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#9
Sales office opening heralds next phase of East Village redevelopment in Calgary





CALGARY ` Life in Calgary`s East Village is about to get a whole lot more glamourous.




Sales offices for the first two massive condominium projects are open for business.




One of the highrises, appropriately called First, is proposed as an 18-storey, 191-unit tower.






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#10
Fort McMurray housing market balanced in first quarter



FORT MCMURRAY,
AB, April 5, 2012 /CNW/ - The Royal LePage House Price Survey released today showed that Fort McMurray is in a balanced real estate market.




In the first quarter of 2012, detached bungalows sold for an average price of $635,000, while standard two-storey homes sold on average for $710,000. Standard condominiums, traditionally the housing type at the most accessible price point, sold for an average price of $370,000.




"Market activity in the Fort McMurray area is balanced and consistent with levels from last year," said Marian Barry, broker and owner of Royal LePage True North Realty. "Continuous growth in our region's job sector and growing migration levels has helped fuel our real estate market - a trend we expect to continue throughout the coming months."





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#11
Oilsands to swell by 73%






FORT MCMURRAY, ALTA. - As the rest of Canada struggles with unemployment, Alberta`s oilsands industry is about to expand faster than previously thought, and the province may have to look outside the country to tackle its impending labour shortage.




According to a report released by the Petroleum Human Resources Council of Canada, the province`s oil sector, which accounts for 15% of Canada`s oil and gas industry, will grow by 73% in 2021.




The province directly employed 20,000 workers in 2011. By the start of the next decade, the council predicts that there will be some 34,600 workers employed by Alberta`s oil and gas industry alone.





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Ally

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#12
Federal budget policies no help to oilsands




You're not helping, Mr. Prime Minister, you're hurting.




Stephen Harper is generally considered a good friend of the oilpatch, but there are times when the prime minister goes too far with his small-government fiscal conservatism and otherwise well-intentioned efforts do more harm than good.




The latest budget from Harper's government, for example, fast-tracks environmental reviews for big industrial projects, slashes spending for Environment Canada and cut the entire budget for the respected National Roundtable on the Environment and the Economy.





Finance Minister Jim Flaherty said the current environmental review process is threatening the economy.






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#13
Calgary housing prices flat: Royal LePage





CALGARY ` Calgary`s housing market remained generally flat in the first quarter due to ample housing supply, says a report released Thursday by Royal LePage.




Average prices for detached bungalows increased a modest 1.9 per cent year-over-year to $422,989 due to a lack of inventory, it said.




But Calgary`s standard two-storey homes and standard condominiums witnessed modest price declines of 1.2 and 2.6 per cent, respectively, `as demand was met with a sufficient amount of listings.`






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#14
Hands in high demand for busy rigs




CALGARY ` Life couldn`t be busier for well-servicing companies such as Concord Well Servicing, a division of CCS Corp. Rig hands and rig crews are in extremely high demand across the industry.




CCS, which announced this week it is changing its name to Tervita, has a workforce of about 4,200, hired 2,000 people last year and currently has 1,000 job openings. It plans to hire 2,000 people this year and every year for at least the next five years, Close says.





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#15
Alberta to lead nation in growth, getting big boost from strong oil: TD




OTTAWA - The TD Bank says persistently strong oil prices are giving the economies of resource-rich prairie provinces a turbo-boost.




The bank says in a new provincial economic outlook that Alberta will grow a robust 3.6 per cent this year, well above the 2.2 average for the country.




That's also a full point more than previously expected in the bank's January forecast.




TD says the impetus is a changed outlook for oil prices, with global crude now anticipated to average about US$100 a barrel for the rest of the year.




Saskatchewan will also benefit, but to a lesser extent, and will see its economy expand by 3.1 per cent.





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Ally

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#16
We are not in Jed's world anymore




Those of us who are willing (and embarrassed) to admit that we watched the 1960s sitcom The Beverly Hillbillies are having strange flashbacks these days.




In the opening theme, Jed Clampett, the redneck rube played by Buddy Ebsen, makes finding oil look so easy. `Texas Tea` starts bubbling out of the ground after Jed accidentally fires a shotgun into the dirt. The lucky oil strike makes Jed rich; he moves his family to Beverly Hills ` and America moves one step closer to energy independence.




These days, pundits are making it sound like finding and producing oil in North America is as effortless as Jed`s OK Oil Company. Every week now, new analyst reports are talking about the massive potential of light, tight oil (LTO). I too have diarized the emergence of this trend in many of our columns, as early as 18 months ago. For example, last December, I suggested growth in continental LTO was going to be among the top energy stories of 2012. But the hype is going well beyond what I believe, and even what Jed could have imagined. And, is bringing to the forefront issues Jed didn`t have to concern himself with: energy security and infrastructure.





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Ally

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#17
New streamlined business tax to merge in Calgary





The city is scrubbing its business tax in favour of consolidating it with non-residential property taxes.




The move to streamline both taxes into one over the next decade has benefits for both businesses and the city, by reducing administrative costs and improving efficiency.




City council voted in favour on Monday of consolidating the taxes.




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Ally

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#18
City planning department proposes system to prioritize growth





CALGARY ` A new city hall`s system for `prioritizing` growth in certain parts of Calgary stands to favour inner-city redevelopment projects over new suburbs, a developer groups warn.




As part of the city`s long-in-the-works plan to shift the balance away from sprawl-like growth and the public debt it causes, the planning department has proposed a new scoring system to determine which project areas are first in line for planners` attention and infrastructure upgrades.




Projects closest to existing or future transit get high consideration, as do areas which need little or no city spending on additional water services, sewers or roads.






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#19
Companies admit to illegal activity to finance real estate purchase near Calgary





A number of real estate companies have admitted to illegally trading and distributing securities, the Alberta Securities Commission says.




In an agreed statement of facts, Westside Land Corp., David Brez snyak, West Pointe Park Ltd., Avion Park Ltd., Eastridge Park Ltd., Eastridge Park II Ltd., Tovero Ridge Park Ltd., and Foxcreek Park Ltd. acknowledged they breached securities laws by selling undivided interests in land and corporate shares without filing a prospectus or registering with the ASC.






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Ally

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#20
Alberta oils threatened by surging U.S. output





Life moves pretty fast. If you don`t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.`
` Ferris Bueller, from the 1986 movie, Ferris Bueller`s Day Off



Our politicians could learn a thing or two from Ferris Bueller, that wise-cracking teenage truant of yesteryear.




Life does move pretty fast these days ` so fast that our politicians can`t seem to keep up with reality.




While Alberta`s party leaders dream up new ways to spend future budget surpluses in a bid to win votes, the foundation on which those surpluses are based grows more questionable by the day.





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