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Category: Hicks on Biz columns from The Edmonton Sun

Hicks on Biz columns from The Edmonton Sun

Hicks on Biz: The death of the pine beetle ... or not? By GRAHAM HICKS, first published EDMONTON SUN, March 8, 2019

The needles of pine trees infected by the mountain pine beetle turn red before the tree dies, as visible on Whistlers Mountain in Jasper National Park on July 12, 2018.Janet French / Postmedia By GRAHAM HICKS One or two weeks, they kept telling us. One or two weeks of blistering cold weather would knock the dreaded pine beetle back on its collective butt. The billions, if not trillions of rice-sized varmints overwintering in our forests were supposed to freeze to a well-deserved death, as the deep cold penetrated into the inner bark off of which the  beetles feed. Well? Well? We just had the coldest February on record for the past 40 years! STORY CONTINUES BELOW Are the pine beetles frozen toast?  In the Battle of Alberta, will the pine beetles be stopped in their current occupied territory — an arc of infected forest swinging from Grande Prairie to Slave Lake to Whitecourt, over to Hinton and Jasper National Park? Umm … ahh … mayb ... Read the rest of entry »

Hicks on Biz: Edmonton — air-cargo gateway to Asia By GRAHAM HICKS, first published EDMONTON SUN, February 22, 2019

The airport tower at Edmonton International Airport.Greg Southam / Edmonton Journal By GRAHAM HICKS Two weeks ago this column told the story of how the Edmonton International Airport (EIA), in the late-’90s, overcame internal conflict (consolidating two airports into one) and the indifference, if not outright hostility, to its very existence from the airline industry itself. Courageous decisions made 20 years ago are being splendidly reaped today. The EIA is Canada’s fifth biggest (in total passengers) airport. Our “Airport City” has become a powerful wealth generator/economic driver for all Northern Alberta. Today, in more supportive circumstances, similar long-sighted EIA decisions are being made. Worldwide air cargo has magnificent growth potential. Customers around the world demand faster delivery of high-value products. STORY CONTINUES BELOW Readying for the next 20 years, the Edmonton airport authority sees itself ideally positioned as a ... Read the rest of entry »

Hicks on Biz: Alberta's restaurant crisis By GRAHAM HICKS, first published EDMONTON SUN, February 15, 2019

Labour Minister Christina Gray watches worker Shawn Mohammed make her donair after speaking with co-owner Adil Asim of Prime Time Donair & Kabab, to discuss recent changes to Alberta's employment standards in downtown Edmonton, January 23, 2018. Ed Kaiser/PostmediaEd Kaiser Ed Kaiser / Ed Kaiser/Postmedia It won’t go down in Alberta political history as the gaffe on which turned the as-yet-uncalled 2019 provincial election. But, to my mind, the Rachel Notley government pounded some final nails into its coffin this past Tuesday. Labour Minister Christina Gray deliberately snubbed an emergency meeting here in Edmonton, called by the Restaurants Canada association and entitled “Restaurant Realities: Raising Our Voice In Alberta.” Gray was scheduled to speak, alongside opposition party leaders Jason Kenney and Stephen Mandel who did address the restaurant-owner crowd. But Gray’s office informed the organizers the day before that Gray had to attend to a “pres ... Read the rest of entry »

Hicks on Biz: Flying high at Edmonton International Airport By GRAHAM HICKS, first published EDMONTON SUN, February 8, 2019

Westjet and Air Canada aircraft are seen on the apron at Edmonton International Airport in Nisku, Alberta on Monday, September 18, 2017.Ian Kucerak / Postmedia By GRAHAM HICKS In this “what-have-you-done-for-me-lately” world, we forget that today’s prosperity was built upon courageous decisions made in the past. That tomorrow’s well-being depends on decisions  made today. Ladies and gentlemen, may I present you with astounding proof of past courageous decisions. Edmonton International Airport and  its amazing “Airport City” are dynamic and thriving.  Hundreds of growing industrial and service companies are located here because of the airport’s ever-growing cargo and passenger capabilities. Yesterday’s decisions: In the early ’90s, Edmonton’s aviation sector was a mess. The “International Airport” was barely functional, with next-to-no American or international flights. STORY CONTINUES BELOW ... Read the rest of entry »

Hicks on Biz: Green spending lunacy By GRAHAM HICKS, first published EDMONTON SUN, February 1, 2019

Solar panels are seen in this 2014 file photo.Mike Hensen / Postmedia By GRAHAM HICKS Elise Stolte writes a civic affairs column in The Edmonton Journal. This past week, occasioned by city hall’s decision to top up a provincial rebate for home solar-panel installations and other energy-conservation measures, she reviewed the labyrinth of provincial and municipal rebates amounting to an enormous 40 per cent subsidy, at least on solar panel installations. Her column concluded that such rebates — affecting 625 of 300,000 properties in Edmonton — have little if any effect on the City of Edmonton’s greenhouse gas  reduction targets. She had a few alternative suggestions — all government dependent. This whole business — not Stolte’s column, but the profligate spending of billions upon billions of taxpayer dollars to allegedly fight global warming with so little results — gets my blood boiling. Governments,  STOP SPENDING OUR MONEY!!!! ... Read the rest of entry »

Hicks on Biz: To build or not to build more hotels in downtown Edmonton By GRAHAM HICKS, first published EDMONTON SUN, January 25, 2019

A preliminary design of the new hotel development underway in the former Enbridge Tower. The 23-storey building was purchased by Lighthouse Hospitality Management Inc. at the end of April.Edmonton By GRAHAM HICKS Before Christmas, a public relations company invited a bunch of movers and shakers to the Edmonton Convention Centre. On behalf of the Edmonton Economic Development Corporation (EEDC), the PR folks floated a “what if” trial balloon. How about a new, convention-oriented hotel on the Convention Centre’s west side, glued on the existing building as to insulate conventioneers from -25C daytime highs? An intriguing notion – but not for 20 or 30 years. In fact, it’s blatantly obvious why such a hotel is not currently needed. STORY CONTINUES BELOW Between now and 2021, four brand-new ritzy hotels will open in the downtown – expanding the number of quality hotel rooms within walking distance of the Convention Centre by over one-third, from ... Read the rest of entry »

Hicks on Biz: Edmonton's high-rise rental market is on a roll By GRAHAM HICKS first published EDMONTON SUN, January 18, 2019

A view of downtown standing on the 69th floor of the Stantec Tower which is now the highest tower in Western Canada as ICE District celebrates the final topping off of the tower in Edmonton, November 16, 2018.Ed Kaiser / Postmedia By GRAHAM HICKS What do the Big Guys know that we don’t? Alberta’s economic indicators have been lousy since the great oil crash and are not predicted to get any better in 2019. The average value of residential homes in Edmonton has dropped for three years in a row. Yet the city’s commercial real estate market, as reported earlier this week, had a rosy glow in 2018. Within that sector, high-rise rental apartment buildings are the new gold standard. Pension funds, REITS (real estate income trusts) and other institutional buyers have been piling into Edmonton in recent months, buying up every high-rise rental apartment building that’s come on the market and offering premium dollars to do so. The paint was barely dry on the 260-unit Hen ... Read the rest of entry »

Hicks on Biz: EEDC boss treads water By GRAHAM HICKS, first published EDMONTON SUN January 11, 2019

EEDC CEO Derek Hudson speaks to the media following the organization's annual impact luncheon on Jan. 8, 2019. Paige ParsonsPaige Parsons By GRAHAM HICKS I have reported on the Edmonton Economic Development Corporation (EEDC) since its inception in 1993. This octopus of an organization, with many arms doing many things for the City of Edmonton, is weird but important. It has a board of directors, but the city is its biggest funder ($20 million of its $70 million annual budget) and the City of Edmonton is its official owner. Its CEO is the de-facto leader of Edmonton’s business community. That leader, whoever it may be, usually makes one important speech a year to that community — reporting on the economic state of Edmonton, defining what needs to be done for the community and in particular by EEDC, and how to get there. In other words, being a leader. I’ve gotta tell ya, the first major speech by EEDC’s latest CEO, at Tuesday’s EEDC Annual Impact Luncheon, w ... Read the rest of entry »

Hicks on Biz: Alberta’s Groundhog Day, 2019 By GRAHAM HICKS, first published EDMONTON SUN, January 4, 2019

A train loaded with oil sits idle on tracks in Everett, Wash., on Sept. 2, 2014. Alberta Premier Rachel Notley says the province plans to buy up to 7,000 rail cars to move Alberta oil.THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP, Elaine Thompson By GRAHAM HICKS Welcome to Groundhog Day, 2019. Remember the movie, where Bill Murray’s character relives the same day, over and over and over? Getting oil out of Alberta is our Groundhog Day. Since Hicks on Biz debuted in 2011, at least 20 columns have been about oil pipeline bottlenecks. In 2011, there were warning signs, but nothing was done. By 2019, we’re in an oil-transportation crisis that’s grinding away at Alberta’s living standards.  Edmonton housing prices have fallen for the third year running. New vehicle sales are declining. Need anybody wonder why? It’s the same-old, same-old, year-after-year. No new pipelines get built! NOTHING happens! Pipeline announced, pipeline approved, pipeline approval overturned, pipeline p ... Read the rest of entry »

Hicks on Biz: The crisis in Alberta is NOW By GRAHAM HICKS, first published EDMONTON SUN, December 28, 2018

Hundreds of truckers joined the Truck Convoy in Nisku on December 19, 2018 to support the oil and gas industry in Alberta.Larry Wong / POSTMEDIA NETWORK By GRAHAM HICKS You do not have to be a petroleum engineer to see where Alberta is heading in 2019. Down, down, down. Not an earth-shattering Depression-era or early-‘80s downward spiral. Just the same relentless grinding – the same double-clutching through endless muck – as has been happening since the Great Oil Price Collapse of 2014. It’s not about massive lay-offs, not in the private sector. Every job done by a human being that could be eliminated has been eliminated. It’s about 0% wage increases, a steady cutting of employee benefits, no more company pension plans, buy-outs of employees 55 or older … Graduates from NAIT or the University of Alberta in any of the “hard” sciences – i.e. engineering, computer programming – used to have jobs waved in their faces. N ... Read the rest of entry »