Construction continues to drive economic growth in the northern Ontario cities of Sault Ste. Marie, Rimouski and Timmins, according to a recent outlook report from the Conference Board of Canada.
“Key sectors in the economies of Sault Ste. Marie and Rimouski are expected to show improvement this year, thanks in part to a weaker Canadian dollar and solid U.S. economy,” said Alan Arcand, Associate Director, Centre for Municipal Studies. “These factors will also help offset the negative impact of lower metal prices for Timmins’ mining industry.”
Sault Ste. Marie’s goods sector is forecast to post its first gain since 2011, thanks to positive outlooks for both manufacturing and construction. Things are looking up for the local construction industry thanks to projects such as the $50-million construction of the new St. Mary’s College, road and sewer repair work, and various commercial building projects. The city’s manufacturing industry is benefiting from a weaker Canadian dollar and solid U.S. economy. Overall, Sault Ste. Marie’s real GDP is expected to expand by 1.5 per cent this year and next, following growth of 1 per cent in 2014.
The Timmins economy is expected to post solid growth over the next two years, with real GDP forecast to rise 2.4 per cent this year and 2.3 per cent in 2016. The city’s construction industry is forecast to be stronger this year, with output growth of 2.8 per cent expected in 2015. Despite weaker metal prices, mining companies are continuing with exploration work in the area, while production is rising at some mines. Thus, output will continue to climb in both the resources and manufacturing sectors. At the same time, consumers are expected to increase spending, thanks to a gain in employment of 1.6 per cent this year.
Rimouski’s economic growth is expected to pick up from 1.1 per cent last year to 1.7 per cent in 2015. Positive results are anticipated this year for the local construction sector, where output is forecast to expand by 1.2 per cent. The services sector is expected to increase 1.6 per cent in 2015, the first expansion in over 10 years. The stronger economy will drive solid employment growth of 1.2 per cent this year.
The Mid-Sized Cities Outlook provides economic forecasts for seven cities that contributed financially to the research — Lethbridge, Red Deer, Medicine Hat, Brandon, Timmins, Sault Ste. Marie and Rimouski. It also includes historical economic and employment data for 32 mid-sized Canadian cities.