B.C. economy rebound forecast

A lower Canadian dollar and a slow recovery in the U.S. and around the world bode well for the B.C. economy

Rick Parcher worked on gas drilling rigs in northern B.C. and Alberta for 15 years before returning to B.C. last fall to carry on a family tradition as a charge hand at Alternative Forest Operations in Chemainus.

A lower Canadian dollar and a slow recovery in the U.S. and around the world bode well for the B.C. economy in the next two years, a new report from the Business Council of B.C. says.

“The U.S. economy is gaining ground, the Eurozone is out of recession, and Asia, particularly China, continues to expand at a robust clip,” said executive vice president Jock Finlayson as he released the BCBC economic outlook report Tuesday. “The weakening of the Canadian dollar relative to the U.S. dollar will also help lift B.C.’s export of goods and services to the U.S., prompt more U.S. travellers to come to B.C., and serve as a headwind to cross-border shopping.”

The report forecasts improvement in U.S. demand for lumber and other building materials, wood pulp and even natural gas, which has fallen to historic lows with a surge of shale gas production around North America.

Recovery of the struggling B.C. coastal forest industry was echoed at last week’s Truck Loggers’ Association convention.

“I’ve got a desk covered with resumes of people who work in the oil patch,” said Don Banasky, operations manager at CopCan Contracting Ltd. and FallTech Logging in Nanaimo and vice-president of the TLA.

Banasky said there are openings for road building, driller-blaster, grader and excavator operators in his operations, and some employees at remote oil and gas developments are anxious to work closer to home.

The BCBC report holds out hope for a B.C. government that has seen its much-advertised jobs plan fizzle in the past two years.

“Following essentially no net employment growth in 2013, we see the B.C. job market recovering in the coming year,” the report says. “Growing exports, higher non-residential construction outlays and some increase in consumer spending will translate into greater demand for working and more hiring by B.C. businesses.”

The report forecasts that two liquefied natural gas processing plants and pipelines to supply them will begin in 2015.


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