Boom and gloom in British Columbia’s north – by Nelson Bennet (Business In Vancouver – September 12, 2019)

As of May this year, an estimated 4,385 workers were employed on the $8.8 billion Site C dam construction project near Fort St. John. Kitimat and Terrace are humming with activity, thanks to the $40 billion LNG Canada-Coastal GasLink pipeline project.

Port expansion in Prince Rupert has created an additional 1,000 jobs since 2016. Employment is strong in the Dawson Creek-Tumbler Ridge-Chetwynd triangle, thanks in part to Conuma Coal Resources reopening a third mine – Willow Creek – last year.

And in the Golden Triangle of northwest B.C., mining exploration spending was up by about $165 million in 2018, according to EY. Economic growth in B.C.’s north is reflected in housing starts and construction permits.

Residential building permits in northern B.C. were up 30% in 2018 compared with the total in 2017, industrial permits were up 427% and institutional and government building permits were up 42%, according to the annual State of the North report.

Overall, indicators show northern B.C.’s economy growing in 2018. But in small, forestry-dependent communities like Mackenzie and Fort St. James, it’s a very different story. Both have been hit hard recently with sawmill closures and curtailments.

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