Archive for September 2011

A couple of Calgary real estate links to start your week   Leave a comment

Weakened economy or not, I still have to look for the positives.  Not because I’m naively optimistic… no chance of that happening when it comes to my money.  But it helps to be reminded – and to remind others – that this region is still economically viable.  More than viable, in fact.  You need to be aware of some of those indicators.  For example:

Demand strong for Calgary office space

Downtown vacancy rate drops to 6.4%


By Mario Toneguzzi / September 16, 2011

CALGARY — Demand for office space in the Calgary market continues to be strong with the downtown vacancy rate experiencing a significant drop.

According to Cushman & Wakefield’s Q3 National Office Trends Report, released Friday, Calgary was one of the few cities that continued to see strong demand biased toward central markets.

“Calgary had increased activity over the summer months across the downtown market driven by companies trying to lock down space while space is available,” said the report. “Calgary’s downtown area is characterized by large energy companies and when demand is strong, the market erodes space very quickly.

“Calgary’s central area vacancy rate fell to 6.4 per cent over the third quarter, down from 9.1 per cent one quarter ago. The suburban vacancy rate rose from 11.6 per cent to 12.1 per cent. Suburban demand is anticipated to pick up in the coming quarters.”

Bob MacDougall, senior managing director for Cushman & Wakefield in Calgary, said the downtown Calgary office market continues to be driven by the oil and gas industry and related services.

“With no new building developments announced — although some are anticipated — the lack of any available meaningful contiguous space downtown in the short term suggests that solutions for substantial requirements will only be found in the surrounding Beltline or suburban markets either through existing stock, shell space that can be readily modified, or build-to-suit developments that can be completed to market earlier than any downtown product can be built,” he said.

He said there is a direct correlation in office demand to much stronger oil prices today than in the last few years.

“The return (to higher oil prices) was faster than we thought it would ever take place,” said MacDougall.

“When drilling activity is high and when prices are high it absolutely affects capital spending. Projects that were off-stream when things failed in 2008 and 2009 are now on stream and there’s more of them. The oil and gas sector is healthy. The engineering sector is healthy. More projects are being announced all the time. More joint ventures. More international players coming in . . . not just having some investment in these projects but starting to have a presence in the downtown core. Now that presence is quite small but it’s going to grow.”

With a central district inventory of just over 42.2 million square feet, Calgary has experienced absorption this year of more than 1.8 million square feet. Absorption alone in the third quarter was 572,545 square feet.

The strength of the energy sector is evident in land sales as energy companies in the province have spent a record amount on acquiring land rights so far this year.

“And because land acquisition is one of the initial steps in the exploration and production process, this bodes well for future activity in the energy sector,” said Dan Sumner, economist with ATB Financial in Calgary.

As of the most recent crown land sale on Sept. 7, provincial bonuses for crown land totalled $2.71 billion in 2011, said Sumner, adding that land sales this year are nearly quadruple their level in 2009 and higher than during any of the years of the mid-decade energy boom.


Calgary region housing starts set to rise: Conference Board of Canada

By Mario Toneguzzi / September 16, 2011

CALGARY — The Calgary region’s homebuilding industry is forecast to see a rise in activity.

The Conference Board of Canada said Friday that short and long-term expectations for housing starts in the Calgary census metropolitan area were both positive.

A year ago, the board said the seasonally-adjusted annual rate of housing starts for the Calgary CMA was 9,541 units.

Now in August, the board has upped that number to 13,752 starts.

Short-term expectations are based on residential permits data.

Long-term expectations are based on demographic requirements.

According to Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp., year-to-date until the end of August, housing starts in the Calgary CMA are down 18.3 per cent compared with the same period a year ago. Total starts this year are down to 5,425 for the first eight months of the year.

The CMHC said single-detached starts of 3,350 are off by 23.3 per cent year-to-date while multiple-family starts of 2,075 have decreased by 8.7 per cent.

But in August there was a positive sign for the homebuilding industry.

Total starts were up 44.2 per cent from August 2010 with single-detached starts recording a 14.1 per cent hike and multi starts soaring by 74.6 per cent.

“This represents the first year-over-year increase in single-detached construction following 12 consecutive months of declines,” said Lai Sing Louie, the CMHC’s regional economist for the Prairies and Territories region.


Both articles, courtesy of the Calgary Herald – links attached to the titles, any bolding in the articles come from me.

Posted September 19, 2011 by JasonMacAskill in Uncategorized

A call to action to all my friends – help!   Leave a comment

If you’ve talked to me lately, or read my updates in various places, or tried to find me (I haven’t been home much)… you know I started a new job.  For the last three weeks, I’ve been training, travelling, and meeting people.  It’s been hectic, and my eternal thanks go out to a loving and supportive family.

A couple of bullet points.  My base of operations is Stage West Calgary.  I work under the umbrella of Stagewest Hospitality, while also doing work as assigned for the Kachkar Group.

You: “Meaning what, exactly..?”

Here’s what.

Simply put. my jobs are putting butts in seats, and heads in beds.  Stagewest Hospitality owns and/or manages eight different properties – hotels, casinos, dinner theatres, resorts, and restaurants all fall into this mix, and some of these properties actually feature more than one of these.  For example, the Stoney Nakoda Resort and Casino is a hotel containing 111 suites, and as you might have guessed, also houses a casino boasting 299 slot machines and various gaming tables.  Thus, many of these properties are truly multi-purpose facilities.

So how can I achieve my goal of getting more people to go to these places?  Here’s where you can help.


Are you, or do you know, a social club coordinator for any business?

Are you, or do you know, a person that organizes corporate local or out-of-town events, business meetings, or retreats?

Are you, or do you know, a person that fundraises for their company, charity, or community?

Are you, or do you know, a person that rewards their customers, employees, co-workers, and/or vendors with some sort of incentive or gift?

Are you, or do you know, a person that buys event tickets for family and friends?

Are you, or do you know, a person that promotes or sells their product(s) at trade shows?

Are you, or do you know, a person that works for a regionally-, nationally-, or internationally-based company in the Calgary or Toronto markets?

Are you, or do you know, a person involved in the travel or tour industry?

Are you, or do you know, a person that organizes “stay and play” trips for their company, featuring shopping, golf, and/or other outdoor activities?

Are you, or do you know, a person looking for a wedding venue?

Are you, or do you know, a person that enjoys a night out “on the town?”


It doesn’t matter where you live, and by all means, I encourage each and every one of you that might read this to think outside the box – if it isn’t listed, that doesn’t mean it can’t be done.  People like to have fun; they like to travel, relax and eat and enjoy good company… and if it’s not THEIR money, all the better.  I’m back in the hospitality industry, and one of my first challenges is simply creating an awareness of what the Stagewest Hospitality brand can do.

And if you CAN help me, well, don’t think I won’t forget it.  My generosity knows no bounds.*

*This is not a guarantee – my generosity is, in fact, somewhat bound.  But I will try to make it worth your while to thank you for your altruism.

I’ll have Stagewest contact info shortly, but in the meantime, e-mail, social media, and my cell are all great ways to reach me.  Thanks in advance, and if you have any questions, don’t hesitate to contact me.

Posted September 14, 2011 by JasonMacAskill in Uncategorized

The weekend that was   Leave a comment

Just got back from Nakoda on the Lake.  For the last two days, it hosted the various managers from all of the Stagewest properties for meetings, meetings, and more meetings.  In between and after the meetings, the food was good and the drinks were cold – about as cold as my cards were last night.

I’m still new to the Stagewest Hospitality family.  Like I just mentioned, there were a lot of people at this organizational summit, and I’ve only met a handful of them.  The Calgar people, of course, and then one of two each from the Medicine Hat Lodge, the Camrose Resort Casino, Stoney Nakoda Resort, and Nakoda on the Lake.  I arrived early Sunday morning, shook a few hands on the way in – including that of the president, Jason Pechet, whom to that point I’d never met – and went upstairs.  When everyone settled in, Jason spoke for a few minutes, then Joel Conley, the director of marketing and sales at Stagewest Calgary… then me.

Let me back up a minute.  We, the members of the sales team, had been told that we would be introducing ourselves and making a short presentation about each of the properties.  But the details were very… fluid… as to when, where, how, and for whom.  I did some homework the night before, just in case, but still, I was not expecting to be up in front of the crowd so soon.


It went well.  When we were done, neither Statler nor Waldorf jeered us (link provided and pictured at the bottom for those too young to remember), nor were we escorted from the property.  If anything, I’m glad we got to speak in front of everybody so soon – no time to panic.

The break-out meetings and follow-up sessions were long, thought-provoking, and extremely useful to me.  I will never learn every tiny fact about each Stagewest property, but I AM learning about the pros and cons of each.  Furthermore, these meetings were intended to help create synergies between the properties, and I think it went well in that regard, too.

And the food.  My God, I’m gonna need maternity pants at this rate.  A brunch buffet with ample amounts of fish, then a dinner buffet featuring lamb and bison (both at the Lodge); then we enjoyed a five-course meal at Stoney Nakoda the next night.  It’s a rough job, but somebody has to do it.

I drove home last night after an all-too-quick game of cards with the Stagewest folks, and they did their best to welcome me into a pretty tightly-knit fraternity.  It was good to put faces to names, and they became more than just titles on business cards.  I’m really looking forward to working with this crew in the months to come.

(Still haven’t been to Stagewest Mississauga.  Hoping that’s next on the list.  Please make it happen, Mo, Laurie, or Amanda.)



Posted September 13, 2011 by JasonMacAskill in Uncategorized

Note to self: edit your Posterous page   Leave a comment

A busy week of learning the ropes here at Stage West Calgary.  Lots of photocopying, and e-mailing, and trying to learn people’s names.  It’s the first week I’ve been settled into an office after my whirlwind tour around Alberta.

And it’s not ending just yet.  Nakoda on the Lake beckons.  More meetings.  More people to meet, and learn from.  My brain is overflowing with knowledge already, but dammit, I’m going to have to cram more Stagewest-y goodness in there.

Did I mention it’s hot outside?  I feel like a kid who didn’t want summer vacation to end.  I mean, really, it is SO NICE out there right now.  And it’s Friday.  I’m just sayin’…

Alright, back to work.  I promise I’ll put a little more content into this thing in the coming days and weeks – unless it’s sunny outside.


Posted September 9, 2011 by JasonMacAskill in Uncategorized

The reason I haven’t blogged in a while – and it’s a good one   1 comment

I’d like to thank all four of my subscribers for hanging in there with me all this time (he said immodestly)…

Since I started using this medium to record my thoughts, I’ve tried to be consistently timely.  Whether it was writing about Tim Raines, or informing you that the city of Detroit might erect a Robocop statue, or – most importantly – discussing alternative investment.  Landing with Jason came about when I started working at Belterra Land Company ( with my friend Chris Artibello.  For the past year, I’ve been learning about the ins and outs of investing in land, providing information on our current Alberta-based projects in central Alberta, and building a clientele of prospective investors.  I’ve met LOTS of people, folks I wouldn’t have otherwise unless I was part of the Belterra team.

It has been quite the learning experience.  It hasn’t been easy, either, but much more rewarding and satisfying than what I had been doing prior to working at Belterra.  Like I mentioned, I’ve made some new friends, and that’s never a bad thing.  I’ve had my eyes opened to diversifying my own portfolio, and I’ve invested accordingly – putting my money where my mouth in, so to speak.  I’ll always be grateful for the opportunity Chris (and Aden, and Sylvain) put in front of me.

But last month, I got an offer I couldn’t refuse…

And now I have a new job.

For the past two weeks, I have been training and travelling as an Event Coordinator for Stagewest Hospitality.  (At least, I THINK that’s what my business cards will say when I eventually receive them.)  If you’d like to take a moment, here is their website: .

Why the change?  Well, first I want to make one thing perfectly clear – I am NOT leaving Belterra permanently.  I will still be networking on behalf of the group; I will still be using my blog to promote Belterra, land investment, and central Alberta; I will still be doing my best to sell units of land in Red Deer.  I’ve put too much effort and time into this to walk away from it, and again, it’s been fun.  So if you, the reader, still want info or know somebody that does, by all means, send them my way.

However, working for Stagewest plays better to my work experience, and I also think it will be better for me.  Way back when, I was booking groups and coordinating events for the Calgary Cannons baseball team… well, that’s exactly what I’m doing now.  My job is to book events and fill rooms at the various Stagewest properties, help organize events for groups and fundraisers, and make sure that they have a fun, worry-free time in the process.  I can do that.  I LIKE doing that!

So far, I’ve been to Edmonton, Camrose, Medicine Hat, and Kananaskis – trust me, it’s more glamorous than it sounds.  I’ve been well-fed and -watered everywhere I’ve been, learning about the individual properties and the overall corporate philosophies.  Last Friday, I attended media night at Stagewest Calgary, sampled (gorged on?) an awesome buffet, and watched a show called Shady Business, which was very entertaining.

And I’m not just saying that, either.

I’ll be travelling more, which can be good and bad, but that’s part of the job.  We’ll likely have monthly meetings, rotating between the Stagewest properties, and those add up on both the odometer and the goodwill I currently enjoy with my wife and children.  A trip to Mississauga to see the hotel and theatre is a distinct possiblility, though I have no idea when that might occur.  Also, I’ll be travelling to various cities not necessarily affiliated with Stagewest, working at trade shows for the Kachkar Group ( .  Health and wellness, home and leisure, oil and gas… they do them all.  So just when I thought I finally escaped Grande Prairie… I will probably be back very, very soon.  Dagnabit.

To those of you who I approached about land investment, looking for help or referrals… I will most likely be reaching out again for your help in my new role with Stagewest.  If you know anyone that fundraises, or books corporate retreats, or wants to plan “stay and play” events – or anything else, I’m open to suggestions – let me know.  E-mail, cell phone, etc… nothing is changing.  If anything, there will just be MORE ways to get ahold of me.  Needless to say, I’ll be using this blog for that as well.

If you know anybody that wants to learn about land investment, I am just as available.

And finally, thanks to anyone that has helped and supported me this past year, especially these last few months.  It’s been quite the year, and I’m looking forward to making the remainder of it a even greater one. 


(This is not how the job offer was presented to me.  This is a scene from Shady Business, playing now.)

Posted September 5, 2011 by JasonMacAskill in Uncategorized