Alberta government pulls staff from downtown; adds to growing vacancy rate
The province says they chose to move because it’s cost-effective and improves work environment
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Businesses must have a good reason for moving hundreds of workers from the core, as the shift will add to Edmonton’s growing downtown office vacancy rate, according to a manager with the Edmonton Economic Development Corporation.
The province recently announced it will move 450 of its employees from the Centre West building, located at 10035 108 Street. Half of those workers will move out of the downtown area.
Aileen Machell, spokeswoman for Infrastructure Minister Brian Mason, said half will move to the Neil Crawford Centre, located near 113 Street and Belgravia Road, while the other half will go to offices near the legislature.
Jimmy Shewchuk, business development manager at EEDC, said the government’s move needs to be better justified, as the city is looking to grow the downtown.
“You’re losing some employees downtown and you’re losing a business downtown,” he said. “And I never want to see that.”
Machell said the government has a responsibility to manage its buildings cost-effectively and appropriately for its employees.
She said the average density of government office space across Alberta is 32 square metres per person.
“If we reach our target density of 18 square metres per person, we expect to save tens of millions in lease costs per year,” she said.
The move is expected to result in an extra 130,000 square feet in vacancy downtown. Currently, the city’s office vacancy rate is 13 per cent.
Three years ago, the city spent $18-million to renovate Capital Boulevard, which runs next to the Centre West Building. The renovations included the installation of black granite, planters and new concrete.
But to combat the city’s growing office vacancy, Shewchuk said the city is currently looking at partners to develop a plan to grow business.