April 10, 2024

NORTHERN BC – According to BC Check-Up: Invest, an annual report by the Chartered Professional Accountants of British Columbia (CPABC) on investment trends across the province, 59 housing units began construction in Northeast B.C.’s largest municipalities, slightly fewer than the 63 recorded in 2022.

“Following a multi-decade low in housing starts in 2022, residential investment remained suppressed in 2023,” said Alan Bone, CPA, CA, partner at Sander Rose Bone Grindle. “The Northeast has not seen the same migration influx as other regions, so housing demand has not taken off in the same way.”

The majority of new construction occurred in Fort St. John, where 51 units were started, most of which were detached units. Meanwhile, the eight starts in Dawson Creek marked the third straight year in which fewer than 10 housing units had begun construction.

“In the absence of a population boom to drive new residential activity, higher interest rates are more noticeably affecting investment,” continued Bone. “We are also seeing slowdowns in other areas, including major projects.”

The value of major projects in Northeast B.C fell 6.9 per cent between Q3 2022 and Q3 2023, as the value of projects that were previously on hold fell by nearly $2.0 billion. Notably, the Merrick Mainline Pipeline project was removed from the inventory. Across the region, there were 36 projects worth $41.6 billion, which accounted for 11.2 per cent of the provincial total.

“Despite the decline in major project activity, the Northeast still boasted the third highest MPI (Major Project Inventory) value in the province,” continued Bone. “Future investment looks a bit less rosy, as some of the largest projects in the region are nearing completion.”

There were $25.1 billion worth of major projects under construction in the third quarter of 2023, representing 60.3 per cent of total activity in the region. The largest project under construction remained BC Hydro’s $16.0 billion Site C Project, which is expected to be completed in 2025. Since the third quarter of 2022, construction started on the Kemess Underground Copper-Gold Mine in Chetwynd, which is valued at $524 million.

“With construction on the Site C Dam winding down, we’ve already started to see layoffs in construction positions,” concluded Bone. “The region will continue to rely on its natural resource sector as a main driver of economic activity.”

Source: cpabc

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