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Mayor says investors not as nervous over Calgary's current economy

FILE PHOTO: Mayor Naheed Nenshi speaking to reporters. 660News Ian Campbell

Calgary’s Mayor says investors may not be so nervous about the current state of the city’s economy or the low price of oil as one might think.

Naheed Nenshi recently returned from a trip to New York to reassure those in the business community about where the city’s heading and according to the mayor, it didn’t take much convincing on his part.

“The meetings were really quite remarkable,” he said. “Some of the largest public equity firms in New York, everyone is interested in Calgary, everyone has people coming to Calgary every two weeks, a number of them are actually excited that our vacancy rate has a bit of a blip at the moment in downtown office buildings. It’s giving them the opportunity to set up a permanent presence in Calgary.”

Nenshi says what he learned was that people are continuing to look for avenues to invest and are long-term bullish not just on the oilsands, but on natural gas and on the conventional and deep basin oil here in Calgary.

He adds they’re also looking at commercial real estate, transportation and logistics.

What he did hear loud and clear from investors is that if there is going to be a royalty review, that’s fine but it should be done with key players at the table and as quickly as possible.

“Everybody knows about the new provincial government in Alberta. It has received a fair bit of play and people had a lot of questions about what that means, what is going to happen to the province and I was able to give my best perspective on that,” he said.

Nenshi says a lot of these investors are hearing from their portfolio companies in the city a message of ‘we’re going to be great and we’re going to work with the new Premier, things are moving forward and we’re looking forward to having a lot of policy clarity to help us make future investment decisions.’

“Look, I’m the mayor, I’m always optimistic but in this case I’m genuinely optimistic, especially having spoken to these folks about their plans. We have to work hard at providing clarity, we have to ensure that a royalty review is done expeditiously and has the right people around the table. These folks told me very clearly royalty reviews happen all the time, the royalties in Alberta are way below what we’re paying most places in the United States. The land regime in Alberta where we’re leasing from the Crown instead of private land-holders is a giant strategic advantage for investing in Canada and investing in Alberta. So I was feeling very, very good about what they were saying.”

“I heard over, over and over again, we are not worried about the price of oil, we know how to invest in energy through the business cycle, so this was very, very, very useful for me to hear and learn all of this.”

Nenshi also spent sometime with Calgarians abroad, including University of Calgary alumni, sharing some of the opportunities that are available to them, should they choose to come home.