Energy sector fuelling construction

A reinvigorated energy sector is fueling construction throughout Central Alberta, say development officers in the region.

A reinvigorated energy sector is fueling construction throughout Central Alberta, say development officers in the region.

With the midway point of 2012 fast approaching, a number of municipalities are reporting robust building permit values in the industrial category.

“We have had a lot inquiries from developers on an industrial aspect,” said Betty Jurykoski, a development officer with the Town of Ponoka. “Industrial has really been on the go.”

Elwin Wiens, Jurykoski’s counterpart in Innisfail, said much of the industrial activity in his town is being driven by growth.

“Basically, existing companies here are expanding some of their operations,” he said, attributing this trend to the needs of petroleum sector firms.

“They’re definitely busier now, or as busy as they’ve been for a while now.”

Jeff Laurien, manager of planning and development with the City of Lacombe, agreed that the energy sector has been driving development. He noted the strong demand for industrial and commercial land in Lacombe.

Jurykoski said there’s also been a run on industrial land in Ponoka, with more now needed.

“We’re currently reviewing our (municipal development plan) to analyze what we need to do and where we need to go next.”

Tim Schmidt, director of planning and development at Sylvan Lake, is also seeing increased interest in industrial projects. He thinks the resort town’s reputation as a desirable place to live is prompting oilfield and related businesses to consider it as a place to operate — especially with skilled labour becoming increasingly scarce.

“They can actually retain their employees by moving their businesses to Sylvan Lake.”

The value of permits issued by Central Alberta’s two cities and 16 towns for industrial and commercial work last year reached $141.9 million. That was up 58 per cent from the $89.6 million worth of work approved in these categories in 2010, and marked the highest total since a whopping $261.2 million in industrial and commercial permits were approved in 2007 — just before oil prices plummeted and the region slipped into recession.

hrichards@bprda.wpengine.com