How B.C.’s non-winter impacted these 6 industries

Sure, it was an omen of climate change, but our unseasonably warm winter was a welcome treat for many British Columbians (diehard skiers aside). For industry, however, the blessings are mixed. Depending on your sector, a mild winter can be a gift from the global warming gods, hell on profit–or like the weather itself, dashed with uncertainty

Blueberries: A mild winter can be good or bad news for blueberries. The major Fraser Valley crop began budding early this year (February instead of March), which briefly had farmers worrying that a cold snap could kill an otherwise early start.

Wineries: As with blueberries, an early spring can help or hurt wine grapes. Overall, however, a warming world will likely benefit Okanagan wine country (and endanger more southern wine regions like California). Already, some B.C. wineries have begun growing more red wine grapes, which prefer warmer climates.

Natural Gas: According to FortisBC, we can expect lower gas bills this year. The reason? A mild winter resulted in lower demand for natural gas and “significant increases in overall gas supply.” The commodity rate is the lowest it’s been in 10 years.

B.C.’s biggest companies
1. Telus Corp.
2. Teck Resources Ltd.
3. Jim Pattison Group

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Ski Resorts: Ski visits were down at Whistler Blackcomb this winter (by 9.3 per cent) as were profits, but Whistler didn’t see the worst of it. Lower-elevation hills on Vancouver’s North Shore (Grouse, Cypress and Seymour) had shortened seasons, as did Mount Washington on Vancouver Island, while Hemlock, a ski resort north of Chilliwack, stayed shut the whole season.

Restaurants: Patio season came early this year, which isn’t just awesome news for beer drinkers. Some restaurants and bars opened patios as early as February, adding capacity and a boost to business. By one estimate, restaurants with open patios attract about 30 per cent more customers.

Forestry: Warmer weather meant more pine beetles survived, which is bad news for B.C.’s forestry industry as the insect damages the integrity—and saleability—of pine. To date, pine beetles have destroyed roughly half of the province’s commercial lodgepole pine.