Building permits in Red Deer were down again in November, in both number and value.
But there are rays of light on the economic horizon, said the city’s land and economic development manager, John Sennema.
Oil service company Wajax Industrial Solutions, as well as 24/7 Compression Ltd. and highway maintenance company Mainroad have recently moved into Red Deer’s Queens Business Park, so Sennema is feeling quite optimistic.
“We’ve also had some interest in Capstone on Riverlands… In the past month, we’ve had two developers from Calgary coming through,” said Sennema, and they seemed impressed by Red Deer’s demographics and central location.
The investment opportunities portion of the city’s website states “we are a relatively young community, and a relatively wealthy community still” — which is attractive to businesses.
Sennema added developers also appear to like the accessible design of Queens Business Park.
The City of Red Deer hired a company last year to provide leads on 25 businesses that were looking to expand or find another location, “and we have actively been reaching out to them,” said Sennema.
While more details can’t be revealed for confidentiality reasons, he believes it’s been a fruitful effort.
As well, city council is looking at ways to make the downtown more appealing to new residents by providing grants for storefront facade updates and tightening rules for derelict properties. Sennema hopes these initiatives will be approved in the new year.
Meanwhile, notable building permits for November include construction of shop and office space at a courier distribution centre in the Queens Business Park valued at $3.9 million.
There was also $1.2 million worth of interior renovations for Alberta Health Services’ administration offices at Gaetz Avenue and 43rd Street.
Still, the year-to-date building permit totals are sitting at just over half the value of the same period last year — which Sennema attributes to a difficult provincial economy.
In the January to November period, $114.7 million in local building permits were issued, compared to $222.4 million during the same time frame in 2018.
But some gains were seen last month in three out of four construction categories. Only local industrial projects were down considerably, in terms of value.
A total of 62 permits were issued in November, with a combined value of just over $11.5 million. This compares to 74 permits that were issued in November 2018, worth a combined $23.2 million.
While the deepest value drop last month was on the industrial side, there were somewhat brighter results on the commercial, residential and public construction categories.
Eight industrial permits were issued during November 2019 — the same number as in November 2018. But the combined value last month was $4.3 million, compared to $13.4 million for last November.
Commercial construction actually grew significantly last month over November 2018. There were 18 projects getting underway, worth a total of $4.3 million last month — compared to 17 projects worth $1.2 million in November of last year.
Thirty-eight residential construction permits were issued last month, which is down from the 46 issued last November. But the combined value of residential projects was up slightly last month at $2.9 million, compared to $2.3 million for the same month last year.