1947 was the year the first major oil reserve was discovered in the Edmonton region. The site, which became known as Leduc No. 1, was the impetus for a major population spike in the 1950’s. As word traveled that Edmonton was becoming the “Oil Capital of Canada”, many flocked to the region with big dreams and a sleeves-rolled-up mentality.
Don Stanley was one of those entrepreneurs.
Don was certainly not naive to the challenges of starting a business in Alberta. As is true today as it was 60 years ago, Don knew that clients would not magically appear if he simply started a company and put a sign above the door.
To get his business going, Don started a campaign of contacting potential clients by mail and physical visits. It wasn’t long before his hard work and persistence paid off, as he started landing contracts in rural areas. With the same tenancity he had getting his first clients, he parlayed his efforts into larger endeavours and grew from a one man company to a global engineering empire that spans 400 locations with roughly 22,000 employees.
The transformation from D.L. Stanley Associates into Stantec has been prolific, and our city has benefited alongside the impressive growth. Stantec has kept their headquarters in Edmonton since inception, and as an ongoing commitment to this City, they recently announced they would be consolidating their Edmonton workforce under one roof.
The building will be known as Stantec Tower, and it isn’t going to be just any ordinary tower either. At 66 stories with a projected height of 823′, Stantec Tower will be one of the tallest structures in all of western Canada. The first 28 floors will be largely occupied by Stantec, with PwC and Dentons set to move in once it’s completed in 2018. The top 38 floors will be predominantly residential, set to be completed in 2019.
Stantec Tower is the result of two notable events happening nearly simultaneously. First, a tower of this magnitude would not be economically feasible without a tenant to occupy a significant portion of it. It is truly a success story that a local company has grown to such an impressive position that they could fill a high percentage of the tallest building our city has even seen. This ties in neatly with the second point. Edmonton previously had a zoning overlay which restricted the height of buildings for the sake of the municipal airport. It wasn’t until the airport was closed that the overlay could be removed. This tower, if it were to have been built with the airport overlay in effect, would have been restricted to 490′. While it still would have been an addition to our skyline, it certainly would not have the same impact that it will at full height.
It’s strange to think this tower might never have come to be. Stantec could have faltered along the way or even moved their headquarters to a new city. Calgary, a city stricken with office vacancy, would undoubtedly welcome a move with wide open arms. And Calgary is just one example, as many other cities would line up to offer incentives to a company like Stantec and the corresponding amount of jobs and economic activity they would bring.
Despite whatever temptations there may have been to move, Stantec has shown an unwavering devotion to Edmonton, capped off with a long-term commitment to an unprecedented development in the heart of the city.
Indeed, we are all better off as a result.