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Stampede spirit boosts attendance but Calgary economy still in recovery mode



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  • Calgary’s economy is looking good as Stampede spirit grips Canada’s oil and gas headquarters city — but not quite as good as it was a few years ago.

    The annual outdoor event set an attendance record for its parade day last Friday and cumulative attendance through Tuesday is second only to the overall record set in 2012 when the Stampede celebrated its 100th anniversary.

    Similarly, sponsorship rights to the 36 chuckwagons invited to race at the Stampede raised $3.2 million last March in an auction. That was much higher than the $2.4 million in 2017, but well behind 2012’s record high of just over $4 million.

    Ben Gerwing, president of a cowboy boot manufacturer in Calgary that is celebrating its 40th anniversary, said that this year started out more promising than in the past couple years but it business has “tailed off” in recent weeks..

    “I think there’s still a fair bit of uncertainty going on, even with more people going back to work,” Gerwing said.

    He said Alberta Boot Co. sales are down about five per cent from 2017 but the company still hopes to sell about 1,500 sets of its $300-plus boots.

    Better times in the economy have been touted frequently by Premier Rachel Notley and other members of the NDP government as they make frequent appearances at the 10-day event, which wraps up on Sunday. A provincial election is expected to be called next spring. 

    “There’s a great buzz around Calgary. People are very encouraged,” Notley said before marching in the parade last Friday.

    “It’s been a great start to what we know is the greatest outdoor show on earth and I believe of course that was very much linked to Calgary’s economic recovery,” she told her cabinet in Calgary after her Stampede breakfast on Monday.

    The statistics paint a picture of an economy still recovering from a recession that technically ended in 2016.

    The June unemployment rate in Alberta was 6.5 per cent, a full percentage point better than in the same month last year, but not nearly as good as 4.6 per cent in June 2012.

    Benchmark U.S. oil prices closed at US$74.11 per barrel on Tuesday, up 65 per cent from just over US$45 per barrel a year ago but not as good as the plus-$100 prices in the summer of 2014 — a few months before prices began to plunge.

    U.S. natural gas closed at US$2.79 per mmBTU on Tuesday, down slightly from a year ago, but Canadian gas has averaged only C$1.60 so far this year thanks to an oversupply in Western Canada as U.S. shale gas production rises.

    “I think the mood is starting to get better — starting,” Steve Laut, executive chairman of oilsands and natural gas giant producer Canadian Natural Resources Ltd., said Tuesday on the sidelines of an annual TD Securities energy conference.

    “Oil prices are good but you have to look at natural gas prices. Alberta is very much a natural gas producer. It’s a big part of our revenue and natural gas prices are far from good. They’re very weak.”

    The parties are rocking, however. The “Best Damn Stampede Party” attracted about 5,600 people, about 1,000 more than last year, on the night before Stampede officially began last Friday, said organizer Rob Laidlaw. He said he expects about $170,000 from ticket sales to go to charity.

    “People are just happier. We’ve been through some tough times but things are looking a bit better and they’re ready to go out and have some fun,” said Laidlaw, an investment adviser and vice-president with Acumen Capital Finance Partners.

    “Stock prices in a lot of the energy companies have improving dramatically and, of course, the price of oil certainly helps.”

    Stampede attendance is an indicator of the mood of the population — which is on an upswing — but it’s not a great proxy for the health of the local economy, said Trevor Tombe, an associate professor of economics at the University of Calgary.

    “Calgary is where a disproportionate amount of economic pain is felt in the province, because of the types of job losses that occurred in oil and gas during the recession,” he said.

    The province continued to post some of the best economic numbers in Canada even during the worst of the oil price recession of 2015 and 2016, he said, adding the economy remains strong relative to other provinces but “has some ways to go” to equal its strength in 2014.

    The Stampede itself contributes an estimated $400 million per year to the economy, said spokeswoman Jennifer Booth. She said it adds about 4,000 temporary employees to its 300 full-time and 1,200 part-time permanent staff during the 10-day celebration.


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    Companies mentioned in this story: (TSX:CNQ)

    Dan Healing, The Canadian Press

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    Freeland says Khashoggi killing still open; Trump says facts may never be known



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  • OTTAWA — Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland says Canada will use the upcoming G20 summit in Argentina to push Saudi Arabia for answers in the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

    Freeland says Canada considers his murder to be very much an open case, a contrast to a statement by U.S. President Donald Trump earlier today that the facts surrounding Khashoggi’s death might just never be known.

    She expects the Khashoggi case to be an issue during the talks among leaders of the world’s 20 leading economies, and says Canada will push for a transparent international investigation

    The kingdom is a member of the G20, and the Saudi-owned television station Al-Arabiya says Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, the country’s defacto leader, will attend the summit.

    U.S. intelligence officials have concluded that bin Salman ordered the Oct. 2 killing of Khashoggi inside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, Turkey.

    Trump says maybe bin Salman had knowledge of the killing, or maybe he didn’t, but regardless, Saudi Arabia remains a steadfast partner of the U.S. and has helped keep oil prices stable.

    The Canadian Press

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    Ride-hailing group says B.C. model looks a lot like expanded taxi industry



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  • VANCOUVER — A coalition of businesses and interest groups advocating for ride-hailing in British Columbia says legislation introduced yesterday will just create an expanded taxi industry, not the ride-hailing services that customers expect.

    Ian Tostenson of Ridesharing Now for BC says members are “bewildered” that the future of ride-hailing in the province remains uncertain and the government hasn’t committed to a start date for the service.

    Tostenson, who also represents the BC Restaurant and Food Services Association, says the coalition is especially concerned that the Passenger Transportation Board would have power to limit the number of drivers on the road, where they can drive, and also set rates.

    He says the organization was expecting to see legislation that more closely matched the customer-driven supply and demand model that exists in other jurisdictions.

    Tim Burr of ride-hailing company Lyft says the company sees legislation introduced Monday as a “procedural step forward” but the regulation and rule-making process will come next.

    He says the company is used to rolling up its sleeves to work with legislators and regulators in many jurisdictions and remains committed to working with the B.C. government to bring the service to the province.

    The Canadian Press

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    november, 2018

    thu11oct - 29novoct 115:45 pmnov 29Wellness Recovery Action Planning (WRAP) - CMHA(october 11) 5:45 pm - (november 29) 8:15 pm

    wed21nov5:30 pm- 11:00 pmFestival of Trees Preview Dinner5:30 pm - 11:00 pm

    thu22nov11:30 am- 1:30 pmFestival of Trees Business LunchFestival of Trees11:30 am - 1:30 pm

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    sat24nov10:00 am- 4:00 pmParkland Garden Centre Craft and Market Sale10:00 am - 4:00 pm

    sat24nov6:00 pm- 11:00 pmMistletoe MagicFestival of Trees6:00 pm - 11:00 pm

    sun25nov9:00 am- 12:00 pmBreakfast with SantaFestival of Trees9:00 am - 12:00 pm

    fri30nov - 1decnov 303:00 pmdec 1- 4:00 pmWesterner Park Christmas Artisan Market3:00 pm - (december 1) 4:00 pm