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ANALYSIS: Prince George Growth Slowing; Construction Slipping

The Conference Board of Canada released a new report this week, looking at the economic prospects of several Canadian mid-sized cities. This included Prince George, B.C.

Basically, they foresee very, very moderate growth for B.C.’s Capital of the North: 1.5% this year, 1.7% in 2018. That’s down from a 1.8% growth rate in 2016.

It also predicts 5% employment growth for PG this year, which will help after the city saw an 8.2% loss in 2015. Still, the unemployment rate will hit a seven-year high of 6.9%, before edging back down to 6.4% in 2018.

“Construction output will contract in 2017 following exceptional gains over the last five years,” the report says. This is mainly because housing starts will cool – 245 this year, 213 in 2018; way down from the 313 started in 2016.

“On the non-residential side, work continues on $440 million in Highway 97 improvements, including the widening of the Cariboo Connector to four lanes. Composed of 27 projects that started in 2007, the entire venture is expected to wrap up at the end of 2018,” the report says. “Meanwhile, construction on the new $44.3-million Kelly Road secondary school is anticipated to begin this fall, with completion slated between 2018 and 2019. The construction of the proposed beef processing plant also provides upside risk to the metro area’s non-residential investment outlook.”

Two other notes: here’s a year-by-year look at the GDP of three mid-sized B.C. cities. Note how Prince George lags Nanaimo and Chilliwack.

And, given the awful news this week that the Pacific NorthWest LNG project has been scrapped, this paragraph is especially rough:

“Some Good News for B.C.’s Important LNG Industry – Recent federal approval and local First Nations support of Pacific NorthWest LNG’s proposal to construct a plant on the northern B.C. coast is welcome news for the struggling mining and mineral fuels sector… This agreement is a welcome boost for an industry that has been hurt by lower global demand, increased competition from the U.S., and weak commodity prices.”

Sigh.

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