Calgary's office vacancy glut drops for first time in ages

By HUB SmartCoverage Team on October 16th, 2017

One lasting consequence of the economic downturn in Alberta may finally be starting to resolve itself.

As reported in The Canadian Press, office space vacancies in Calgary decreased for the first time over a full quarter since the downturn began back in 2014, according to real estate agency CBRE. In the three months leading up to the end of September, the vacancy rate dipped by 30 basis points, leaving it at 27.4 per cent as calendars turned to October.

With a rate that high, it is clear there is still a long way to go before the pre-downturn equilibrium is restored. The city reportedly has close to 1.1 million square metres of empty downtown office space. When grouped together with vacant downtown office space in Canada's nine other largest cities, Calgary's unused spaces account for 40 per cent of the bunch.

Greg Kwong, CBRE's regional managing director of Alberta, commented on the signs of progress.

"Based on previous recessions that I've lived through, and certainly from the business community that I'm talking to, this kind of looks, feels, and smells like the bottom," he said, also noting that it could still likely take more than 12-18 months for the vacancy rate to dip below the high 20 per cent range.

If it does, it would start to enter the territory that cities like London, Edmonton, and Halifax currently occupy. Those places are sitting at 21.5, 20.3, and 16 per cent, respectively.

In addition to these statistics, Calgary could be on the verge of experiencing another (and much greater) change. Calgarians are at the polls today, voting in a mayoral race that includes the incumbent Naheed Nenshi and nine competitors, with Bill Smith and Andre Chabot looked at as the challengers most likely to unseat the historically popular Nenshi.

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