Beetle threat small: Realtors

Realtors in Rocky Mountain House think a warning that mountain pine beetles could undermine local property values is unfounded.

Mountain pine beetles kill trees by boring through the bark into the phloem layer on which they feed and in which eggs are laid.

Realtors in Rocky Mountain House think a warning that mountain pine beetles could undermine local property values is unfounded.

“We’re not reliant on any one industry,” said Terri Kalyn, owner-broker of Century 21 Westcountry Realty.

“We’ve got agriculture, we’re high in tourism here, gas and oil are still a big part of what we do here. Forestry is a part of it, but certainly does not control our marketplace or our real estate.”

Bill Enticknap, owner-broker of Re/Max Rocky Mountain House, concurred.

“I would have to think that it would not have any impact on our property values.

“Regardless of what they say, our economy is basically driven by the oil and gas industry. We have tourism and we have agriculture, etc., but we’re mainly oil and gas.”

Kalyn and Enticknap were responding to a recent report by the Real Estate Investment Network, a Canadian real estate research, investment and educational organization with more than 3,000 members. It listed Rocky Mountain House — along with Hinton, Edson, Grande Cache and Drayton Valley — as forestry-dependent communities in Alberta where property values are threatened by the westward spread of mountain pine beetles.

“These areas have relatively small populations, some degree of pine reliance and are geographically located in areas more susceptible to beetle attack,” said the REIN report. “If investing in these areas, a risk premium is necessary — at least double the cash flow seen in other areas.”

The report noted that 22.7 million acres of forest land in British Columbia have been affected by the pine beetle infestation since it began 15 years ago.

“Only towns and cities that made drastic attempts to diversify their economies and attract new employers and industries to the area are able to weather this storm.”

In Alberta, it said, there has been an exponential increase in the number of pine trees killed by the beetles in the past few years. If this trend continues, affected regions could suffer a significant loss of direct and indirect jobs, with adverse consequences for property values.

Around Rocky, the biggest forestry operations are West Fraser LVL and Sundre Forest Products, both owned by West Fraser Timber Co. Ltd., and Rocky Wood Preservers Ltd.

Tom Daniels, a forestry superintendent with West Fraser, pointed out that the West Country has so far avoided the insect onslaught. A strategy is in place to deal with the threat, he said, and beetle numbers in British Columbia are expected to drop in about four years.

“If it does actually crash in 2013 then we won’t expect to see the large in-flights that will come out of British Columbia anymore.

“So if we’re able to deal with that population in Alberta and keep it at reasonable levels and keep track of those in-flights and deal with the population as it comes in, then we have a pretty good chance that we might be able to beat this beetle.”

Even in areas that are affected, much of the wood from damaged trees can be salvaged, said Daniels, with new uses and marketing strategies being developed. Plus, he said, other species of trees — like spruce and fir — grow in this area.

“So mills won’t necessarily need to shut down completely.”

Although forced by current adverse market conditions to operate with skeleton crews, the West Fraser LVL and Sundre Forest Products plants each have about 200 full-time-equivalent positions during peak periods, said Daniels. They would also combine to contract more than 150 more full-time equivalent positions in activities like logging, trucking, road-building and tree-planting, he said.

“It’s really hard to speculate at this point as to what the impact would be in terms of employment,” said Daniels of a major mountain pine beetle attack.

Kalyn isn’t worried.

“I’ve been in this business for 22 years,” she said.

“In my real estate experience, I have found that Rocky Mountain House has been a more stabilized marketplace than a lot of the other communities across Canada.”

hrichards@bprda.wpengine.com

Just Posted

Fredericton police release scene of shooting spree, but ‘damage’ remains

FREDERICTON — Police have released the Fredericton apartment complex that was the… Continue reading

Police seek public’s help after East Coast lobster thieves strike again

SAINT-SIMON, N.B. — There has been another crustacean caper on the East… Continue reading

Court hearing on Humboldt Broncos fundraising a first under new Saskatchewan law

SASKATOON — A court hearing related to money raised following the Humboldt… Continue reading

Weed’s want ads longer, marijuana job searches up as industry grows: study

OTTAWA — The growth of Canada’s soon-to-be-legal recreational pot industry is starting… Continue reading

Google Generation’s push for more technology transforming health care: survey

TORONTO — Digitally savvy Canadians who make up the Google Generation are… Continue reading

WATCH: A horse was neglected by its owner. Now the horse is suing

ESTACADA, Ore. - Justice is an 8-year-old American quarter horse who used… Continue reading

Red Sox old-timer’s memorabilia going up for sale

BIDDEFORD, Maine — Some items belonging to one of the Boston Red… Continue reading

Rival Korea leaders to meet in Pyongyang in September

SEOUL, Korea, Republic Of — The rival Koreas announced Monday that North… Continue reading

Charlottesville anniversary: Peaceful protests, few arrests

WASHINGTON — Thousands of people wanting to send a message that racism… Continue reading

‘I believe music heals people’: 12-year-old records tribute for shooting victims

YARMOUTH, N.S. — Twelve-year-old Josh Cochrane of Yarmouth, N.S., watched the news… Continue reading

Fallen officers’ families gather with Justin Trudeau after tragedy

The prime minister laid flowers at the growing memorial to the four victims of Friday’s violence

Fallen officers’ families gather with prime minister after tragedy

FREDERICTON — Prime Minister Justin Trudeau met with families of fallen Fredericton… Continue reading

Liberals showcase benefits of billions spent on infrastructure projects

OTTAWA — Little more than a year before the next federal election,… Continue reading

Fredericton parade ‘a way to celebrate even in the midst of this grief’: mayor

FREDERICTON — Two days after four people were gunned down in a… Continue reading

Most Read


Five-day delivery plus unlimited digital access for $185 for 260 issues (must live in delivery area to qualify) Unlimited Digital Access 99 cents for the first four weeks and then only $15 per month Five-day delivery plus unlimited digital access for $15 a month