City’s economy fuels infrastructure projects

  • Jul. 30, 2014 4:37 p.m.

According to a study by the Conference Board of Canada, Red Deer is doing very well and is generating many infrastructure growth opportunities.

Red Deer’s gross domestic product (GDP) output grew in 2013 with a 4.5% rise from the previous year, ranking third of 46 mid-sized Canadian cities.

“I think that obviously Red Deer has a very healthy economy. In fact, we’ve out-stripped most middle-sized cities across Canada, as shown in recent economic reports from the Conference Board of Canada, which has shown us with the third strongest GDP,” said City Manager Craig Curtis.

“Last year, our GDP was 4.5 per cent, so we’re very strong on the economic side, and that leads to growth which is both commercial and residential.”

Gross domestic product represents the total dollar value of all the goods and services produced in a given area over a specific time period.

This year is expected to bring in an increase of 3.5% in GDP, while 2015 will see a less prominent, but still positive, increase of 2.5%.

Major growth for the City can most notably be seen in the development of the Riverlands residential and commercial area and the communities of Timberstone, Timberlands, Timber Ridge and Evergreen.

Riverlands development has already begun with the changes at the Ross St. and Taylor Dr. intersection. This construction is to help ease the flow of traffic into the planned residential and commercial area and to accommodate pedestrian traffic. Timberlands, Timberstone and Timber Ridge are all making significant progress as well.

“One of the factors that is really key to any of our growth is keeping our non-residential property taxes very competitive. We sit very well in terms of our non-residential taxes,” said Curtis.

Red Deer was measured against Calgary, Lethbridge, Medicine Hat, Edmonton, Winnipeg, Toronto, Regina, Halifax and Vancouver and was assessed with the second lowest cost of non-residential property tax rates, losing only marginally to Leduc.

This means that industrial growth is occurring, as business owners are able to gain profit through lower taxes. This industrial growth can be seen especially in the energy sector.

If Red Deer can secure the 2019 Winter Games bid, even more growth will be seen in amenities such as a partnership with RDC to develop the proposed Centre for Health, Wellness and Sport, which would include squash courts and a short track speed skating track among other facilities, officials say.

“I think that all in all, we hope that (getting the bid) will be a catalyst for community investment from the provincial and federal government, because they support the games. We have an investment and then we look for donors and so on. It’s an exciting opportunity and it will also add to our infrastructure. At the same time, they’re talking tens of millions in economic impact,” said Curtis.

The City would also see upgrades to arenas, Canyon Ski Hill upgrades and development and a speed skating area at Great Chief Park.