By Gemma Karstens-Smith in Edmonton
Kevin Lowe’s post-hockey to-do list has been growing for years.
The Edmonton Oilers’ legend sat down with his wife at the end of the NHL season and wrote out all the places they want to go, the things they want to do.
Looking at the results, Lowe realized it was time to step away from the Oilers’ front office. On Tuesday, he retired from his role as vice chair and alternate governor.
“It’s exciting,” Lowe told The Canadian Press. “I’m 63 now. I wanted to spend a little bit more time with family and grandkids and maybe see a little bit more of the world that I haven’t seen. So I figured I’d better get started now. You never know what lays ahead.”
He’ll stay on with the team as an ambassador, and with travel plans, five kids and two grandkids (so far), the Hall of Fame defenceman expects to keep busy.
“I’m still going to be involved in the game as an ambassador, I’d like to get out on the speaking tour, I’d like to write a book. So lots to do ahead,” Lowe said. “But to not be on an expected schedule, being employed by the organization, frees me up to stick my finger in the wind and see what’s out there.”
His retirement marks the end of more than 40 years with the Oilers.
Lowe was the team’s first ever NHL draft pick in 1979. He won five Stanley Cups with Edmonton and helped the New York Rangers to a championship title in 1994.
The native of Lachute, Que., retired from playing in 1998 after amassing 431 points (84 goals, 347 assists) and 1,498 penalty minutes across 1,254 regular-season NHL games with the Oilers and Rangers.
“We had a wonderful group, especially in the early days. I’ve been fortunate to work with so many good people,” he said. “Winning that first Cup always probably sticks out as the biggest moment.”
He served as Edmonton’s head coach during the 1999-2000 season and as the club’s general manager from 2000 to 2008.
Hockey has changed drastically during Lowe’s time in the NHL and the longtime executive said he’s proud of his role in helping shape how the game is played.
Lowe was part of the competition committee that introduced a number of changes aimed at increasing scoring chances in 2005. The new rules rejigged the lines on the ice, reduced the size of goalie equipment and introduced the shootout for games that remain tied after five minutes of overtime.
“The game has changed a lot, all for the good,” Lowe said of the league’s current on-ice product.
In 2002, Lowe was part of the management group for the Canadian men’s hockey team that won Olympic gold in Salt Lake City. He was also a manager for the Canadian squad that took top spot in the 2004 World Cup of Hockey.
Lowe was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 2020 and received the Order of Hockey in Canada in 2021. The Oilers retired his No. 4 in November 2021.
“Very few have had the impact that Kevin has had, both on and off the ice,” Oilers chairman Bob Nicholson said in a statement Tuesday. “He exemplifies leadership and has done so much to help connect the organization with our fans, while supporting so many worthwhile causes in our community.
“He is a teammate, leader and friend to so many in the organization and we congratulate him on an amazing career and are excited for this next chapter of his career.”
After more than four decades with the Oilers, Lowe said what sticks out is how important the team is to Edmonton and to fans.
“I can still go anywhere pretty much in the country and people will cite the ’80s Oilers or a specific moment they remember,” he said. “Across the country, it’s like living in a small town. That speaks to me about just how important the game of hockey is to Canadians.”
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Aug. 2, 2022.
Hot rental market makes search ‘stressful’ for many — and it won’t get better soon
Marissa Giesinger is pictured in Calgary, Thursday, Sept. 21, 2023. On the hunt for a rental home in Calgary over the last six weeks, Giesinger and her boyfriend trawled through listings morning, noon and night, only to find most come along with dozens of applications and a steep price tag. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
By Tara Deschamps in Toronto
On the hunt for a rental home in Calgary over the last six weeks, Marissa Giesinger and her boyfriend trawled through listings morning, noon and night, only to find most come along with dozens of applications and a steep price tag. As an added difficulty, many landlords are unwelcoming to the couple’s brood — dogs Kado and Rosco and a cat named Jester.
“We made the tough decision recently to house our dogs with someone else until we can find a place that’s affordable and we can take both of them,” said Giesinger, a 23-year-old Mount Royal University student.
“It’s definitely been stressful.”
The competitive rental market Giesinger has encountered in Calgary is being seen across the country as multiple factors combine: high interest rates deter buyers and add to rental demand, still-high inflation is squeezing renter budgets, there’s an undersupply of purpose-built rental units and population growth is fuelling demand.
These conditions have left prospective renters feeling even more frustrated than usual by sky-high rents, the frenzy of interest that surrounds any affordable listing and the litany of demands landlords can make when so many people are interested in their home.
Giacomo Ladas, communications director for Rentals.ca, calls it “almost a perfect storm” — and it isn’t likely to ease up any time soon.
“What this does is create such a burden on this rental housing market that even though we’re out of the (busy) summer rental season, there’s so much demand that (these conditions are) going to continue like this until the fall and into the winter,” he said.
Data crunched by his organization and research firm Urbanation.ca shows average asking rents for newly-listed units in Canada increased 1.8 per cent between July and August and 9.6 per cent from a year earlier to reach a record high of $2,117 last month.
Between May and August, asking rents in Canada increased by 5.1 per cent or an average of $103 per month.
When Giesinger rented a two-bedroom basement unit with a roommate a few years ago, the duo paid $1,000 per month, but now she routinely spots “super tiny,” one-bedroom places for $1,350 a month.
“If you want a basement suite or an apartment, you’re looking at minimum $1,200 and that doesn’t include any utilities or anything like that unless it’s a super rare listing,” Giesinger said.
Rentals.ca data show newly listed one-bedroom properties in Calgary priced at an average $1,728 per month in August, up 21.6 per cent from a year earlier. Two-bedroom homes have climbed 17.4 per cent to $2,150 over the same period.
The picture in Vancouver and Toronto is far bleaker. Rentals.ca found the cities had the highest rents in the country.
Newly-listed one-bedroom properties in Vancouver averaged $2,988 in August, up 13.1 per cent from a year earlier, while two-bedroom units hit $3,879, an almost 10 per cent increase year-over-year.
Newly-listed Toronto one-bedroom homes averaged $2,620 in August, up almost 11 per cent from the year before, while two-bedroom properties had a 7.1 per cent rise over the same time frame to $3,413.
It’s numbers like these that have convinced Kanishka Punjabi to abandon her hopes of moving in the near term.
“Two days ago, I gave up on my search because the rental market is that bad,” she said.
The public relations worker has been living in Mississauga, Ont., but felt it was time to find a home in downtown or midtown Toronto, closer to where she works.
However, few of the two-bedroom homes she spotted in her two-month search were within her $2,800 budget.
For example, one apartment she liked at the intersection of Yonge and Eglinton streets had 25 offers in just over a week.
“Some people actually just sent in their offer without looking at the apartment too because there are so many people who are in desperate need of rental units,” said Punjabi. “There’s just not enough.”
The Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp. has projected that the country needs to build 3.5 million additional homes beyond what’s planned before the market reaches some semblance of affordability.
It also calculated that the annual pace of housing starts — when construction begins on a home — edged down one per cent in August to 252,787 units compared with 255,232 in July.
Despite the nudge down, Rishi Sondhi, an economist with TD Bank Group, said it has been a strong year for starts because the industry is responding to elevated prices by building at a robust pace.
But between population growth and rising interest rates, he said, “supply is struggling to keep up with demand” and that’s bound to weigh on renters for quite some time.
“In the short term, it would be unrealistic to expect too much of a reprieve simply because population growth is likely to remain strong through the duration of this year — and that’s really one of the big fundamental drivers,” he said.
“In addition, it’s unlikely to expect affordability in the ownership market to improve too much either because we think the Bank of Canada (key rate) is going to be on hold for the remainder of the year, but there is some risk that they take rates even higher, especially if inflation doesn’t co-operate.”
For renters like Giesinger that message puts even more pressure on her to settle on a place soon.
“Now I’m scrambling to find the money for a deposit and we’re still never really sure like what kind of place we’re going to get,” she said.
“And when you’re battling dozens of other people for a rental it can be super stressful.”
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Sept. 24, 2023.
UCP asks Albertans to consider an Alberta Pension Plan
News release from the United Conservative party
The government is eager to hear your views. To find more information, and participate in a survey, tap the button below.
Albertans deserve a pension plan that reflects their hard work and earnings, and it is up to Albertans to decide which pension plan that is.
-Your UCP Team
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