Regional economy looks promising

Outlook for 2017 across Thompson Okanagan region is largely positive, forecasts Central 1 Credit Union senior economist.

A construction boom is one reason for 2016 having been a positive economic year for the Thompson Okanagan region.

The Thompson Okanagan region will continue to a driving force behind B.C.’s overall economic growth in 2017, according to the latest economy forecast from Central 1 Credit Union.

While 2016 growth across the region is reflected in a rising population growth and increased housing prices, that growth has been the most concentrated in the Kelowna metro area.

“For this past year in the Kelowna area, there was about three per cent population growth while overall for the region it was about 1.5 per cent, so it is pretty slack outside of Kelowna and to a lesser extent the North Okanagan,” said Central 1 senior economist Bryan Yu.

Along with population growth, Yu said the Kelowna real estate market remains a strong business activity driver compared to other parts of the region.

“The region as a whole has seen a pickup in housing market activity since coming out of the last recession. There was an oversupply of housing when the recession hit but we are out of that now as the housing markets across the region are more balanced.

“Right now the region is in pretty good shape, coming off a 40 per cent increase overall in building activity in 2016. That should pull back and stabilize a little in 2017 but it will still be an economic driver moving forward.”

But like the rest of the province, resource-based industries have an impact on the Okanagan Thompson region, with the downturn in Alberta’s oil patch having an impact on local job commuters, and the uncertainty hanging over the stalled U.S.-Canada softwood lumber talks.

“The lumber situation is a concern across the Interior for communities reliant on the forest industry, as it looks like there might be some sort of tariff imposed on Canadian lumber exports to the U.S. in 2017 if an agreement isn’t otherwise reached,” Yu said.

But Yu added a potential tariff, depending on the amount, won’t have the same hardship on the industry it might have 10 or 15 years ago, because the industry mills have become more efficient through capital investment, and the ongoing push to open up Asian lumber export markets.

“The industry is in better position to weather any kind of storm and the prospect in the U.S. is for the economy to grow which will see an increase in housing starts, so there will be a need for Canadian lumber to meet that building demand.”

Yu said people and their spending and relocation efforts remaining a key economic flashpoint for the Okanagan Thompson area.

“A big driving force for your region is people and consumer demand. Kelowna has built itself up as a hub for the region and a leading economic urban area for the province,” he said.

“Traditionally, you have seen retirees relocating to the region, but now you are starting to see in Kelowna younger families moving there, attracted by the new job opportunities such as in the high-tech field, to start businesses that service the growing population consumer demands, and as well with the growth in tourism.

“The Thompson Okanagan is not just a resource-based economy anymore, and Kelowna is a leading indicator of that within the region.”

How other B.C. regions fare in Central 1 economic outlook:

* Vancouver Island will continue to enjoy healthy growth, driven by an expanding population and a solid provincial government fiscal position.

* Metro Vancouver will continue to be B.C.’s provincial growth driver, but housing activity will weaken.

Kootenay economic region will see mild growth and unemployment stuck at about eight per cent.

* Cariboo has lost jobs and people in recent years, trends that may stop  but not reverse through 2018.

* North Coast and Nechako will continue to suffer lost population and weak employment growth.

*Northeast will see greater stability after a slump in 2016, but conditions will remain a challenge.

 

 

 

BARRY GERDING

SENIOR REGIONAL REPORTER

BLACK PRESS-OKANAGAN VALLEY

email: barry.gerding@blackpress.ca

Phone: 250-763-3212; 250-878-7575 (cell)

 

 

 

Just Posted

Vote online to help light up the Larch Hills

Larch Hills Nordic Society competing for Kraft Heinz Project Play funding

Friends and family gather for Parkinson SuperWalk in Salmon Arm

Word on the street: How has Parkinson’s Disease affected you or your family?

Update: Father calls for better drug recognition after 8-year-old overdoses at Okanagan school

The young child ingested an unknown substance Wednesday at a Kelowna school

Seniors at Salmon Arm assisted living facility shocked by Oct. 1 eviction notice

Building owners terminate lease for McGuire Lake Congregate Living, Shuswap Grill Gourmet Burgery

Centennial Field purchase under fire at CSRD open house

South Shuswap residents raise concerns over alternative approval process and quality of property

VIDEO: Vancouver Island mayor details emergency response after fatal bus crash

Sharie Minions says she is ‘appalled’ by condition of road where bus crashed

UVic president offers condolences after two students killed in bus crash

‘We also grieve with those closest to these members of our campus community,’ Cassels says

Coming Home: Penticton fire chief and disaster dog return from hurricane-ravaged Bahamas

The pair spent roughly one week on Great Abaco Island assisting in relief efforts

Newcomer Ferland lines up with sniper Pettersson as Vancouver Canucks camp opens

Ferland provides more depth and a scoring threat up front, Pettersson says

Intelligence official charged seemed to be ‘exemplar of discretion’: UBC professor

Professor Paul Evans says he served on Cameron Ortis’s doctoral dissertation committee

EDITORIAL: This is our election

It is up to the voting public to identify the issues in the upcoming federal election

B.C. company gets licence to test psychedelic drugs for therapy treatment

Salvation Botanicals interested in manufacturing, testing and research and development

B.C. police watchdog to investigate man’s head injury during RCMP arrest

Suspect fled on a bicycle and fell off when an officer attempted to stop him

Cyclists ride in Okanagan to support Rwandan schools

The 10th annual Lake2Lake Ride for Rwanda has raised more than $100,000 in donations and counting

Most Read