Alberta leads Canada through next wave of construction – Oilsands projects help push growth

A new report released Thursday says Alberta will lead Canada’s construction industry through the next decade, with major new oilsands projects and residential work driving job growth in virtually every year between now and 2023.

BuildForce Canada’s 2014-2023 Construction and Maintenance Looking Forward forecast said the pace of expansion has resumed, with construction employment across all markets growing past the 2008 peak by 2013.

Major resource and engineering projects lead non-residential job growth in every year over the next decade. The start-up of new major oilsands projects this year and hiring related to flood damage repair will boost hiring in 2014.

“While Alberta’s construction industry has adapted well to conditions to date, there may be recruiting challenges,” said Rosemary Sparks, executive director of BuildForce Canada, in a news release. “There’s stiff competition for skilled labour in other provinces, and meeting local needs won’t be easy. As retirements rise, we are also facing the potential loss of thousands of skilled and experienced workers.”

The report said Alberta will need to replace up to 45,000 workers, as up to 22 per cent of its workforce retires over the next decade.

It also said that Alberta leads the demand for skilled and specialized labour in major projects across Canada: the oilsands industry matures and capacity grows larger, shifting employment from new capital projects to increased ongoing maintenance work and sustaining capital projects over the long term; industrial, transportation, electricity generation and transmission and pipeline work add to labour demands with most of the current scheduled projects adding jobs from 2015 to 2019; commercial and institutional activity grows slowly from 2016 to 2019 and then provides a steady increase in jobs from 2020 to 2023; and residential construction spending and employment will exceed the 2007 peak, with a rise in renovations and repairs.

“Alberta’s skilled labour requirements far exceed those of other provinces, and that makes building a strong, permanent workforce a must,” said Sparks. “There’s a real need to continue promoting skilled trades careers as well as ensuring training and retention programs are sufficient to support the next generation of workers.”


© Copyright (c) The Calgary Herald

Calgary housing affordability improves despite high prices

Calgary is one of the few markets in Canada where affordability conditions look better than their historical norms, despite continued price growth, and it’s keeping housing in the city attractive relative to other major centres in the country, says a new report by RBC Economics Research.

The Housing Trends and Affordability Report, released on Tuesday, said homebuyer demand in Calgary continues to benefit from attractive affordability levels, a hot labour market, a fast-rising population and a booming provincial economy.

“This is not to say that home prices are cheap in the area – they are in fact the third-highest in the country after Vancouver and Toronto – it is instead a reflection of just how strong household incomes are in Calgary,” said Craig Wright, senior vice-president and chief economist for RBC.

The RBC affordability measures show the proportion of median pre-tax household income that would be required to service the cost of mortgage payments, property taxes and utilities.

In the fourth quarter, RBC measures for Calgary eased by 0.3 percentage points to 34.2 per cent for two-storey homes and by 0.2 percentage points to 33.8 per cent for bungalows. The measure for condominium apartments inched slightly higher by 0.1 percentage points to 20.0 per cent.

“Calgary’s housing sector remains strong and stable as demonstrated by the steady and encouraging rate of price growth alongside the consistent market activity and buyer confidence we are currently seeing, comparable to what we experienced last year. While prices continue to increase, buyer’s confidence and enthusiasm has remained unwavering, as sales activity consistently climbs alongside the housing prices this year,” said Kaitlyn Gottlieb, a realtor with Century 21 Bamber Realty Ltd. in Calgary.

“The luxury market continues to have a considerable influence on the upward sales curve coupled with Calgary’s continued growth economically; the upswing in oil and gas prices; and our substantial inner-city development. With another strong year of forecasted net migration, we are seeing an influx of multi-family housing, as infills and four-plexes take the place of previous rental properties, helping to drive up prices through new development in established inner-city neighbourhoods.”

Gottlieb said Calgary remains an affluent city with a strong economy, attracting higher than expected net migration and enticing both local and foreign investors with attractive interest rates, limited rental availability and high economic growth which is driving both prices and activity upwards as the market moves into the busy spring season.

In Alberta, affordability measures declined by 0.5 percentage points to 34.6 per cent for two-storey homes and by 0.2 percentage points to 32.7 per cent for bungalows. The measure for condominium apartments edged slightly higher by 0.1 percentage points to 19.9 per cent.

“Affordability levels in Alberta continue to compare favourably against both historical averages in the province and nationally,” said the RBC report. “We expect that constructive affordability conditions, a booming provincial economy, and strong population growth will continue to fuel demand for housing in Alberta in the year ahead.”

Nationally, the affordability measures for both bungalows and two-storey homes edged lower by 0.2 percentage points to 43.1 per cent and 48.7 per cent respectively. The measure for standard condominiums fell 0.1 percentage points to 28.0 per cent.


© Copyright (c) The Calgary Herald

Calgary housing prices forecast to rise in short-term – Year-over-year growth of 5-6.9% predicted

 The short-term expectation for year-over-year MLS price growth for the existing home market in Calgary is one of the highest in Canada, according to a report released Monday by the Conference Board of Canada.

The board said Calgary housing prices in the short-term can expect to see annual growth in the range of five to 6.9 per cent as the city is in a seller’s market at this time.

The report said the seasonally-adjusted annual rate of sales in the city in February was 29,844, up 6.6 per cent from January and 13.7 per cent year-over-year.

However, listings of 39,564 are down 3.8 per cent both on an annual and a monthly basis.

The price in February was up to $455,785, representing a 5.8 per cent hike from a year ago and a 1.4 per cent increase from the previous month.


© Copyright (c) The Calgary Herald