Office Market Report / Second Quarter 2021

Edmonton, AB

Q2 2021 marks the first quarter since the pandemic began where the optimism we have seen is starting to manifest itself into tangible signs. Office touring activity and general inquiries have increased; each day more cars and bikes can be found in downtown parkades; and overall, people are starting to slowly return to their office spaces. The vacancy rates we analyze in this report are relatively high compared to what was trending in Q4 2019. However, we expect those rates to course-correct over the next several quarters. Additionally, we have seen from our US counterparts what a return to the downtown core looks like and the impact it has on the vibrancy and economy of the city. While it will still take some time for everyone to find their footing in the changing environment, we are confident that Edmonton will see even more substantial recovery in the near term.

Overall average vacancy rate by building class

Overall average vacancy rate by building class

Where is the majority of vacant downtown space?

+ Click on the map below to see the top 15 buildings with the largest total vacancy


Financial A class buildings make up 46.1% of all downtown vacant space


Government A class buildings make up 18.8% of all downtown vacant space

Top 5 largest contiguous vacant spaces

Stantec Tower: 122,060 sf Highfield Place: 108,853 sf Scotia Place: 91,686 sf Intact Building: 84,594 sf Boardwalk/Revillon Building: 55,820 sf

Breaking down the space amongst the top 15

Top 15 lease types

84.9% headlease space; 15.1% sublease space

Financial district vacancy

Financial A class makes up 51.3% of total vacant space amongst the top 15

Financial AAA class space has the majority of sublease space, making up 9.3% of total vacant space amongst the top 15

Top 15 total space available

71.7% located in Financial district; 28.3% located in Government district

Based on trends observed by our US counterparts, who are largely ahead of Canada when it comes to implementing return to office (RTO) strategies, here are some aspects that are likely to be seen in Edmonton

  • Financial and Professional service firms have been the first ones to return i. Bank supports, real estate, legal services – tend to be the quickest to return ii. The firms that greatly benefit from collaboration, mentorship, and so on seem to be the most keen to return to a physical office space
  • The larger the company, the longer their return to the office plans tend to be i. Firms with larger employee pools and office space footprints have to be more mindful of accommodating everyone in order to safely make their return ii. Smaller firms have more flexibility in finalizing their RTO strategy, and some are taking this time to upgrade from their former spaces to new ones
  • Remote working hybrid models will have a lasting impact on office-based businesses; however, we don’t expect to see the majority of work forces following a permanent work from home model i. As prominent as it has been, realistically, we can expect many firms to provide employees the option to work a number of days at home, but still with an expectation to be in the office to foster collaboration
  • Not all tech-related jobs will go fully remote i. Many of the more tech-savvy firms already knew how to be productive remotely prior to the pandemic and still had physical office space, so while there is likely to be a slight increase in remote-working or hybrid work models, we don’t expect many tech-related firms to be giving up their office spaces
  • Some groups never really left, particularly those in the Life Sciences, R&D, and other specialized areas

No single way of working was disrupted more or for longer by the COVID-19 pandemic than knowledge work—what until recently was often called “office” work. Explore trends about knowledge work that will shape its future in The Multiverse of Work:

How are companies returning to the office?

While it is important to keep in mind that the US systems do differ from those found in Canada and RTO strategies will vary from company to company, we can expect many of the sentiments discussed here to be seen in Edmonton as well. For additional context, we can look at how some of the major corporations are handling RTO strategies in this graphic. It is interesting to note that there are some groups in the same sector that are taking vastly different approaches, favouring either an office centric or remote centric RTO.

Click on the logos in the chart for company insight & articles

Edmonton Office Market Historic Vacancy

Edmonton Office Market Historic Vacancy

About the Market

The Edmonton office market experienced a slow, yet stable second quarter of 2021. The data shows overall vacancy trending upward, however with an overall increase of just 0.3% this quarter and the decrease of 1.0% in Q1, there is reason to be optimistic for future quarters as we aren’t seeing significant quarterly fluctuations in vacancy. While there were only a small number of significant transactions that took place during the quarter, it was clear that the lifting of most COVID-19 restrictions started to bring activity and life back to the city, at least in terms of the increased number of space inquiries and touring activity. With the news that government agencies and numerous private businesses are targeting a return to their offices in early-mid September, the third and fourth quarters of 2021 are likely to see a further increase in activity, even if it’s primarily on an inquiry basis, thereby priming 2022 to be a much more active year.

Edmonton Office Market Statistics


Overall vacancy rate


Downtown vacancy rate


Suburban vacancy rate

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