Trans Mountain pipeline approval spurs renewed, if cautious, optimism
Edmonton has struggled beneath the weight of a crashing oil and gas sector, and while there are signs of better days ahead, the optimism is cautious.
Last month, the federal government approved the Trans Mountain pipeline, a move that was lauded by Alberta Premier Jason Kenney—a perennial thorn in Ottawa’s side—of all people, but skepticism abounds.
“Now that we have pipeline approval—that was the headwind that had influenced the market—the headwind is still that the proof is in the pudding,” said Matthew Boukall, vice president of product management and data solutions at Altus Group. “We want to see construction happen because approvals haven’t necessarily meant construction in the past. Consumer confidence will
revolve around whether or not the pipeline actually goes ahead.”
While the oil and gas sector’s plummet has been a tempest, last year’s B-20 rules proved a spanner in the works of another kind.
“Housing affordability and mortgage qualification continue to be a challenge in Edmonton,” said Boukall. “Edmonton doesn’t have an affordability issue in the traditional sense, but the mortgage rules mean people can’t afford what they used to afford. People who, in a previous period, could afford a single-family house or townhouse are now looking at different built forms of what they qualify for. Getting consumers who are qualified to get a mortgage has become a bit more challenging.