Votes of confidence in our province

Recently-released WinnipegREALTORS® March MLS® market results  and the Canadian Real Estate Association’s national MLS® statistics provide more proof that Winnipeg and Manitoba are doing better than most Canadian jurisdictions during today’s tougher economic times. 

WinnipegREALTORS® reported the greater Winnipeg market had only a three per cent decline in housing sales and was virtually even with condo activity when compared to the same month last year. First-quarter results showed condo sales were slightly ahead of last year’s pace, while home unit sales were only off by seven per cent. The average house price for the first quarter is up five per cent over 2008.

As for Manitoba, the CREA March market release indicates that on a seasonally-adjusted basis, MLS® sales were up from February levels and the keystone province set a new record for the average selling price in March.

This week, Prime Minister Stephen Harper joined Premier Doer in touring the flood zone in Manitoba. During a news conference, the prime minister pledged federal disaster relief. Furthermore, he confirmed federal government cost-sharing with the province in the $212-million new inland port initiative which will see Winnipeg become a major transportation and logistics hub for trade and manufacturing. The inland port will be located on 20,000 acres of land immediately northwest of the airport tarmac.

Rail and truck depots will be linked to the airport runways so global shipments from across the globe at our 24 hour airport can be rerouted in a timely manner. The key link is a four-lane divided expressway slated for construction in 2010. The expressway will connect the airport and the CP Weston rail inter-modal facility to the Perimeter Highway.

This is just one vote of confidence in Winnipeg’s future among the “good news” maintaining the buoyant real estate market in a year of challenges.

The following are some examples of news stories put together by Destination Winnipeg, the city’s economic development and tourism services agency, to show Winnipeg is bucking the national trend.

• On December 19, history in the story of human rights in Canada was made as Prime Minster Harper, Premier Doer and other officials announced the construction start of the Canadian Museum for Human Rights at the Forks, the first federal museum outside of Ottawa. This $265-million signature attraction is slated to open in 2012 and will be a tremendous education and learning centre for Canadians and visitors from around the world.

• In February, payroll job numbers from Statistics Canada showed Manitoba continuing to hold steady, gaining over 9000 payroll jobs for the year, one of the highest job growth rates in the country while maintaining one of the lowest unemployment rates.

• In February, Statistics Canada data released showed Winnipeg led all major cities in Canada in the growth of building permit values for 2008 as a whole. Building permit values in Winnipeg grew 15 per cent to a record level, while building permit values in Canada declined five per cent for the year.

• In January, Winnipeg REALTORS® announced a new record level for dollar volume of over $2.4 billion in 2008. Then in February, Winnipeg REALTORS® announced a record dollar value for January.

• In February, the Winnipeg Construction Association said the booming construction sector cannot find enough supervisors and skilled tradespeople. A major construction company also commented on the need for more workers for their local office.

• The life sciences sector continues to grow. Cangene, a major player in the biotechnology industry based in Winnipeg, grew in the last quarter and is looking to hire in a range of positions from manufacturing to R&D.

• In January, New Flyer Industries, a leading manufacturer of transit buses based in Winnipeg and the leading supplier of high-demand alternative-fuel buses, reported a 38 per cent increase in its order backlog from the beginning of 2008, providing work well into 2013.

• On December 16, IKEA announced plans for one of its largest stores as an anchor for a new major retail development in Winnipeg.

• In February, Winpak Ltd., a leading plastic-packaging manufacturer in Winnipeg announced a strong year and expansion of capital projects in 2009.

• On February 27, Preseco Oy, an environment technology company based in Finland, announced plans to set up its North American base in Winnipeg.

A few select samples from national and international sources include:

• The editor’s page in the January 26 edition of Maclean’s featured Cooler Than You Think. The story referred to the local economic development and tourism agency’s (Destination Winnipeg’s) Internet campaign and positive developments in the city.

• In February, KPMG’s new report, Exploring Global Frontiers, identified Winnipeg as one of 31 world “locations to watch” as a rapidly emerging Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) centre. Last year, Electronic Data Systems, a leading global technology firm, announced a new BPO operation in Winnipeg leading to 600 jobs. Destination Winnipeg and the Province of Manitoba were very involved in attracting this operation to Winnipeg.

• On February 25, Jeffrey Simpson of the Globe and Mail featured Manitoba’s “steady as she goes” economy. While there are no safe harbours in this recession, Manitoba is weathering the storm better than most other jurisdictions. The story also highlights major manufacturing success stories in Winnipeg in bus manufacturing and the aerospace industry as well as Manitoba’s vast hydro power resources.

• Canada West Foundation’s most recent monthly economic bulletin Currents featured Manitoba’s well-balanced economic profile and forecast. “Manitoba’s economic performance has been very good recently. Many dials on the dashboard indicated positive results … for 2008 and, all things considered, decent growth in 2009.” The article went on to say, “… it is striking how Manitoba is currently sitting as an economic “sweet spot” where prosperity comes from different sources, none of which dominate enough to upset the economic apple cart too much.”

• On Winnipeg’s economy, the Conference Board of Canada’s Metropolitan Outlook Winter 2009 said, “solid economic growth in recent years has led to steady employment expansion, with more than 20,000 jobs created between 2005 and 2008 … Continued economic advances will attract more newcomers and elevate housing starts over the medium-term.” The Conference Board projects Winnipeg to have the third-highest GDP growth among 27 Canadian cities in 2009, following strong growth in 2008.

Destination Winnipeg Inc. is Winnipeg’s economic development and tourism services agency, an arm’s-length organization led by a private sector board with core funding from the city of Winnipeg and the province of Manitoba. 

Destination Winnipeg markets the city and provides services to facilitate economic development and tourism opportunities for Winnipeg in collaboration with partners.