It may be a small town with only about 8,000 people, but Edson is experiencing a big boost in visitors.
“Our rentals are at zero per cent vacancy, our hotels are full, the workers are actually supporting our restaurants, our stores, our service businesses,” Edson and District Chamber of Commerce President Karen Spencer-Miller said.
The mayor of Edson, about 200 km west of Edmonton, Kevin Zahara said over the past year, the region has undergone a noticeable change in economic growth.
Roughly 2,000 people have moved to the community because of three large energy projects underway in the region.
“We have a lot of natural gas producers so that’s one of the reasons why Cascade is being built — that’s a $1.5 billion dollar power plant project — and of of course we have the Trans Mountain pipelines coming through to B.C., and TC Energy also has some pipeline projects going on in our area,” said Zahara.
HE said the influx of workers has created a significant demand for living accommodations.
He said events including major hockey tournaments have had to cancel because there is simply no room.
“These folks are staying in our hotels, they’re renting rooms, citizens are renting their basement suites, for example, or maybe renting a room in their homes and bringing in revenue that way,” Zahara said.
This past year, the town has faced some hardships with some high profile crimes and businesses being hit hard by the pandemic.
But the Edson Chamber of Commerce said this financial uptick has benefited bank accounts and improved morale.
“We’re definitely excited, we’re excited for our businesses,” said chamber president Karen Spencer-Miller.
Spencer-Miller said while this boom is temporary, she hopes Edson’s prime geographic location and economic opportunities will draw in more people and businesses to want to stay long-term.
And Mayor Zahara said incentives are in place for that.
“We are taking a number of initiatives to reduce red tape currently in order to encourage development. We have some bylaws in place if someone wants to develop a commercial property, for example, they don’t have to pay taxes for the first two years of that development,” Zahara said.
Zahara said at this point the town doesn’t know how much money has been brought in with this recent boom, but whatever that amount may be, it’s a welcome boost.
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