Economic growth eases in the west, but Alberta cities still on top



    OTTAWA, April 10 /CNW Telbec/ - Western Canadian cities are not expected
to grow as fast in 2007 as they did last year, but the west will still boast
six of the eight fastest-growing census metropolitan areas (CMAs) in Canada,
according to the Conference Board's Metropolitan Outlook - Spring 2007.
    "Calgary and Edmonton will lead all Canadian cities covered in this
edition of the Metropolitan Outlook for the fourth consecutive year," said
Mario Lefebvre, Director, Metropolitan Outlook Service. "The outlook for
Central Canada and for cities in the Atlantic provinces remains muted, with
the exception of Halifax."
    Calgary's real gross domestic product (GDP) is forecast to grow by 4.2
per cent in 2007, while Edmonton's economy is expected to grow by 3.7 per
cent. Both cities are riding strong growth in the energy sector, but sectors
such as non-residential construction and retail sales are also performing very
well.
    The Halifax economy is on the rebound. After posting its strongest growth
rate in four years in 2006, at 2.6 per cent, Halifax's economy will expand by
an even faster rate of 2.9 per cent in 2007, tying Saskatoon and Vancouver as
the third-fastest growing CMAs. Halifax's improved outlook is due primarily to
continued growth in the services sector and a recovery in manufacturing
output.
    Saskatoon and Vancouver are expected to fall slightly off their 2006 pace
this year, although both CMAs are forecast to enjoy solid consumer spending
growth and strong non-residential construction activity. Victoria's economy is
churning out new jobs for the second straight year. These employment gains are
supporting strong retail sales and driving real GDP growth to an expected 2.8
per cent in 2007.
    The goods sector-especially non-residential construction-will bolster
Winnipeg's economy for the third consecutive year. Combined with a rebound in
manufacturing, Winnipeg is set to achieve real GDP growth of 2.6 per cent in
2007.
    Regina's economic growth will slow to 1.9 per cent in 2007, limited by an
expected decline in housing activity. Fortunately, job creation has been
healthy of late, supporting growth in consumer spending.
    Oshawa (2.7 per cent), Montreal (2.6 per cent) and Toronto (2.5 per cent)
are the growth leaders in Central Canada this year. While these results
represent an improvement for each city, all three will have to wait until 2008
before posting growth in line with their economic potential, as the
manufacturing sector recovers gradually in these and other Central Canadian
CMAs. Economic growth in Kitchener (2.3 per cent), Hamilton (1.5 per cent),
Kingston (1.5 per cent) and Windsor (0.7 per cent) is also being held back in
2007 by the struggling manufacturing sector.
    A few Central Canada CMAs are, however, posting somewhat stronger growth
in manufacturing output-these include Ottawa-Gatineau, Quebec City and
Saguenay. Both Ottawa-Gatineau and Quebec City are forecast to grow by 2.2 per
cent this year, and Saguenay is expected to post real GDP growth of 1.5 per
cent.
    After a strong performance in 2006, growth in services sector output in
St. John's will moderate in 2007. As a result, real GDP growth will ease to
2.4 per cent.
    In 2006, Saint John posted its strongest economic expansion since 2003,
but growth still came in at a modest 1.6 per cent. Saint John can expect
economic growth to reach 1.9 per cent this year-thanks to several large
construction projects that are continuing into 2007, along with an increase in
manufacturing activity.

    The Metropolitan Outlook, published quarterly, provides economic insights
for 27 CMAs, their province and Canada.




For further information:

For further information: Brent Dowdall, Media Relations, (613) 526-3090,
ext.448, corpcomm@conferenceboard.ca


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