Benefits and challenges of booming economy
With Strathcona’s unprecedented growth comes many new factors
by Dave S. Clark
Wednesday January 24, 2007
It’s the best of times. It’s the worst of times.
That was the phrase that Economic Development manager Gerry Gabinet used to describe the economy in Sherwood Park and in Alberta.
Gabinet gave a presentation about the outlook of the economy of the region at a Sherwood Park and District chamber of Commerce luncheon last week.
“Alberta is the shining star across Canada,” said Gabinet, noting double-digit growth in the retail market in the last year.
Gabinet also discussed all the future oil upgraders and other projects that are occurring in the Industrial Heartland.
“The Industrial Heartland is an overnight success, 10 years in the making,” he said.
He said when all of the upgraders that are proposed or under construction are completed, the Industrial Heartland will be producing about 1.4 million barrels of oil per day. That includes upgraders within Strathcona as well as in Sturgeon County.
Gabinet also talked about the other impacts the Industrial Heartland has had on the area. For example, Synenco, which is building an upgrader in Sturgeon County, is also moving its head office from Calgary to Sherwood Park. The move will bring about 200 jobs with it.
It’s moves like these that will see the population of Sherwood Park continue to grow, he said. There were 55,000 people in Sherwood Park in 2005, and Gabinet said the county is projecting a population of 67,000 in 2010. By 2015, he said the population is projected to reach 77,000.
With the population growth, also comes more demand for housing in the region, which has had a significant effect on the market.
“We’ve seen some substantial growth (in residential house prices), and that is reflected throughout the region,” he said. He also noted that the house prices in Sherwood Park have been growing at a faster rate than the prices in Edmonton.
Gabinet talked about several new developments and businesses that are moving into the area, such as Sherwood Park Chrysler, which is planned to be the one of the biggest Chrysler dealerships in Canada, and is just one of several dealerships being built in Sherwood Park.
Hyundai has also opened a dealership in the Shivam Park automall. The Toyota dealership in the automall is also scheduled to open this year. Gabinet said Honda has purchased land in the automall and is now planning to build a dealership.
“People actually have the opportunity to buy local from car dealerships now,” he said.
The commercial real estate in Sherwood Park is a very hot commodity, according to Gabinet. He said two large 86,000 square foot office buildings, which are being built by TransAmerica, are already 50 per cent leased and the foundation still hasn’t been poured.
But those are just some of the reasons why Strathcona is going through the best of times. Gabinet also talked about why this is also the worst of times for the region.
“Inflation is rearing its ugly head now,” he said, noting that rising costs can cause a plethora of problems.
“(Businesses) are having problems attracting labour,” said Gabinet, noting that the Taco Bell on Baseline Road has been closed for several months because the owners couldn’t afford staff to man it. He also mentioned Tim Hortons on Wye Road now has to close for four hours per night as there isn’t enough staff to keep it open.