Saskatoon economy continues to sizzle: Three times rate of rest of Canada

The StarPhoenix September 28, 2013 - Saskatoon will be the fastest growing census metropolitan area (CMA) economy in Canada this year followed closely by Regina, according to The Conference Board of Canada's Metropolitan Outlook - Autumn 2013.

"Saskatoon and Regina continue to sizzle," said Mario Lefebvre, Conference Board director, Centre for Municipal Studies. "In 2013, both economies are expected to grow about three times as fast as the overall Canadian economy.

Saskatoon's economy will expand by 5.2 per cent in 2013, before easing to 3.5 per cent in 2014. The city's employment, which rose a robust 4.7 per cent in 2012, is expected to grow by an even stronger 6.1 per cent this year.

"Vibrant job markets in Saskatoon and Regina are attracting newcomers from all over Canada and abroad, boosting population growth and spurring demand for housing," Lefebvre said.

Saskatoon Mayor Don Atchison said it's important growth is coming from multiple sectors, including agriculture, mining, manufacturing and processing, and agricultural bio research.

"If you become a onesector community, when you have a downturn that's when you run into major problems. So it's exceedingly important for us to keep striving to be as balanced as possible," Atchison said.

With the rapid growth comes challenges, but he's more than happy to deal with them.

"I would rather have the challenges we have today than those of economies that are in a downturn where people are losing their homes, businesses are closing their doors.

"Here, it's a healthy concern, and that is to make sure we have good, clean affordable housing for people to live in, safe and secure neighbourhoods, that it's a safe and inviting neighbourhood for all cultures. We want people from all over the world to have an opportunity to succeed just as people in Saskatoon have." Acting city manager Randy Grauer said the Conference Board's projections are encouraging.

"Overall, the report demonstrates Saskatoon continues to be a destination for people looking for a good quality of life and opportunities in business or on the job front," Grauer said.

Regina's economy will also continue to expand at a brisk pace, growing by five per cent this year and 3.9 per cent in 2014.

Western cities round out the Top 5 in expected growth.

Energy-related investment in Alberta continues to drive gains in Edmonton's construction, primary and manufacturing sectors. Edmonton's economic growth is expected to come in at a solid 4.2 per cent in 2013.

The board said Calgary's economy will moderate considerably in 2013, mostly as a result of the floods that hit the region this past summer. After growing by 4.3 per cent in 2012, real GDP in Calgary will increase by 3.3 per cent this year and improve slightly to 3.4 per cent next year. Real GDP in Vancouver is expected to increase by only 2.2 per cent this year, due to slowdowns in both the manufacturing and construction sectors.

HIGHLIGHTS

Saskatoon, Regina, Edmonton, Calgary and Vancouver will occupy the top five rankings in this edition of the Metropolitan Outlook.

The remaining eight Census Metropolitan Areas in this forecast can expect growth in real GDP of less than two per cent in 2013.

A decline in manufacturing and weak services sectors will hold back growth in Toronto, Montreal and Hamilton.

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