B.C. will lead Canada’s economic pack in 2015, says BMO

Plus, something fishy in mining and spirits at the farmer’s market

B.C’s time to shine—again
For the first time in 10 years, B.C. will lead Canada in economic growth in 2015, according to the BMO Blue Book released Monday by BMO Capital Markets Economics and BMO Commercial Banking. B.C.’s resource base is diverse (natural gas, base metals, forestry and little direct exposure to oil), while exports and manufacturing should benefit from the powerful combination of sturdy U.S. demand and a weaker Canadian dollar. And B.C. real estate just gets hotter. Residential property sales across the province were the highest in more than five years in February, according to BMO. In Metro Vancouver, April sales increased 2.9% over March, a whopping 37% over April 2014 and 29.3% above the 10-year average, according to the Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver. With listings down 19.8% compared to April 2014 and demand strong, the composite benchmark price for all residential properties in Metro Vancouver is up 8.5%—12.5% for detached properties—in the past year.

Spillover effects
Alaska is worried about B.C. mines operating in shared watersheds and the potential effect on salmon, especially since Imperial Metals’ Mount Polley tailings dam spill last summer. More than a dozen aboriginal tribes want a moratorium on the development of large-scale mines along Alaska’s southeast border with B.C., plus an International Joint Commission evaluation of the province’s mining-safety practices. Now Alaskan Lieutenant Governor Byron Mallott is taking the direct approach, visiting B.C. May 4-6 to meet with various provincial ministries in Victoria and to attend the Vancouver Board of Trade’s annual luncheon for BC Mining Week

It’s been a long time coming, but the number of places to buy liquor in B.C. is slowly expanding. On the weekend, Kelowna’s Urban Distilleries was the first producer to take advantage of the Kelowna Farmers’ and Crafters’ Market’s new policy allowing locally produced wine, beer and spirits to be sold. Last month, Surrey’s South Point Save-On-Foods was the province’s first grocery store to sell wine under B.C.’s new liquor laws.