The province of Alberta is looking to seduce graduating students from Ontario into moving out west.
Doug Schweitzer, Alberta’s Minister of Jobs, Economy and Innovation, was in Toronto recently to speak about the opportunities the province has to offer. In particular, he was promoting work in the energy sector, technology, and hospitality.
“If you look at the future trajectory of Alberta, we’re about to go on an amazing economic run this decade,” said Schweitzer.
Last year, RBC released a report on future projections of Alberta’s economy, which shared his sentiment.
The report says the “optimistic forecast” is based on stronger drilling activity, a new pipeline capacity and an uptick in the energy sector.
The report also touched on a few of the driving forces behind the growth seen in Alberta, such as an improved labour market, rising consumer confidence and better household savings to boost consumer spending and housing sales.
“When you take a look at the affordability and quality of life in Alberta, you can actually buy a house, you can buy a condo here. You can afford to live in Alberta,” Schweitzer said.
Last November, Alberta created Stronger Foundations, a 10-year strategy aimed at improving and expanding affordable housing.
The Stronger Foundations program would see $238 million allocated over three years to provide 1,800 new and regenerated affordable housing units, and maintain 26,700 provincially owned units. This would also create more than 1,700 jobs, according to the provincial government.
Kaitlin Chaisson, a 30-year-old hairdresser, originally from Oshawa, now lives in Banff.
The cost of housing there is slightly cheaper than in Ontario. The average rental price for a two-bedroom apartment in Banff is $1,330, compared to Oshawa’s $1,645, according to zumper.com, a search website for renters
But it was the mountains, not the cost of living, that brought Chaisson west.
Banff National Park in Alberta has been voted as one of the top national parks to visit. With its mountains cutting into the sky, surrounded by a sea of tall green trees and crystal-clear water, its top position is justifiable.
However, the pull of the mountains is not enough to keep many Albertans at home.
Recently, the Canada West Foundation released a report that found a net out-migration happening in Alberta, for people from the ages of 25 and 29.
One reason outlined in the report, was that younger generations view the province as being “intolerant’ and “conservative.”
That’s not the case for Chaisson.
“My experience, living in Banff, is probably very different than the rest of Alberta,” she said. “People move to Banff from all over the world, so it’s very diverse and multicultural.”
However, Schweitzer said Alberta is no different than the rest of Canada.
“Every community in Alberta is a little bit different, like every town and city across Canada,” he said.
“And you’re probably going to find that community that you feel really comfortable in.”
That’s true of Chaisson in Banff.
“The people who move here tend to be very concerned with the environment, as we do live in a national park. Also Banff being a tourist town, we primarily run on the hospitality industry,” she said. “Those two factors I feel create a social and economic bubble from the rest of Alberta.”