Pattullo Bridge replacement is one of a group of major construction projects due to begin in B.C. (Black Press Media)

Big construction projects to drive big migration to B.C. in 2020

Forestry, housing to slow growth, says credit union forecast

Pipelines, LNG Canada, the Pattullo Bridge replacement and a new Vancouver subway are all set to drive a big increase in interprovincial migration to B.C. starting next year, Central 1 Credit Union says in its latest economic forecast.

Coupled with Site C dam construction that is reaching its peak, these major projects are expected to help push interprovincial migration into B.C. from 3,400 people this year to more than 12,000 in 2020, says the organization representing credit unions in B.C. and Ontario.

B.C.’s economic growth is leading the country, and the pace of growth is expected to slow from 2.7 per cent in 2019 to near one per cent by 2020, according to the forecast.

While internal signs for B.C. are strong, global economic conditions continue to cast a shadow. A U.S.-China trade war with Canada entangled, American trade actions against softwood lumber and turmoil in the European Union with the impending exit of Britain are risk factors in the coming years.

Housing construction continues at a fast pace, with a record second quarter for B.C. housing starts, but that is mainly a result of pre-sale condos in earlier years, said Bryan Yu, deputy chief economist for Central 1.

“Home ownership demand, owing to federal mortgage stress tests and provincial government tax measures, has dragged the resale market into recession-like conditions since early 2018, with price levels adjusting lower accordingly, says B.C. Economic Outlook 2019-2022. “Metro Vancouver is at the centre of the market correction, with sales trending at 2012 levels and price declines nearly 10 per cent from peak.”

RELATED: B.C. housing market slows, prices fall in 2019

RELATED: B.C. mayors call for federal forest industry aid

Other limiting factors are the ongoing slump in the B.C. forest industry and the availability of skilled labour as people retire in greater numbers. The unemployment rate is forecast to decline to four per cent in the coming years.

Are there going to be enough skilled people in the rest of Canada to move to B.C. for jobs? Yu says there are.

“The economic conditions are relatively slower in Alberta at the current time, and with these major projects we do see a strong labour market in B.C.,” Yu said in an interview with Black Press. “There are always concerns about affordability issues in the [urban] region.”

Workers and their families are part of a wider trend in B.C. population growth, with international immigrants being the main source. From 2019 to 2021, B.C. is forecast to grow by an average of 60,000 people annually, driving significant demand in retail consumption and housing.


@tomfletcherbc
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