Category Archives: Saskatchewan

According to Standard & Poors

Very Strong Economy But Exposure to The Oil Sector Could Hamper Growth according to our auditors, Standard & Poors update released today.

Saskatoon is centrally located within Saskatchewan. It is the province’s largest Census metropolitan area, and the city estimates its population to be about 254,000 as of June 2014. It exhibited what we consider to be strong growth in the past three years (4% and 2% in 2013 and 2012, respectively), although more moderate growth preceded this. The population is young: 17% are under the age of 14, and its dependent population is about 30%, based on the 2011 Census. Saskatchewan’s GDP per capita averaged US$70,494 in 2011-2013 and the province had been forecasting growth of 2.2% in 2014 and 2.3% in 2015. However, the recent plunge in oil prices and the weak Canadian dollar will likely result in some downward revisions to these projections because the oil sector, which also contributes a significant proportion of provincial revenues through direct royalties, generates almost 20% of the provinces GDP. We estimate that Saskatoon’s GDP per capita would be in line with the province’s, given its stature as Saskatchewan’s largest Census metropolitan area and the subsequent greater economic diversity than other areas of the province.

The city is the larger of Saskatchewan’s two commercial centers, and the province is the world’s largest producer of potash. In our view, Saskatoon has moderate employment diversity. Agriculture, the public sector, and in particular the resource sector (mining and potash) are all important employers for the city, with the latter fuelling its recent population growth. Saskatoon has experienced a shortage of skilled labor and has had one of the lowest unemployment rates in Canada in the past few years; forecasted to be about 4.1% in 2014 which is flat from 2013 and down from 5.6% in 2012. Its highway, air, and rail transportation link it to markets throughout North America, making it one of Canada’s hub cities. Agriculture is another important employer in the province and Saskatoon provides services and products to this sector. Other prominent private sectors of employment are trade and transport, retail, and food processing. Utilities (namely SaskTel, SaskEnergy, and SaskPower), health care, government, and education (including the University of Saskatchewan) are important public sector employers. We believe the city’s economic fundamentals are very strong, although we expect a downturn in the resource sector would affect its economy through higher unemployment, lower population growth, and lower revenue.

There is this as well

We believe Saskatoon’s land development activities expose it to some development risk. The city’s land development business line invests in infrastructure ahead of development and sells land at competitive market values to developers. Saskatoon has developed and follows a plan for growth and its land development activities help ensure it grows according to its plan. Although the city builds out infrastructure in consultation with developers, there is a risk that planned growth will not materialize, likely as a result of an economic slowdown, and the recovery of its land development costs from developers could be delayed.

Klaszus: Calgary’s Council is Broken

Metro Calgary columnist Jeremy Klaszus on the dysfunction of Calgary’s City Council

In 2010, Nenshi ran on a platform of “better ideas.” His No. 1 better idea was secondary-suite reform.

Last December, for the umpteenth time, council blocked this effort — despite consensus among citizens and organizations that reform is long overdue.

Some on council were miffed when, ahead of the vote, Nenshi publicly asked business leaders to pressure five on-the-fence councillors to vote “Yes.”

“If I were to vote for secondary suites now, people would say, ‘Joe knuckled under to the mayor,’” Coun. Joe Magliocca told the Calgary Herald. “That just burns my ass.”

That’s unbelievably puerile on Magliocca’s part — try considering the good of Calgarians, pal, rather than your own image — but Nenshi’s approach of publicly pressuring his colleagues clearly backfired.

While Nenshi revels in adulation, he struggles to build crucial relationships and is notoriously poor at handling his critics on council and off. (Remember when he aggressively berated that AM770 caller last year?)

Yet for all his flaws, Nenshi has a strong vision for Calgary’s future. The same cannot be said of the cadre of councillors that often oppose the mayor — the likes of Magliocca, Ward Sutherland, Sean Chu and Jim Stevenson.

This bunch would eagerly take Calgary back to 1973 if they had their way. They can’t imagine a city where people bike to work and live in secondary suites.

Saskatoon’s Chamber of Commerce feels the same way about cycling

Because Nenshi embraces the future of cities, he’s a magnet for top talent to Calgary.

City chief planner Rollin Stanley and Calgary Public Library CEO Bill Ptacek have both said the mayor was a factor in their decisions to come here.

It benefits Calgary when Nenshi is celebrated nationally and internationally. Now his challenge is to build the right allies locally.

If Nenshi can do that, he might be able to salvage this council before it’s too late.

This is what I want my mayor to do, embrace the future of cities.  It’s what Don Atchison has never seem to be able to do, he has embraced the way Saskatoon used to be and wants us to be that.  In a war to attract top talent, Saskatoon will keep falling behind when we have councillors and a mayor that looks back to the past and not forward.

Canada ‘potentially vulnerable’ because of household debt: report

From the Toronto Star

A renewed warning on Canadian household debt levels is coming from a research report written by an international management consulting firm.

The report, published by McKinsey & Company on Thursday, singled out Canada and six other countries with “potential vulnerabilities in household debt.”
In Canada’s case, household debt levels are higher than those that existed in the U.S. at the peak of the credit bubble, the report notes.

The data suggests a “potential risk, but not an imminent crisis,” the report said.

“There is no sign that there are a significant number of Canadian borrowers today having trouble repaying their debt. The risk comes when you look to the future,” said Susan Lund, partner at McKinsey Global Institute in Washington, D.C.

“If the economy were to slow and unemployment started to rise, when people lose jobs, that’s when a mortgage that you could afford with a job suddenly becomes unaffordable. The other potential risk is if and when interest rates start to rise, that could create a much larger burden on households repaying debt.”

So what does that mean for Calgary which already has an obscene amount of household mortgage debt?  I hate to say it but what does it mean for Saskatchewan which has a high debt to income level.  


Into the Darkness

Alleys of Saskatoon

A photo from July of 2014.  

When I took this photo, it was pitch dark.  I thought I was only shooting a photo down an empty alleyway.  Then the women on the right came running out and demanded to see the photo while yelling at Wendy and I.  I showed her and she seemed okay.  As she was walking back down the alley, she yells back and says, “I just didn’t want anyone to see my f*ck show”.  So yeah, apparently this is a photo of a trick.