Not everyone is ‘sold’ on Calgary’s economic recovery

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WATCH: After two long years in recession, Statistics Canada is painting a much rosier picture of Calgary's economy. The oil and gas sector is leading the rebound, with Alberta seeing the highest GDP growth among the provinces in 2017. But as Sarah Offin reports, not everyone is celebrating just yet – May 4, 2018

Spring is supposed to be high time for the real estate market, but – at least in Calgary — that’s not the case this year.

“What we’ve seen is essentially a January market in through March and April for a lot of different reasons,” realtor Bev Clark said.

“There’s been a tsunami of interesting things happening: we have the mortgage rate issue, we have of course the Calgary weather issue, and then, again we have the general economic feeling in Calgary right now which is a bit of doom and gloom.”

READ MORE: Calgarians warned to brace for a tough 2018

About 1,500 homes were sold in Calgary last month compared to 1,900 in April of last year. New lending rules only adding to the chill, forcing both buyers and sellers to adjust their expectations.

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“The stress test is meaning that people are having to spend about 20 per cent less than they had anticipated or hope to spend,” Clark said.

The city also is making some adjustments while it waits for recovery. Monthly parking rates are now being advertised in places where only hourly rates or daily rates once existed. The Calgary Parking Authority said that’s because demand is down due to high office vacancy rates remaining in the downtown core.

At the Calgary Food Bank, meanwhile, demand is just as high as it was at the peak of the recession.

“We’re not seeing recovery in the same way that is being reported to the media,” Calgary Food Bank CEO James McAra said.

While it has seen fewer families needing food hampers, many individuals and skilled workers – even those with new jobs – are still struggling.

“Their new opportunities don’t have the same level of pay and so now they have to readjust everything,” McAra said.

READ MORE: ‘The sharing economy is not a fad’: Calgary businessman reimagines how we work

But Alberta’s unemployment rate is at its lowest level since August 2015 and the GDP is on the rise. It’s data many hope will soon translate into better sales, higher wages and perhaps a little prosperity.


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