February 4, 2015
Mayor Gale Katchur
Thank you and good afternoon ladies and gentlemen. I’d like to thank the Chamber for allowing me to bring the annual State of the City Address on behalf of City Council to our business community.
The question on the top of everyone’s mind these days is how will the low price of oil impact our City? The good news is that Alberta has had low oil prices in the past and during those times Fort Saskatchewan not only survived… we thrived.
Despite what the Conference Board of Canada has said, Alberta is not headed for recession. It’s true that Canada’s GDP has fallen from 4 percent to 2 percent but as long as we are not in a negative GDP position, we are still seeing growth, even if it’s moderate. Yes, we have heard statistics like the loss of 56,000 part-time jobs in Canada. But the numbers are misleading as Canada gained 53,500 “full-time” jobs. In December 2014, there were 5,700 new jobs were created in Alberta. Moving part-time employment to full-time in this country is the better news story, but it’s not what is being reported.
Fort Saskatchewan, known as the Gateway to Alberta’s Industrial Heartland, still remains the ideal location as a regional service centre for Alberta’s oil and gas industry; a centre for the processing of natural gas and a centre for technology research aka, Innovation Alley; the Hospital, means we are a regional healthcare centre; and we are a shopping destination in the region.
As I said, everyone wants to know what potential impact this downturn in oil prices will have on us. If I had a crystal ball that told me what our future held for us, I’d being buying the winning lottery tickets. Hasn’t happened so far, so we left with relying on economists and our partners to keep informed.
It really is about being aware of what’s going on. When asked the question about our current economic situation, I have responded by saying that this is a period of normalization or it’s a pause for correction and in the words of our leaders “We must not over react”.
I have talked to several companies that have said that they will take this moment in time to get caught up until the next wave of work orders hit them. In Fort Saskatchewan, the sky is not falling. Our growth rate is consistently between 4 to 6% annually. Investor confidence still remains very high in Alberta’s Industrial Heartland and in Fort Saskatchewan.
For Fort Saskatchewan, our existing industries have confirmed they are expanding. New facilities are being built, and new technologies are being tested. At the Alberta’s Industrial Heartland Stakeholder event two weeks ago, we heard a commitment of $16 billion dollars’ worth of industrial construction projects in the Heartland.