Prince George – Things are Happening Here
Prince George, B.C.- Over the past few months, developers have been vocal with their praise for the Development and Planning Department at Prince George City Hall, saying it is clear Prince George is open for business. The number of projects underway would underscore those comments.The Marriott hotel, additions to the Downtown energy system, development of the Inland Kenworth site on 97 south, and of course the Riverbend Seniors complex are some of the projects sparking activity in the City.
Building permits are up. Year to date numbers show permits for new single family dwellings as of the end of June (78) were about four times what they were last year (18) and the year before (22) for the same six month period.
When you look at permits for all categories for the same time period, there have been 218 permits issued compared to 80 for the first six months of last year, and 121 in the same period in 2014.
What’s driving the action? Mayor Lyn Hall says it may be partly a result of a positive Conference Board of Canada report “When they came out with their report showing Prince George as the top economic community based on comparables throughout the country, I think people are realizing that we are truly a hub city, we are truly the Northern capital, and we’re a great centre to access the northeast and the northwest of the province where at some point, there could be a tremendous amount of work on LNG and of course, Site C, mining. I think people have just taken notice.”
Manager of Economic Development for the City, Melissa Barcellos says the activity doesn’t stop with new construction, as vacancy rates in the downtown have been declining over the past few years and for the first time in a long time, there is no vacancy on 4th Avenue. The Move Up Prince George campaign, designed to bring awareness of the advantages of living and working in P.G., is paying off says Barcellos including media interest from other markets such as a recent article about Prince George in the Globe and Mail and a feature on a Vancouver radio station .
There have been three calls this week alone from people looking to relocate to P.G. says Barcellos “The fact that they are actually reaching out to us and making that phone call shows us they are serious. I can only imagine how many people are thinking about it but not making the call.”
She says companies posting job listings report 14% of the hires they have made have come from out of town.
The Move Up Prince George website itself has been recognized as stellar “It has been given a gold award from the International Economic Development Council in the category of Special Purpose Website”. She says that in less than two years since that website was launched, there have been nearly 135 thousand unique visitors, and they are coming from the target markets of Vancouver, Toronto, Calgary, Edmonton and Surrey. Most who visit the site are between the ages of 25 and 44, “Which is exactly our target audience” says Barcellos. While there is also a great deal of traffic to the site from Prince George she says that’s a good thing too “It was designed to change the perceptions of Prince George and make them more accurate and more recently we are trying to do more locally to contribute to the community spirit that we’re seeing in town and the positivity locally.”
Mayor Hall says Prince George has the complete package, “Housing is affordable, there are opportunities for employment, for opening up a business here, there are educational opportunities for children it has the entire package right here.” He says he is excited about seeing what the latest census will show for population numbers in Prince George “I am pretty excited and will have to wait a bit longer to see what Stats Canada will come up with, but I think we will ( see population growth) I don’t even want to hazard a guess as to what that number might be, but I think we will see some growth.”