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News 1130: BC Business Council endorses tolls on more bridges

The BC Business Council has come out in favour of tolling more bridges in the Lower Mainland. 

The suggestion is made in a report looking at the need to keep up with demands on our roads, hospitals and water systems.

The council says tolling more bridges will improve equity across the region. 

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Business in Vancouver: BC needs strategic approach to developing infrastructure, says BCBC

The demand on current infrastructure in British Columbia will increase in the decades to come, and the province’s current plans to address these needs are inadequate, argues the Business Council of BC in a white paper released November 5.

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Vancouver Sun: Business Council of BC calls for strategic infrastructure spending plan

British Columbians might think the province has racked up enough debt building capital projects such as the Port Mann Bridge replacement and major expansion of Surrey Memorial Hospital, but a key business lobby group is pushing Victoria to ramp up strategic infrastructure spending.

Even with B.C.’s debt forecast to hit $41 billion by the end of next March, now is still an opportune time to launch a 10-year infrastructure plan in the province, according to Ken Peacock, vice-president and chief economist for the Business Council of B.C.

The Business Council of B.C. put its recommendations on continued infrastructure spending in the province into a white paper it released today.

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Vancouver Sun, Barbara Yaffe: Can BC reclaim its competitive edge?

The Business Council of B.C. is sounding an alarm on a dirty little secret provincial politicians don’t want to hear about — B.C. is no longer a competitive place to do business.

The Clark government does not want to hear it because its commitment to balanced budgets and whisker-thin surpluses leaves no cash to address the problem.

Regardless, the business council pulled no punches in a recent pre-budget submission to the provincial standing committee on finance and government services. Such committees traditionally canvas stakeholder views in the fall regarding the spring budget.

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Business in Vancouver: Profile of Lynne Platt, US consul general, Vancouver

“I wouldn’t be doing my job if I didn’t know [Business Council of British Columbia CEO] Greg D’Avignon, [British Columbia Chamber of Commerce CEO] John Winter or if I hadn’t met with Iain Black and the folks at the VBOT,” Platt said.

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Nanaimo Daily News: Economist 'optimistic' for turnaround

Attendees at this year's State of the Island Economic Summit opened their annual conference with a prediction from a prominent B.C. economist: expect economic growth, but don't expect a boom.

Ken Peacock, chief economist for the Business Council of B.C., delivered the remarks during a luncheon speech to hundreds of business, government and institutional representatives attending the two-day conference being hosted by the Vancouver Island Economic Alliance.

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Business in Vancouver: Seattle soars as land costs stall Vancouver growth

[EXCERPT] To observers of Vancouver’s economy, the city’s economic engine increasingly appears to be stuck in neutral. Despite a growing tech sector, renewed activity in film and TV production and stalwart sectors like financial services, incomes continue to lag behind those in other Canadian cities and have even fallen in the past few years compared with other metropolitan areas. 

“It’s not a new problem, but perhaps it’s gotten more salient because of the rise in housing prices,” said Jock Finlayson, an economist and chief policy officer at the Business Council of British Columbia. 

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Vancouver Sun: BC's new LNG tax regime pleases one company, offers certainty to industry

[EXCERPT] B.C. Business Council vice-president Tom Syer there's still more elements companies will need to see before making final investment decisions.

"This is one piece of the puzzle, it's an important piece . . . but it's certainly not the most important from the tax perspective on what the proponents are going to be paying," he said.

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Pique: Revenue challenges ahead for Whistler?

[EXCERPT] Whistler is not alone in relying on its good looks and charm rather than a specific strategy to attract businesses. As Jock Finlayson, executive vice-president and chief policy officer at the Business Council of B.C. wrote to theVancouver Sun earlier this month:

"We are poor at what the economic development folks call 'business attraction and retention.' There's no regional economic development plan, agency or marketing effort, nor even a convenient regional database with relevant information that might be of interest to prospective investors. Instead, the individual municipalities that make up the region either do nothing in this domain, or — as with Vancouver, Surrey etc. — run their own (smallish) individual economic development programs and agencies. As a result, there is no coherent or effective message communicated to outside companies and investors as to why they should consider Metro Vancouver."

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Business in Vancouver: Handicapping the field in BC's high-stakes race to get its LNG to market

[EXCERPT] As the Business Council of BC (BCBC) pointed out in its LNG Opportunity in BC: Separating Rhetoric from Reality, the province has much in its favour in developing an economically viable and environmentally responsible LNG industry.
Those factors include world-class reserves, decades of experience in the unconventional natural gas sector, political stability and relative proximity to Asian markets, which represented 72% of global natural gas import volumes in 2013.

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Globe and Mail: University budget reform under pressure

[EXCERPT] “B.C. is saying ‘here are the areas we want to grow and we are concerned that postsecondary education is not aligned with that.’ … Areas that are not designated as expansion will all have to contract,” said Jock Finlayson, the vice-president and chief policy officer at the Business Council of British Columbia

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Vancouver Sun, Pete McMartin: Lotus Land or lowest land? Does Metro have room for a future?

[EXCERPT] “For many young adults in particular,” emailed Jock Finlayson, executive vice-president and chief policy officer at the Business Council of B.C., “Vancouver increasingly has become a place where ambition goes to die. Huge numbers of young adults with educational credentials are under-employed in this market and are likely to stay that way if they remain here.
“In the crass language used by economists, those who want to ‘maximize their human capital’ are well advised to look elsewhere, or at least to be flexible as to where they are willing to live and work once they complete post-secondary education. Geographic mobility is important for individuals — particularly younger age cohorts — who want to put their education and skills to best use, in an economic/financial sense.”

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First Nations Inc: Entrepreneurs take over


Tom Syer, the B.C. Business Council’s specialist on aboriginal issues, acknowledges that aboriginal businesses are well below the roughly 5.4 per cent share of the B.C. population made up of First Nations and Metis people.

But he said it’s clear the gap is narrowing, and a study by the Canadian Council for Aboriginal Business noted that there were 37,000 self-employed aboriginal people in Canada, as recorded in the 2006 census, up 38 per cent from 2001. The growth rate was more than five times the overall Canadian rate of seven per cent.

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Vancouver Sun, Barbara Yaffe: Attention Shoppers: retail revolution headed to Vancouver

With a newly rebounding retail sector, Vancouver is gearing up to enter the shopping big leagues in 2015.

“After a number of years of sluggish growth, retail sales in B.C. have made some impressive gains recently,” says Ken Peacock, chief economist at the Business Council of B.C.

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Times Colonist: Island shows manufacturing might

Greater Victoria manufacturing firms are turning out products to export world-wide, but no one really has a firm handle on the sector’s value to region’s economy.

So a survey is being launched to develop a clear picture of those businesses and to find out what they need to survive and expand. The Greater Victoria Development Agency, Western Economic Diversification, post-secondary schools and other agencies are behind the study. The survey is part of a three-year initiative announced in April to promote international trade.

It comes as the Business Council of B.C. is urging the province to pay more attention to manufacturing and seek ways to help the high-value sector grow.

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Vancouver Sun: Whistler loses visitors as jobs go unfilled

[EXCERPT} Both Winter and Jock Finlayson, an economist and executive vice-president of the B.C. Business Council, said Whistler and other communities, especially remote boom towns, can make a compelling case to Ottawa.

“The evidence suggests that few Canadians are prepared to leave urban communities to re-locate to small northern towns to take entry-level service jobs, even if the pay for these jobs exceeds what’s on offer for similar positions in cities or larger towns,” Finlayson said.

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Business in Vancouver: Asian economy slowing down, but BC exports to China and other key trading partners still rising

[EXCERPT] But the pace of growth in B.C.'s exports to China is slowing, and that will have an impact on B.C., according to Ken Peacock, chief economist at the Business Council of BC. With monthly growth hovering around plus or minus 2% compared with the previous year, exports to China are essentially flat, Peacock said.

 “When you go from 10%, 15%, 20% year-over-year growth to essentially flat, that is a little bit of a different world.”

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Pique: Apply here: Whistler is booming, but businesses struggle to keep up

Help signs decorate business windows, online job boards are filled with posts and the back pages of the newspapers are stocked with ads for positions from servers to construction workers — and everything in between.

Whistler employers, across almost all sectors, are in the midst of what some say is the worst labour shortage they have seen in years.

... [Excerpt]

Chief economist and vice president of the Business Council of British Columbia, Ken Peacock, said the council is seeing some similar shortages to Whistler's, regionally.

"Our sense is province-wide, in the large urban areas, we don't have this crunch, but some of our big resorts around the province struggle with this in both the winter and the summer months, particularly with the tourism in the summer months," he said.

According to Peacock, part of the issue is tourism in B.C. seems to be up.

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Vancouver Sun, Barbara Yaffe: Olympic legacy paying off for BC

The 2010 Olympics, one of too few government initiatives aimed at bolstering B.C.’s crucial tourism sector, may be yielding some delayed benefit.

A new report by the B.C. Business Council points to a serious slump in the industry between 2002 and 2009, and gives considerable credit to the Games for the fact a tourism “upswing is now underway.”

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Vancouver Sun, Barbara Yaffe: Lagging labour stats put BC near bottom of pool

[EXCERPT] Jock Finlayson, chief policy officer at the Business Council of B.C., explains: “Relative to other provinces, I believe it is fair to say that B.C. has proportionately more working-age people who, when asked to make the classic work/leisure trade-off, opt at the margin for more leisure.

“This is a matter of personal preference and priorities.”

Surely a somewhat inconvenient decision, however, given that B.C.’s living costs tend to be higher than in other provinces.

Finlayson also notes B.C. has a relatively high number of pre-retirees — people who may be working less than full time as they ease into retirement.

And B.C. has more part-time workers, although this factor “shifts depending on the business cycle and underlying strength of the economy.”

Then too, “the job market in B.C. has been surprisingly soft for the past two years or so. We have had among the slowest rates of job growth in the country.”

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