B.C. economy to grow 3.6 per cent in 2016

Plus, new leadership at B.C.’s second biggest miner and what British Columbians think of the Kinder Morgan review process

Firing on all cylinders
B.C.’s economy will grow faster than that of any other province over the next two years, according to a forecast from the Conference Board of Canada. The province’s economy is expected to grow 3.6 per cent in 2016, up from 3.1 per cent this year, thanks in part to spending related to Petronas’s $36-billion Pacific Northwest LNG project, whose construction start the board views as a foregone conclusion. “The bright outlook for the province is largely thanks to the construction industry. A major investment in a LNG project could get underway if all conditions are met,” said Marie-Christine Bernard, an associate director at the Conference Board, in a statement. “This would be a game changer for the province, providing a considerable boost to the economy.”

The report also expects one of the current engines of the provincial economy—real estate—to continue to fire on all cylinders. “Vancouver’s real estate market continues to soar as local and foreign buyers fuel price hikes and transactions in the single-detached home segment,” states the report. And the hot housing market is boosting finance, insurance and real estate, which are all expected to grow by 6 per cent this year and 3.3 per cent in 2016, even boosting the sale of appliances and garden equipment to 6.6 per cent for 2015.

All that glitters
Chuck Jeannes, CEO of Goldcorp, announced Thursday that he will step down next April. The Vancouver-based miner is the second biggest mining company by revenue in B.C., with gold and copper properties in Quebec, Ontario and Latin America. Jeannes, a Nevada-born lawyer by training, has been the company’s CEO since 2009 and helped steered two mines into production, according to a statement from the company, as the company faced a steep downturn in commodity prices. On Monday, stock was trading at $16.40. His replacement, David Garofalo—currently president and CEO of Toronto-based miner Hudbay Minerals Inc.—will start next April.

Opinions in the pipeline
Two in three B.C. residents are in favour of halting the assessment of Kinder Morgan’s proposed pipeline and terminal expansion as the Trudeau government takes over the file. Sixty-eight per cent of respondents in a poll conducted by Justafson Research said the the pipeline assessment should be halted until the federal government has undertaken a promised review of the environmental assessment process and of the National Energy Board. And those calling for a halt have strong views: 42 per cent of respondents “strongly” agreed compared to 10 per cent of respondents who “strongly” disagreed. The poll also found that around four in 10 B.C. residents were unaware that the federal government had made an election promise to review the pipeline approval process. The poll was sponsored by the Georgia Strait Alliance, which has called for a tanker ban.