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Western cities enjoy fastest growing economies
 

OTTAWA, December 19  - Western Canadian cities will top the list of the fastest growing metropolitan economies in Canada next year, just as they did in 2005, according to the Conference Board's Metropolitan Outlook - Winter 2006.

"In 2005, western Canada boasted eight of the nine fastest-growing metropolitan economies, led by Edmonton. In 2006, four of the top five are expected to be in the west," said Mario Lefebvre, Director, Metropolitan Outlook Service.

Thanks to Olympic-related activity, another year of exceptional growth is expected in the construction sector in 2006, paving the way for Vancouver to have the fastest growing economy in Canada next year. Almost 31,000 new jobs are expected to be created in Vancouver in 2006, and real gross domestic product (GDP) is forecast to grow by four per cent.

Calgary's real GDP is expected to grow by 3.8 per cent in 2006, a slightly slower pace of activity than in 2005. Strong non-residential construction and services sector activity will support employment growth and, in turn, domestic demand.

After a relatively modest performance in 2005, real GDP in the Toronto Census Metropolitan Area (CMA) is forecast to expand by a robust 3.7 per cent in 2006, its fastest growth rate in four years. Manufacturing activity is expected to pick up, as the sector completes its adjustment to the stronger dollar. Between 2007 and 2010, economic growth in Toronto is expected to surpass, on average, that of all other Canadian cities.

The economy of Abbotsford, B.C., is expected to expand by 3.1 per cent, its third consecutive year of sound growth. Continued strong population growth is supporting robust activity in the CMA's services sector.

With real GDP growth of 5.2 per cent, Edmonton led all metropolitan economies in 2005. Growth will moderate to a still healthy three per cent in 2006, as energy-related investment remains strong and employment rebounds from a one-year pause in 2005.

A recovery in the goods sector in 2006, particularly in manufacturing and construction, will boost Halifax's real GDP growth to 2.9 per cent.

After underperforming for three straight years, Ottawa-Gatineau's economy is expected to grow by 2.9 per cent next year. Leading the way will be very healthy non-residential construction activity, with the recovering high-tech sector providing support.

Saskatoon's economy, which posted a 4.5 per cent gain in 2005, will expand by a further 2.9 per cent in 2006. This economy, a model of consistency over the past few years, will record a softer pace of job growth in 2006.

After posting real GDP growth greater than three per cent in 2005, the economies of Regina, Winnipeg and Victoria will slow down somewhat, each recording increases slightly over two per cent in 2006. Winnipeg and Regina will enjoy solid non-residential construction activity and healthier employment gains, while output growth in the services sector of both cities
will slow. In Victoria, growth will decelerate in both the goods and services sectors.

The Metropolitan Outlook, published quarterly, provides economic insights into 27 CMAs, the provinces, and Canada.

For more information contact:
Brent Dowdall, Media Relations,
Tel: (613) 526-3090 ext. 448
E-mail: contactcboc@conferenceboard.ca

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