Beautiful British Columbia
British Columbia Ad Campaign
B.C. has Record Breaking Oil and Gas Revenues
B.C.'s O&E 1.2 billion revenues are up from 436 million four years ago and out pace all stumpage fees ($425 million) and all corporate income tax ($498 million). (JREI predicts that "you ain’t seen anything yet, baby" as the world looks for more and more places with guaranteed peaceful supply.)
B.C. Leads Canada in Job Growth
B.C. created another 1,200 new jobs in July, bringing the total number of jobs created since December 2001 to 169,000. Since December 2001 employment in B.C. has increased 8.7% – the strongest gain in Canada, and well ahead of the national average of 6.3% over the same period. (Statistics Canada, Aug. 06, 2004)
B.C. Exports Gaining Strength
B.C. exports jumped almost 24% in June compared to June 2003. Year-to-date, exports are up 6.7%, on par with the national increase for the first half of 2004. Much of the export growth so far this year is due to the 17% gain in forestry product exports. (Stats Can, BC Stats August 13, 2004)
Record Building Permits Strongest in Canada
The value of building permits issued in B.C. in the first half of 2004 totaled a record $4.15 billion, an increase of 41.4% over the same period in 2003 – the strongest increase in Canada and more than four times the national average of 9.4% growth. (Statistics Canada, August 9, 2004)
B.C. Forecast to Lead in Housing Start Growth
B.C. will have the strongest increase in housing starts in Canada during 2004, according to a new CMHC forecast. CMHC expects new housing starts in B.C. to increase 21.1% this year, which is the strongest in the country. B.C. is also forecast to be the only province where housing starts will continue to increase in 2005. (CMHC, Aug. 04, 2004)
B.C. Ports Expanding
A state-of-the-art port expansion worth $500 million will be built in Prince Rupert over the next five years and operated by New Jersey-based Maher Terminals Inc. The provincial government has committed more than $17 million to the project. Meanwhile, shipments at the Port of Vancouver were up 16% in the first half of this year from the same period in 2003. The Port of Vancouver is planning a $1 billion expansion of its Delta port terminal starting in 2006. (Port of Vancouver, July 2004)
B.C. University Enrolment Highest in Canada
B.C. had the highest increase in university enrolment from 2000/01 to 2001/02 – up 7% vs. the national average of 4.3%. Full-time enrolment in BC jumped 11.1%, again the highest in Canada and more than double the national rise of 4.7%. (Statistics Canada, July 30, 2004)
Retail Sales Second Strongest in Canada in May - June - July
Retail sales in B.C. grew as the second highest rate in the country in May/June/July. In May B.C.’s 7.4% increase was well ahead of the 4.6% national average. In July BC’s 8.2% increase outpaced Ontario’s .09%, Quebec’s 4.4% and Saskatchewan’s 5.5% handily. Only Alberta outpaced BC in July at 9.2%. (Statistics Canada)
British Columbians Pay Less in Personal Taxes
Personal taxes made up 18.1% of household spending for British Columbians in 2002 – well below the national average of 20% and lower than in Alberta and Ontario. (BC Stats, July 23, 2004)
B.C. Economy Outpacing Forecast
As JREI mentioned at every outlook conference, all forecasts for BC erred on the downside for the last 4 years! Now the continued strong recovery of B.C.’s business investments and exports may result in the province’s economy outpacing current forecasts for 2004, according to the Business Council of B.C. The Council points to the fact that spending on non-residential buildings was at its highest level in six years and B.C.’s international exports were at their highest monthly levels since 2001 as evidence of B.C.’s growing strength. (Business Council of B.C., “B.C. Economic Snapshot” July 2004)
Forecast Shows B.C. to Lead Canada in 2005
B.C. will have the highest economic performance among the ten provinces in 2005, according to TD’s Regional Economic Outlook report. Growth of 4.1% is forecast for B.C., with a national average of 3.5%. (TD Economics, “Regional Economic Outlook,” July 22, 2004)
B.C.’s Economy to Continue Outpacing National Growth
B.C.’s economy is gearing up according to the Canada West Foundation. The foundation’s report cites rebounding exports and solid employment growth over the past year; as well as increased business and labour confidence. Canada West forecasts continued economic growth for B.C. in 2004 and 2005, with growth rates above the national average. (Canada West Foundation, “Out of the Ashes: B.C.’s Economy in 2004,” July 2004)
Record-Breaking Home Sales Continue
B.C.’s record setting home sales continued in June, contributing to a 34% increase in the value of homes sold in the first half of 2004 compared to the same period last year. The number of properties sold across the province is up 17.5% for the first half of the year. (BC Real Estate Association, July 16, 2004)
Non-Residential Construction Investment Strong
Investment in non-residential building construction was up 3.7% in the second quarter of 2004 compared with first quarter - the second-largest increase of all provinces and more than 7 times the national increase of 0.5%. (Statistics Canada, July 12, 2004)
B.C. Housing Starts Remain Strong
Housing starts across BC in the first half of the year were up 46.5% over the same period last year. According to CMHC’s second quarter Housing Outlook report, B.C. is expected to have the highest percentage growth in housing starts in Canada this year. (CMHC, May 10 & July 09, 2004)
B.C. Leads Country in Wage Rate
B.C. has the highest percentage of people earning $16 or more an hour in Canada. Nearly one million, or 57.2%, of employees in B.C. earn $16 or more per hour - the amount Statistics Canada says will support a family of four in an urban centre. In addition, since 2001 B.C. has had the largest percentage increase in jobs in Canada. (Ministry of Skills Development and Labour, July 6, 2004)
B.C. Businesses Most Optimistic in Canada
B.C.'s small and mid-sized enterprises lead the country in optimism, according to CFIB’s latest quarterly survey. B.C. is ahead of the national index for the third quarter in a row - 118.2 points vs. 106.4 nationally - and its highest level since CFIB began regular quarterly reporting of business expectations. (Canadian Federation of Independent Business, June 2004)
Final Major Point
We haven’t mentioned: A generally older and wealthier population (who will leave its wealth to the upcoming one). Or large foreign investment in real estate, largest portion of inward foreign migration, a shift from east to west inter-provincial migration, Olympic construction (1 billion plus) starting next year, the fact that we have water a 'plenty, or dare I say offshore exploration … and the mountains, the oceans, the view.
In the north, sawmills have been granted an extraordinary 27% increase in the allowable timber cut – to 27 million cubic metres – to salvage Lodgepole pine trees infected with the mountain pine beetle. Pine is widely used in 2x4 construction lumber. The increase will salvage infested trees that can lose their commercial value within five years of being infected. In other words, cut 'em or lose 'em. Short term, it means a boom to sawmills in Prince George, Houston (largest sawmill in the world), Williams Lake and Quesnel. The resulting inventory, however, could drive lumber prices lower and, eventually, will lead to a shortage of timber across the north where the beetle threatens 80% of marketable Lodgepole pine.
After years of decline, mining is back in B.C., from natural gas and oil exploration to copper and gold mines.
B.C. is already the second largest producer of natural gas in Canada after Alberta. Gas from the province’s northeastern corner has been a driving force in the economy over the past few years, and a change to the tax structure has now extended the drilling season into the summer. This year spending on natural gas exploration will be worth $2.6 billion, a third higher than just two years ago.
An example of what has happened is in Fort St. John and a dot on the map called Helmet. Despite a recent boom in natural gas drilling – last year Encana bid $369 million for rights to Cutback Ridge near town – Fort St. John has had little new home construction with less than 70 new starts a year even now. The result is a house that sold for $155,000 in 2002 now goes for more than $170,000. New houses are in the $260,000 range, double-wide trailers fetch $120,000 and two bedroom basement suites rent for $900. In Helmet, eight hours north on bad roads, an estimated 10,000 workers live in trailers and campers.
But with the summer drilling schedule – rigs are hauled out onto the soft ground and set up on giant mats – the northeast is turning into a year-round employment centre for estimated 45,000 workers.
Fort St. John, population 8,000, has the biggest Safeway in the province, a Wal-Mart and an OSB plant that will open in 2005.
Yet, notes Dorothy Friesen, executive officer of the Northern B.C. Real Estate Board, house prices in most communities are still at 1994 levels. (A 1,700 sq.foot townhouse that sold for $70,000 in 1994, still goes for around $55,000 in Prince George.)
Metal mining of gold, copper, lead, silver, zinc and molybdenum once mainstay of the province’s natural resource, are in better shape than it has been for years due to commodity price inflation, provincial tax breaks and a reduction in regulations.
Towns to watch include MacKenzie, where a new gold and copper mine could be announced as early as this October. The average house price in MacKenzie is $86,830 (up from $73,000 in mid-2003). Only 25 properties sold in the first six months of this year and there are about 43 on the market. As well, the Gibraltar mine near Williams Lake is expected to fire up this year. Note: the average mining wage is around $93,000.
Even coal has come back, thanks to increased sales to Asia. Three coal mines will start construction this December, the Dillon Mine near Chetwynd, by Western Canadian, is expected to start up this winter (Chetywnd average house price $97,000), a new operations at nearby Willow Creek and one near Tumbler Ridge. In Tumbler Ridge, where Northern Energy & Mining Inc. is starting a 250,000 tonne-per-annum coal operation, you can buy residential building lots from the city from $4,000 and, while the $25,000 condos of a few years are gone, you can still find many condos under $50,000 and houses for under $90,000. Coal exploration is also growing, with nearly 100,000 hectares in new coal licenses applied for over the last year, most in the north, according to Richard Neufeld, B.C. Minister of Energy and Mines (who once worked as a truck driver in the northern gas fields).
As well, BC’s vast reserves of offshore oil and natural gas – which are so far undeveloped – could eventually vault the province into a major energy producer on the continent. Which may explain why there is sudden interest in the Queen Charlotte Islands.
But you don’t have to head north to share in the B.C. recovery. Tourism has also roared ahead this year – hotel room revenues are up 5.8% in the first half of this year, from 2003, to $390 million. Total international visitors are up 6.2% in the same period.
And there is a rush of new ski resorts opening up or expanding across the province, especially in the Kootenays. One town to watch is Invermere, where Glacier Resorts Ltd. proposes a year round ski resort in Jumbo Creek valley, 55 km west of town. The $450 million Jumbo Glacier Resort project – 10 years in the planning – would include a 210-acre resort including a chalet area of low density residential lots and lift-serviced access to several nearby glaciers at an elevation of up to 3,400 metres. Up to 5,500 hotel suites and condos are planned.
By comparison, the existing Panorama Mountain Village has approximately 7,084 units. At full build-out the proposed Jumbo resort would create 750 to 800 jobs full time jobs. There is opposition in Invermere and the Kootenays to the project, but it could receive provincial government approval as early as October 18. Prices in Invermere – four season resort with a large lake close to Calgary – are high. Typical 2-bedroom condos are in the $229,000 range, but there is the odd older house under $200,000 and lots in the new Pine Ridge estate subdivision start at $35,900.
Ski facilities are also expanding at Fernie and Kimberley in the Kootenays. One that looks promising is Mount MacKenzie at Revelstoke, where Mt. MacKenzie Resorts Ltd. is developing Powder Springs into a $270 million all-season resort.
In the Okanagan, U.S.-based Winter Recreation, ULC has purchased the Mount Baldy Ski Area near Osoyoos. Plans include increasing ski terrain by about 600 acres and extending lift capacity from 1,460 vertical feet to over 2,000 vertical feet. Osoyoos is already an all-season resort area within a four-hour drive from Greater Vancouver. (See the May 2004 Jurock Insider for a full report on emerging ski resorts. Also note the resort update in this issue.)
All of the good economic news is finally reaching the typical British Columbian, raising the confidence of consumer, which is perhaps the key aspect of any recovery.
A new Ipsos-Reid poll shows that for the first time in seven years, a majority (58%) of British Columbians describe the overall state of the B.C. economy as "good" or "very good". This is a significant improvement from the 36% of British Columbians who described the provincial economy as "good" or "very good" in Ipsos-Reid's last economic poll taken in October of 2003. Public perceptions of the B.C. economy had ranged from the low 20% range to 35% since 1998.
British Columbia’s recovery is based on more than 'feeling good' about the Olympics. It is deep, it is real and broad and affects every corner of the province.
As a newly arrived immigrant why would you pick Vancouver as the best place to settle in?
Here are several reasons:-
Welcome to Beautiful British Columbia!
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