B.C. leads the country in retail spending

B.C. stood out in the west with a 6 per cent increase in sales. In Saskatchewan sales fell 3.7 per cent, and in Alberta 5.6 per cent.

Plus, apple growers vote on the fate of the Ambrosia and Dianne Watts’s new gig

Shop till you drop
Retail spending increased 6 per cent in British Columbia between September 2014 and 2015 as B.C. shoppers spent a total of $5.9 billion in the month of September alone. B.C. led the provinces over the past year and was one of the few to post an increase in retail sales between August and September, albeit a small 0.2 per cent. That’s the opposite of Alberta, which saw a 5.6 per cent drop in retail spending during the same period thanks in large part to the crash in the price of oil. Across the country, spending growth was concentrated in specific types of shops and services over the past year. Sales at shoe stores increased 9.3 per cent, at furniture stores 6.4 per cent and a whopping 25 per cent at used car dealers. The only sector to take a real hit were gas stations, where sales fell 14.6 per cent thanks to the high price of gas.

One smart apple
Apple growers in the Okanagan vote this week on whether to renew or abandon a fee charged to consumers that pays for R&D and marketing for the Ambrosia apple. Growers vote every five years, in 2006, 2011 and now 2016, whether to renew the fee—which funds tree fruit research that has helped turn B.C. into a powerhouse apple exporter. Funds raised over the past decade have helped turn the Ambrosia, first discovered in a Similkameen Valley orchard in the 1990s, into a B.C. success story. Now supporters of the fee say it’s needed to expand the market for the Okanagan variety global. In the words of one grower: “It costs quite a bit of money to do that.” (Kelowna Daily Courier)

Into the shadows
It may not have been the job she campaigned for, but Dianne Watts has landed a high-profile post in the Conservatives’ opposition shadow cabinet as critic for infrastructure and communities. Given the Liberals’ promise to increase infrastructure spending to $5 billion a year and promises to fund projects from Surrey LRT to the Broadway subway line to affordable housing, the former Surrey mayor is well suited for the file. Watts joins four other B.C. MPs on the front of the Tory benches—Langley-Aldergrove MP Mark Warawa is critic for seniors; Chilliwack-Hope’s Mark Strahl is critic for fisheries, oceans & the Coast Guard; Richmond Centre MP Alice Wong is critic for small business; and Abbotsford MP Ed Fast is critic for environment and climate change.