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County of Grande Prairie tops Western Investor list for real estate investors

Northwest Alberta county is resource-rich, economically diversified with high incomes, a growing population, low real estate prices and a pro-business climate
Hetti Huls and Chris King of County of Grande Prairie economic development. | Submitted

The November issue of Western Investor presents our annual list of the top five destinations for real estate investors. This year the growing County of Grande Prairie, Alberta, is ranked No. 1. Here’s why:

The County of Grande Prairie in northwestern Alberta has consistently stood out for its economic strength and diversity. Its economic base includes forestry, energy, agriculture, construction and manufacturing, as well as tourism, hospitality and retail.

With its proximity to the world-class Montney-Duvernay natural gas fields, the county is also the service hub for the Peace Region’s energy industry, which is expanding.

Alberta-based Nauticol has confirmed it will build a $2.4 billion methanol manufacturing facility in the county. The facility is expected to produce up to three million tonnes of methanol annually, while creating 3,000 jobs, including 1,000 construction jobs and 200 permanent positions when it begins operation in 2022.

A major draw for county business is a young educated talent pool, rail, air and highway links to international markets and a median family income of $134,049. The county surrounds the City of Grande Prairie, with a combined population of nearly 100,000. An expansive trade area of 290,000 people within 200-kilometres generates an estimated $1.5 billion in retail spending annually.

The county’s anchor is its pro-business government with low property taxes and little red tape. That means quick turnaround for building approvals: less than 24-hours for residential permits and fewer than 45 days for industrial applications.

County Economic development manager Chris King credits the County’s proactive stance for avoiding the bust and boom economic cycles experienced in much of Alberta.

“The County’s approach to managing growth is an innovative blueprint for balancing quality of life with economic and population growth in a way that’s smart and sustainable,” said King.

One can buy a nice three-bedroom home in the County for $289,000 or less, based on local listings.

Attracting global interest is a 7,000-acre (2,800-hectare) heavy industrial district –located just south of the County in Greenview – that will soon be shovel-ready. The development is a joint venture involving the Greenview, the County and the City of Grande Prairie.

The City of Grande Prairie recently put two parcels of land on the market for expressions of interest These are a 2.5-acre commercial site downtown and 17.8-acres zoned commercial on high-traffic corridor, Resources Road.

With a landmass of about 5,400 square kilometres, there’s plenty of county land allocated for growth.

In 2019, the county saw positive residential permit growth of 2.7 percent. Non-residential expansion reached 8.4 percent, according to county data.

Said King: “Those numbers are strong indicators that the County is vibrant and active.”

To read about our other top towns for investors – Kamloops, Colwood and Osoyoos, in B.C., and Saskatoon – pick up a copy of Western Investor’s November edition.