Allied Properties REIT Chief Executive Officer Michael Emory says that Calgary’s growing technology sector may be what pulls the city out of an economic downturn, not energy.

“The tech sector is growing in the city of Calgary […] and it is a signal to the market that tech might be what helps Calgary emerge from this downturn, because I don’t think the energy sector can do it,” Emory said in a television interview with BNN Bloomberg Thursday.

Emory added that the western city should be placing a greater focus on supporting their tech sector instead of focusing their attention mainly on the oil and gas industry.

“The government in Calgary is not incenting those areas of strength to the extent they should. They recently abandoned a policy that was designed to support the influx of tech users to the Alberta province and that I think was a short-term gain that will have a long-term negative consequence.”

Last summer, Alberta Premier Jason Kenney’s government announced it would phase out the previous NDP government’s Alberta Investor Tax Credit, a program created to help encourage investment in small businesses. The program had offered a 30-per-cent tax credit to investors who provided capital to businesses focused in research, development or commercialization of new technology, products or processes.

“I think the overriding mandate of the Conservative government in Alberta was to reduce the deficit and to balance the books better than the previous government had, and that’s, in my opinion, the right objective. I think, however, not supporting the influx of the tech sector into your province and your major cities is a mistake,” Emory said. 

“Quebec has done this extraordinarily well for decades now, part of the resurgence we are seeing in Montreal is because the provincial government in Quebec and to some extent the municipal governments in Quebec City and Montreal have actively encouraged the influx of tech users to space in those cities with different types of subsidies.”

Emory said Allied Properties REIT has found opportunity in Calgary for real estate development with the growing number of tech companies, pointing to this demand as a strong indicator for how big the sector could become.

“There is a lot of vacancy and there is an awful lot of commoditized office space in Calgary. …They accommodate the tech advertising media and information tenants, and they under our management have held up very well in this downturn.”