Abbotsford-Mission economy to grow at second-fastest rate in Canada

Growth is expected to help push unemployment rates down and boost household incomes

The Abbotsford/Mission region is expected to have the second-fastest growing economy in Canada next year.

While growth across the country is expected to slow, the Conference Board of Canada (CBC) expects Abbotsford-Mission area to buck that trend. The area’s GDP is expected to grow by 2.5 per cent this year, and by 2.3 per cent annually through to 2022, according to the organization’s most-recent metropolitan outlook. That growth is expected to help push unemployment rates down, boost household income and draw more people to the region.

Last year saw the region under-perform the national average, with growth of just 1.9 per cent. That was below the region’s 10-year average and well below the 3.1 per cent gains by the country as a whole.

But the CBC expects a solid U.S. economy, a cheap Canadian dollar and growing business opportunities to help Abbotsford-Mission’s goods-producing and manufacturing sectors.

Last year saw construction begin on more than 1,700 homes in Abbotsford, a 24-year-high. With thousands of more housing starts coming over the coming years, the CBC expects the construction industry to perform well.

The report also notes that Abbotsford-Mission added 2,400 net new jobs just last year. Job gains are expected to be less than that next year, but pick up in the years to follow.

However, American trade policies pose some risk to the economy. With U.S. President Donald Trump regularly threatening to rip up trade agreements, the report notes that growth in industries that export products could slow. The region will feel some of the effects of stiff new duties on softwood lumber. But local manufacturers that rely on wood products shouldn’t be substantially affected because the duties don’t apply to value-added products like those made by timber manufacturer StructureCraft.

The report was published in March, before Kinder Morgan decided to halt non-essential work to expand its Trans Mountain Pipeline. The report doesn’t mention the controversial pipeline, but Abbotsford Mayor Henry Braun and various business leaders said earlier this month the province’s resistance to the project threatens to create a “crisis of confidence” among those looking to invest in British Columbia and Canada.


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tolsen@abbynews.com

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