Record-high rents not enough to woo property investors

The Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation’s most recent figures show Estevan, in the heart of Saskatchewan’s oil patch, has the most expensive rent in the province at $1,104 for a two bedroom suit. It’s not much lower than Calgary’s $1,113 average.

Estevan-based Supreme Oilfield Construction has three employees living in trailers behind the building and another man living out of his car in the parking lot due to difficulties finding accommodation, says spokeswoman Diana Insley.

“They pounce on anything that’s ever listed, but by the time they get there another six people have already applied for it,” Insley says.
Estevan Chamber of Commerce executive director Michele Cyrenne says with a vacancy rate near zero and more than 1,200 unfilled jobs there’s a hefty imbalance.

Cyrenne and colleagues are trying to work with developers to find out why no one is building rental properties.

The lack of development seems out of step with a city now leading the province in housing development. Still, interest on the part of investors, big and small, simply isn’t there, says Cyrenne.

“The fact is that wages in the Estevan area are quite high too,” says the chamber head.

One reason for the investor reluctance may be the income gap between oil workers and those who provide them services. It means that, without subsidies to build, an investor may be largely dependent on winning those oildfield workers.

Radio station employee Cara Herperger recently moved and has had little success finding a place to live. She was even told by one landlord that she wasn’t a good candidate because they had a preference for men working in the oil patch.

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