Modest growth forecast for Sudbury – by Laura Shantora Nelles (Sudbury Star – August 8, 2013)

The Sudbury Star is the City of Greater Sudbury’s daily newspaper.

Greater Sudbury’s economy is set to grow this year by a modest 1.2%, and the city can expect slow but steady growth over the next five years, a Conference Board of Canada report said Wednesday.

In its five-year forecast, the Conference Board predicted Sudbury’s unemployment rate will dip to 5.7% in 2017. In June, the unemployment rate was 7.5%. Conference Board economist Jane McIntrye said increased production in mining and non-residential construction sectors will help boost growth in Greater Sudbury.

“The opening of the Clarabelle and Totten mines, as well as the water sports centre and the addition to Dynamic Earth, (along with) road construction and those type of projects, will contribute to growth on the non-residential side.”

The board said housing will begin to pick up next year. Sudbury’s residential housing starts were down 9.9% in 2012 from 2011, due to a steady decrease in population over the last five years.

McIntyre said the city’s population is expected to remain about the same, which should help get the housing market back on track next year.

Housing starts are expected to drop another 26.1% this year, to a total of 396, but minimal growth in population of 0.1% for 2014 should see the housing demand increase 15.7% next year to a projected 458.

“There’s not going to be a huge growth in population,” she said. “But with some stability in the population (after the decrease) should see the housing market increase.”

While growth in Greater Sudbury appears to be modest, McIntyre said the five-year forecast was prepared using the latest information, which does not include the possibility of the Cliffs Natural Resources ferrochrome smelter opening within the five-year time frame of the forecast.

“The project has been stalled, so it could take quite a few years to get going again. If it gets going, that would be an upside.”

Cliffs plans to open the smelter in Capreol, creating 400 to 500 jobs processing chromite ore from the Ring of Fire area of northwestern Ontario. However, the project has been delayed as the company sorts through environmental, native and infrastructure issues.

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