Corporate Vancouver still lags behind Toronto and Calgary

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Plus, B.C. and Alaska agree to protect rivers and Mayors vie for federal infrastructure cash

Lightweight Vancouver
Metro Vancouver may be building a reputation for producing feisty start-ups, but it still ranks poorly against heavyweights like Toronto and Calgary, according to a recent report by the BC Business Council. Using data from a Statistics Canada survey on head offices across the country, the council reported that “Metro Vancouver has room for improvement if the region wants to ‘punch at its weight’ compared to other major cities across Canada.”
 
In 2013, the year of the survey, British Columbia was home to approximately 12 per cent of the 2,773 head offices in Canada, a number roughly in line with its share of the national population. Alberta hosted 15 per cent while Ontario boasted 40 per cent. However, Metro Vancouver lagged behind in head office employment, with only seven per cent of national head office jobs.
 
“These findings affirm that British Columbia is predominantly a province of small businesses,” the report stated. “The entrepreneurship, innovation and local economic impact that small businesses bring are beneficial to regions and local communities. However, the corporate offices of more substantial companies form the foundation of the ‘corporate ecosystem’ that underpins most successful large cities and have a positive impact on the employment and income base of their host city-regions.”
 
The report noted several factors that work against Metro Vancouver’s ability to attract head offices, including: a fragmented regional governance structure; a complex tax structure, a cumbersome immigration system; a reputation as a high-cost jurisdiction; and a high cost of living. The report also pointed to two local initiatives, HQ Vancouver and the Vancouver International Maritime Centre, that have scored “early wins” in securing new corporate offices.

Plenty of fish
Officials in British Columbia and Alaska are working towards an agreement to preserve water quality and fisheries in the rivers that cross the boundary between them.
 
Lt. Gov. Byron Mallott recently sent the second draft of a Statement of Cooperation to the B.C Ministry of the Environment, and Ministry of Energy and Mines. Although the agreement is legally non-binding, it will work to ensure protection of the waters of the Stikine, Taku, Unuk and Alsek rivers.
 
“So long as there is a permit process underway in B.C. that could affect the water quality or the environmental integrity of any of the river systems covered by the Boundary Waters Treaty, the State of Alaska has an obligation to be fully engaged with B.C. to protect our interests,” Mallott told Alaska Public Media. “And that is the bottom line.”

Transit vs. roads
In the competition for the federal Liberals’ promised cash for infrastructure, the mayors of Vancouver and Surrey will be promoting their pet transit projects. Vancouver wants an east-west subway along the congested Broadway corridor, and Surrey wants a light rapid transit system. But according to one columnist, the mayors will have to talk over the pitch of the provincial Liberals, whose preference is for the new 10-lane bridge over the Fraser River, to replace the George Massey Tunnel.
 
“But an endeavour that will mostly serve to accommodate more vehicles on the road runs contrary to the unwritten mission statement of the federal government’s infrastructure program,” wrote Gary Mason in the Globe and Mail. “Green is good.”



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