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From Vision to Reality

Prior to 2019, Summerside has traditionally lagged regarding absorption of available industrial and commercial space with historical vacancy rates hovering anywhere from around 10% or above for the past decade. Summerside experienced typical challenges in the IC market including a mismatch of client needs and commercial offering, economic cycles, and investment capital.

For the past four years, the Office of Economic Development has seen an increased demand for space and a certain urgency to communicate with the commercial marketplace to service this pent-up demand. Fast forward to November 2022 and through challenging work and collaboration, Summerside has been able to achieve a net absorption of over 225,000 sq ft of all types of space combined, which is simply astounding.

Although these low rates can cause struggles for those looking for space or wanting to expand, it can also be motivation for investors to create or repurpose space. Since our vacancy rates started falling 4 years ago, there have been approximately 40,000 sq ft of space that has been created or pivoted in some way. This is wonderful to see, and we continually strive for more to meet our demands.

Recently, there is one building along Greenwood Dr. that has been bought and transformed into meaningful spaces for Summerside businesses. This would be The WEIC, owned by Chris Palmer. He shares some of his thoughts with us here:

“Summerside’s recent growth caught my attention in 2020 and I knew the time was right for investment. In mid-2021, I identified 30 Greenwood Dr as a suitable building and began repurposing the space right away as The West End Industry Corridor (The WEIC). Summerside was in desperate need of additional retail and office space, which made the choice easy. I am very pleased with the transformation so far. Phase 1 renovations were completed in early 2022 and all the available space has been rented. Phase 2 renovations are now in progress and tenants are already approaching me.  Summerside has a bright future and I’m glad I acted when I did.” – Chris Palmer

The time for investment in Summerside is right now. Our demands for space will not let up anytime soon. Anything built or made available recently is taken in a flash, not much different than our residential situation. Speaking of which, stay tuned for the next article.
The Residential Side of the Investment Continuum
Around the same time that business vacancies began shrinking, residential vacancies did as well. In 2019, there was an explosion in our residential building permits, and it has stayed that way. For context, a typical grand total for yearly building permits (residential, commercial, industrial, institutional) used to be about $20M. In 2019, residential alone was $25M. In the following years, residential permit values were:

— 2020: $28M
— 2021: $41M
— 2022: $30M (up to Oct. 31)

There has been an extraordinarily strong response to residential needs, but we still require more. Summerside has become popular amongst interprovincial immigrants, international immigrants, business owners, and job seekers. This kind of growth requires housing, both for ownership and rental.

Let’s compare a key metric for each of these from 2015 to today, starting with ownership. In 2015, the Months of Inventory stat was 15.4. That is, at that time, it would have taken that many months for all active units to sell provided nothing new was listed in the meantime. At the end of 2021, that stat was 2.1 months. Not just that, but there were 10% more units sold in 2021 compared to 2015. In other words, residential units are selling much more quickly compared to 7 years ago.

For rentals in 2015, Summerside’s vacancy rate was 4.9%, which is a balanced number. Since then, that has eroded, going below 1% in 2018 and staying there since. This extraordinarily low rate has been a major roadblock to Summerside welcoming new residents and businesses. However, this roadblock is an opportunity for developers – one that is begging to be reaped.

There is a stark difference between 2018 and 2019. The latter is when our residential permits took off and we did not look back. Since then, we have been consistently over 100 units. The fact that our vacancy is still low after so much investment is something of a paradox, but they are simply strongly in demand.

Summerside has entered a new age, one where subdivisions sell out in a year or two. Growing a city is a challenge and presents a prime setting for investors of all kinds. Contact us to discuss your plans!

Responding to Summerside’s Business Needs
Because of all the changes and activity within Summerside that you just read about, we have recently launched a new website to better serve our clients as well as a Business Retention & Expansion survey to capture the perceptions, successes, and challenges of our business partners.

Bigpossibilities just got Bigger!

Six years ago, to this day, Summerside EDO published a brand-new website that exclusively served our department. This website is and it has become a key communications tool. All the announcements, news, press releases, data tools, relevant information, available spaces, and much more found a home on this dedicated website.

At that time, we recognized that business professionals would be better served by a website dedicated to them rather than having to dig through the corners of the City’s general website. The information they need to be successful in Summerside was placed at their fingertips and that arrangement turned out to be most fruitful.

Today, we are pleased to announce that we have revamped and it is better than ever. Since 2016, we have been observing what parts of the site work best, which parts not so much, and how it all should be arranged. We have designed a site that reflects our greatest traits, our forward-looking infrastructure, our business advantages, and our achievements. Better still, we have presented it all in a way that is easy and intuitive to navigate, all wrapped in a sleek and modern design.

Everything you need is now easily found. From top to bottom, is overflowing with information, anecdotes, news, and data. We are helping ourselves help our clientele see why Summerside is the ideal choice for business decision-makers looking to relocate, start up, or expand. You can think of it as a one-stop-shop for doing business in Summerside. There are also dozens of links wherever relevant, either to our own materials or external partners.

Entrepreneurs and businesspeople can help themselves with what we have laid out and, as always, can contact us to learn more.
Visit now!


City of Summerside Launches Business Priorities Survey

We have officially launched our third Triage Business Retention & Expansion (BR+E) Survey. The original survey took place during November 2018 and the second in February 2020, just before the onset of the global pandemic. Now, almost three years later, we wish to conduct the survey once more to see how businesses have coped with the past few years and how challenges differ from the previous survey.

In general terms, we wish to better understand the plans and needs of local businesses and how business owners and managers view the community as a place to do business. The information from the survey will be used to plan future activities focused on the top priorities of local businesses.

We have retained the Economic and Policy Advisory of Deloitte LLP, a respected consulting firm, to assist with the project. Deloitte will be working with us to review the completed surveys regarding challenges and opportunities that the local business community is facing. Businesses are encouraged to participate in the web and telephone survey which will take place from November 21 to December 16 and should take no longer than 15 minutes to complete. If Deloitte happens to contact you, it would be much appreciated if you could devote a small part of your day to helping us.

There have been many changes in the past couple of years. Vacancy rates, both residential and commercial, have shrunk, Summerside’s business count is higher than ever, building permit values have skyrocketed, and we doubled the number of international immigrants between 2016 and 2021. Indeed, Summerside has changed drastically, and on top of that, we had COVID to deal with (and still are). It will be interesting to see how these things will impact the responses.

In summary, ensuring that our local business community is effectively served by the City’s lead economic development agency is the primary purpose of our mandate and, through this survey, we hope to gather and learn what opportunities and challenges our businesses are facing. Let Round 3 of Triage BR+E begin!

Summerside Quick Facts

If interested in learning more about investment opportunities, economic development support or opportunities for growth, please call our Economic Development Professionals.
We would love to chat.

Alternatively, you can email us at
It could be 
the most profitable email you have ever sent.

Michael Thususka
Director of Economic Development City of Summerside
275 Fitzroy Street, Summerside PE C1N 1H9
M: 902.432.0103, E:

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