The economic prospects of Vancouver Island are looking pretty good at the moment.
Just not quite as good as they looked in the fall of 2016.
That’s the verdict of the the third-annual State of the Island economic report unveiled this afternoon as the Vancouver Island Economic Summit wrapped up in Nanaimo.
Susan Mowbray, an economist with MNP and the report’s author said many of the Island’s key economic indicators remain strong, however their rate of growth has slowed. And a few extenuating factors — locally and abroad — bear watching.
Foremost among the big picture items are the increases in Bank of Canada’s prime lending rate and the uncertainty surrounding the North American Free Trade Agreement.
Closer to home, while the demand for wood products remains strong, access to wood fibre means there has not been corresponding increases in wood production. Meanwhile, retail and service businesses are struggling to fill low-wage jobs in part because of a lack of affordable housing.
The growth in the number of international students and tourists coming here has slowed. The caveat of course it that those numbers are still very strong, unemployment is at some of the lowest levels in the province and the softwood situation has yet to put its feared dent in the forestry industry.
And the housing market is booming as our population growth continues in all sub-regions except the North Island.
“I don’t want anyone to think the Island economy won’t continue to go well; it will,” Mowbray said. “The outlook remains rosy. It’s just not quite as rosy as it was a year ago.”