Mr. Speaker, there are many parts I could answer, but I will focus just on what happened in Calgary's commercial market when the downturn came.
I have experienced this in every part when I have travelled through different rural communities and major cities. Everybody is ready for the price downturn. Albertans are just used to it. We know prices go up and down, so everybody prepares. Companies prepare, workers prepare. However, this past downturn was much deeper, much longer than it needed to be, made worse by provincial and then federal government decision-making that prolonged the pain.
On the commercial real estate market in Calgary, when I was looking for a constituency office space, it was free. A person could get rent-free commercial space. The one condition was the person had to pay the operating costs. Large towers in downtown Calgary were completely emptied of workers. People were sent home because there was nothing to do.
In an area of my riding called Quarry Park, after Imperial Oil moved its headquarters out of downtown, there were massive cement pads where other parts of the downtown campus and other companies were supposed to move in. They are still standing there. Years afterwards, there is the fire escape shaft has been built out of concrete. The rig and the cranes are still sitting there, two and a half to three years later, with no movement and no construction. There is no use for them. We still have excessive vacancies of “A” grade commercial space, mostly owned by large energy companies.
I was at a meeting with a geothermal association in Calgary, which subleases space from the energy company, Shell. When Shell left its space, it subleased it to the association. It is rampant. It is a huge loss to the city in taxes. It is a huge loss to the downtown businesses. All those energy workers, who are earning a great income, would have been spending it downtown in restaurants. They would have been spending it on parking. They would have been contributing to the local economy, but they are not doing that. Underemployment continues. Again, commercial vacancy continues to be extremely high in Calgary.