The government-touted “Saskatchewan advantage” appears to be gaining momentum, with the City of Prince Albert approving $66.7 million worth of construction so far this year.
These construction projects include 161 building permits, of which 114 are for residential projects and 47 are for commercial/industrial.
“Commercial and industrial is leading the way this year, with not only new starts but people upgrading their existing structure,” the city’s chief building official Kim Johnson said of this year's halfway mark.
Commercial and industrial projects tend to be worth quite a bit more than residential, he noted, and make up the bulk of construction costs.
At six months into 2011 the city had approved $43.7 million worth of construction, representing $23 million less than this year’s halfway mark.
There were, however, more building permits offered at this point last year, at 218 — 57 more than this year’s first six months.
This year has benefited from more bigger-picture construction projects, such as those at the Cornerstone Shopping District and the Skyrider condominium project at 15th Street East and 15th Avenue.
Although the city has these larger projects to the east, Johnson notes that development is widespread across the city.
“It’s kind of here and there and everywhere,” he said. “It’s basically across the board.”
Commercial and industrial is leading the way this year, with not only new starts but people upgrading their existing structure. - City of Prince Albert chief building official Kim Johnson
Prince Albert and District Chamber of Commerce CEO Merle Lacert said that this year's increase in building permit value is indicative of optimism in the local business community.
“Any time that we have an increase in building, it’s always a good thing,” he said.
“Whenever we have one year over the previous, we just have to build on that and focus on any way we can work on that.”
The city’s upcoming Green Industrial Park to the north of the river and the ever-expanding Cornerstone Shopping District are signs of opportunity looking to the future, he noted.
Building on these successes, he said that the city must strive to become more competitive with other communities across the province, and country, to attract business.
Less red tape, lower taxes, the availability of trained workers and other such incentives must be improved upon.
With the city surviving on mainly the retail and service sectors, the introduction of more manufacturing jobs would benefit us greatly, he said.
“There are still areas to improve,” he said. “There’s always room to grow and become more competitive.”