Councillor launches counter effort to keep Dynalife downtown

Against a backdrop of rising vacancy rates, Edmonton’s downtown councillor is struggling to keep a major employer from relocating.

Dynalife, a health diagnostics lab with more than 500 employees, will be part of the new provincial super lab meant to serve the Edmonton region and northern Alberta.

Coun. Scott McKeen is worried that might pull Dynalife out of the Manulife 2 downtown building when Edmonton’s main business district can ill afford more vacancy. He brought that concern to Alberta’s health minister last week and filed notice he wants city staff to outline just what losing 500 employees would mean to the local economy.

Council is expected to vote on his request for a report at the next council meeting.

“If the province is serious about moving 500 employees out of the downtown, the citizens deserve the right to know,” said McKeen, arguing the province needs to be involved in building a concentrated employment hub because it’s good for its capital city.

A concentrated employment hub makes quality transit possible and, when combined with people living in the area, creates vibrancy to support arts, culture and local business.

City officials need to gather the data to make a convincing case on this, said McKeen, “so we can put up a fuss before it happens.”

It’s not the first wave of provincial employees looking at relocation. Last October, commercial landlords raised the alarm after the province decided to pull 390 employees from downtown, mainly out of the Centre West building on Capital Boulevard (108 Street).

Commercial landlords were worried because vacancy rates were already at 13 per cent. Now vacancy rates are at 18 per cent downtown, partly because city employees consolidated into the new Edmonton Tower near Rogers Place.

Potential move a real concern

Mayor Don Iveson said a potential Dynalife move is “a very real concern for us …read more

Source:: Edmonton Journal

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