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At least 45 new businesses opened in Wetaskiwin in 2023, says the city

At least 45 new businesses opened in Wetaskiwin in 2023, says the city
According to economic development manager Vern May, as many as 45 new businesses were opened in the city in 2023. Photo by Qiam Noori

The City of Wetaskiwin presented its economic development recap for 2023 on Feb. 2 to the Leduc, Nisku and Wetaskiwin Regional Chamber of Commerce.

According to a presentation at the February chamber luncheon by the city’s economic development manager, Vern May, as many as 45 new businesses were opened in the city in 2023.

According to May, a local business was also purchased by an entrepreneur the previous year, and it is now expanding.

“Overall, the economic situation is a positive story to tell. We’ve got an aggressive amount of interest from outside investors coming into the community – both across Canada and internationally,” May said.

May said at least 120 jobs were created in 2023.

In the meantime, May adds that Alberta’s Rural Renewal Stream program allows employers to hire from anywhere in the world.

The event has also attracted some potential investors from other parts of the country.

Nakul Sood, a real estate investor from Ontario, is exploring his options to invest in the city.

Sood says they are capable of investments ranging from $200,000 all the way up to $1.5 million if their needs are satisfied in Wetaskiwin.

“If the city is open to offer what we need, then we are open to invest as long as we see there’s a potential for return,” Sood said.

Sood hasn’t decided where he might invest, but he’s optimistic about the future of the city.

The city said they’ve issued 52 development and 76 building permits in 2023 worth close to $30 million.

There are currently 837 active business licenses in the city, according to the city’s data.

But security is still a major issue for businesses.

Arfan Bhatti, a Wetaskiwin-based business owner, says homeless people’s shoplifting has disappointed him.

“We have a shoplifting issue. The homeless people are stealing from shops,” Bhatti said.

“They behave like it’s their right to steal. Security is the major issue.”

Bhatti feels high property taxes in Wetaskiwin is another issue that jeopardizes investors coming to the city.

Batthi says they’ve shared these concerns with the city, but a solution has yet to be offered.

In response to high property tax rates, May says that the tax burden can be alleviated through industrial development.

“The way to deal with high taxes is to encourage development,” he said.

“The more diverse your economy, the more option to ease the tax burden. And it’s not going to be housing development, it has to be done via industrial growth,” May noted.

Wetaskiwin has seen a reported $400,000 increase in revenue stemming from tourism.

At the event, the city said that they’d tracked 65,000 visitors in 2023.

Qiam Noori

About the Author: Qiam Noori

I am a reporter for Black Press Media based in central Alberta.
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