May’s Highlights

Elections by Dennis S  Hurd
Elections by Dennis S Hurd

May is over and we bring an overview of the most important events that happened over the last thirty one days.

Canada — Federal Elections

The most important event in May was undoubtedly the 40th Canadian federal elections. On May 2, Canadians elected Stephen Harper’s Conservative Party to form its first majority government. He won 39.6% of the popular vote, but only six of Quebec’s 75 seats. “I would have hoped for more, but we do have significant representation there, and we will certainly be listening to what the people of Quebec say over the next four years,” said Harper.

The elections probably gave a temporary boost to employment rates. Economists had expected a modest growth of 20,000 jobs in April, following small gains in March and February. But the creation of 58,000 jobs — more than twice what was expected — was a surprise. Some economists, including Avery Shenfeld, chief economist at Bank of Nova Scotia, expected the Bank of Canada to hike the interest rate, while others were afraid that elections would kill the chance to raise it. However, with the high Canadian inflation rate, it is likely that rates will increase, following the OECD’s Forecast advises.

Photo by Cameron Strandberg
Photo by Cameron Strandberg

Alberta — Natural Disasters

On May 14, wildfires started burning 10 km south of Slave Lake, Alberta. Shortly thereafter, more wildfires began east of Slave Lake, and the Town of Slave Lake declared a Local State of Emergency. Residents in the northern region of the province had to leave their homes and move into evacuation centres. Energy companies like Penn West Petroleum, CNQ, Canadian National Railway, and Exall Energy Corp. were forced to cut their production in the Slave Lake area. On May 25, evacuees began to return to Slave Lake, and those who had lost their homes have had to move into temporary housing. “I must stress that we are still under a state of local emergency and this is not a general call for people to return to our community," said Mayor Karina Pillay-Kinnee. "We still have a tremendous amount of work to do between now and then.”

Two days later, on May 27, heavy rains in southern Alberta caused flooding, and people living in High River had to be evacuated. The evacuation order was lifted the next day, but Ross Shapka, emergency operations deputy director, warned: “River levels are indicating a stable and moderate recession but we are still on high alert.”

Downtown Calgary by DArcy Norman
Downtown Calgary by D'Arcy Norman

Calgary – Real Estate Market

Blackstone Group LP has decided to sell its properties (about 3.2 million square feet), including buildings in Calgary like Rocky Mountain Plaza and Braithwaite Boyle Centre. “The [real estate] market’s very good. Our constraint really is product availability. There’s really more money than there is opportunities,” stated Garry Beres, senior vice-president for CB Richard Ellis Ltd. in Calgary.

Stoney Industrial Centre has begun construction of Stoney Warehouse 4, a 436,000-square-foot building. It will be the largest LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certified building in Canada. “Calgary is so well positioned as a distribution hub and network and this just has the best location,” announced Darren Durstling, partner with the development group.

The Calgary Herald also announced that there was significant investment from an undefined Chinese company that purchased 12 units in the Riverfront Pointe project at 325 3rd St. S.E., ranging from one-bedroom units at about $265,000 to two penthouse suites at about $800,000 each. “I understood that [the company] projects are going to be here for at least the next 35 years,” said Ross Pavl, sales manager at Riverfront Pointe.

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