09/19/2012 03:05 EDT | Updated 09/19/2012 03:17 EDT

Calgary, Edmonton Economic Growth To Lead The Country


Calgary and Edmonton economic growth is expected to lead the country over the next four years, according to the Conference Board of Canada.

The board, in its Metropolitan Outlook-Autumn 2012, said the two Alberta cities will be the hottest economic performers in the country well into the second half of the decade, thanks largely to Alberta’s booming oil and gas industry.

“Energy-related investment in Alberta is expected to stay vibrant throughout the next four years. For instance, about $29-billion worth of energy-related projects are now under way in the province, and nearly $86-billion worth of projects are proposed for the future,” said Mario Lefebvre, Director, Centre for Municipal Studies.

The board’s outlook pegs Edmonton’s growth – which is already coming off a 6.3% boost in real GDP in 2011 – at 4.6% this year. Meanwhile, Calgary’s economic growth is expected to reach 3.8% by the end of 2012, the board added.

That growth is expected to continue from 2013 to 2016, with Calgary seeing an average annual GDP growth of 3.7% and Edmonton experiencing similar growth with an average annual GDP increase of 3.5%.

Alberta cities are thriving because of good growth potential that’s not being tampered by too many challenges, Dan Overall, vice-president of research, workforce and strategy with Calgary Economic Development, told the Calgary Sun.

We’re as close to an economic sweet spot as a city can be right now,” he told The Sun.

“A lot of our sectors seem to be firing on all cylinders — we’ve got consumer spending staying strong, construction is looking really good and the energy sector is looking, really, really good.”

But Ben Brunnen, chief economist with the Calgary Chamber of Commerce, offered a word of caution in an interview with The Financial Post.

“While the growth will be the strongest in the country, particularly for our cities, that doesn’t necessarily mean that we’re in great economic times," he told the Financial Post.

“There are some storm clouds on the horizon. I expect fully we’ll see a recession in Europe. The Chinese economy is slowing substantially. And the U.S. has its election coming forward. What this means is there’s going to be a dampening on economic growth globally and as a consequence it’s going to affect Canada.”

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