OTTAWA—Cities in Quebec are set for a bumpy ride in 2013, while increased offshore oil production will make St. John’s, N.L., the fastest growing economy among 15 Canadian cities, according to the Conference Board of Canada.
The think-tank’s Metropolitan Outlook-Summer 2013 finds, outside of strong growth in the Newfoundland and Labrador capital, most of the cities analyzed will post moderate economic gains for the year, with 13 of 15 Census Metropolitan Areas (CMAs) expected to seen real gross domestic product (GDP) growth of between one and two per cent.
“With economic growth forecast to reach five per cent this year, St. John’s is expected to more than recover from a 3.2 per cent decline in 2012,” Mario Lefebvre, director of the Conference Board’s Centre for Municipal Studies, said in a statement. “As the hub for the provincial offshore petroleum industry, St. John’s economy will get a lift from higher offshore oil and gas production.”
Lefebvre said growth in the city’s construction sector will continue to be positive in 2013, though more modest than in recent years.
The construction sector will give a slight economic boost to some cities in southern Ontario, according to the report, with most of that growth coming from non-residential projects.
One exception to the slowing pace of residential construction is in Oshawa, Ont., which continues to benefit from solid population growth.
Thanks to sound overall construction activity, its economy will expand by two per cent, the only CMA in this edition of the outlook besides St. John’s to achieve significant growth.
To the west of Toronto, Kitchener-Cambridge-Waterloo’s real GDP is forecast to expand by 1.6 per cent, its slowest pace of growth since 2009.
The slower growth will be attributable in part to a slowdown in manufacturing.
But in 2014, initial work on a light-rail transit (LRT) system will energize the local construction sector and push total GDP growth to 2.9 per cent.
According to the Conference Board, London, Ont., will see relatively soft economic growth of 1.2 per cent this year, mainly due to ongoing restraint in public sector spending and an expected decline in manufacturing output.
The border city of Windsor, Ont., is forecast to continue to achieve modest economic growth, reaching 1.5 per cent in 2013.
Weakness in the services sector will limit St. Catharines-Niagara’s economic growth to 1.4 per cent this year, slightly below the pace recorded in the previous two years.
To the north, Sudbury, Ont., will see its economy expand by 1.2 per cent, as government cutbacks weigh down modest growth in mining.
Manufacturing gains in Thunder Bay, Ont., will help offset slow services sector growth, supporting GDP growth of 1.1 per cent.
The fiscal belt-tightening will be particularly hard on Kingston, Ont., according to the report, where health and education’s share of economic activity is nearly double that of Ontario as a whole.
Not surprisingly, the think-tank said, economic growth is expected to be just one per cent this year.
Back in the Maritimes, the construction sector is forecast to contract again in 2013 in Moncton, N.B., thanks to weaker housing starts.
However, widespread growth among the remaining sectors will still lead to a 1.9 per cent increase in real GDP in the area for this year.
In Saint John, N.B., the economy will grow by 1.1 per cent, an improvement over last year’s decline, but the CMA’s outlook remains limited by weakness in construction and in wholesale and retail trade.
In British Columbia’s Lower Mainland, negative growth in the construction sector is also expected in Abbotsford-Mission this year.
Fortunately, output in the services sector will see some improvement so that total real GDP growth should reach 1.9 per cent in 2013.
Weak investment coupled with the government’s efforts to balance the budget are the factors dragging down Quebec, according to the report.
Saguenay, Que., will see its economy expand by 1.5 per cent this year, partly because of growth in the forestry and mining sectors.
In Sherbrooke, Que., gains in wholesale and retail trade and in finance, insurance and real estate will drive GDP growth of 1.5 per cent.
Trois-Rivières, Que., between Montreal and Quebec City, faces another tough year, as the shutdown of the Gentilly-2 reactor will be responsible in large part for a decline of 2.4 per cent in the area’s real GDP.