British Columbia

Economy

Northern British Columbia covers two-thirds of the Province's landmass and is home to over 350,000 people, accounting for eight per cent of the province's population. Resource industries continue to be the main economic driver of the northern region and will continue to be so for the foreseeable future, with forestry, mining, LNG, tourism and transportation viewed as promising opportunities.

B.C.’s economic action plan, The BC Jobs Plan identifies eight key industry sectors as important areas for future economic growth in British Columbia: agrifoods, forestry, international education, mining, natural gas, technology, tourism and transportation. All of these key economic drivers are represented in the North and are essential to B.C.’s collective efforts to grow and strengthen our economy, while advancing opportunities for communities and families.

Key Industries

Natural Gas

British Columbia’s Northern Region contains a vast natural gas reserve estimated at 2,933 trillion cubic feet. Recent advancements in technology have made extraction and international export by sea of Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) to foreign markets economically viable. As many countries race to establish themselves as LNG suppliers, B.C.’s abundant supply, low ambient temperature on the North coast and proximity to markets where LNG is in high demand – give B.C. an edge over the competition.

Since 2012 more than $6 billion in investments have been made towards developing LNG for export, in addition to $1 billion already spent in preparation of LNG facilities construction and transportation networks.

B.C.’s natural gas sector currently employees tens of thousands of British Columbians, and generated $1.35 billion in revenue in 2009/10.

Technology and Green Economy

British Columbia’s Technology sector is one of the top contributors to the provincial economy and represents an extraordinary opportunity for industry investors and job seekers. The industry provides annual revenues of $18 billion and 84,000 jobs – recent advancements in fibre-network technology mean tech start-ups are no longer restricted to southern metropolitan areas.

Technology is vital to B.C.’s economy as it facilitates growth across all of the economic sectors. Resource extraction R&D is critical to all operations in the North, be it mining, LNG or forestry.

B.C. is committed to supporting the tech industry in the North – some examples include: expanding the BC Training credit to include co-ops in small tech firms and working with the clean energy sector to ensure significant renewable energy opportunities.

Energy and Mining

Mining plays an important role in B.C.’s Northern economy, with revenues of $8.3 billion (almost 3 times the revenue of 2001 at $2.8 billion) and is responsible for employing 30,000 British Columbians. B.C. is Canada’s largest exporter of coal, largest producer of copper and only producer of molybdenum, in addition to being a large supplier of gold, silver, lead and zinc. The BC Jobs Plan targets eight new mines and nine upgrades and expansions to current mines by 2015, providing 2,000 construction jobs, 2,000 new direct jobs and 3,000 new indirect jobs.

B.C. has significantly cut red tape in the industry, reducing the Notice of Work backlog by 80% and reducing the Notice of Work application average turnaround time from 110 days to 63 days.

Forestry

The forestry industry’s outlook has continued to brighten over the past two years in B.C. Harvest level are up 50% from 2009, sector jobs rose 9.5% and exports rose 33% to $10.2 billion. New legislation is supporting bio-energy growth opportunities and much effort is being directed to expanding into developing markets for export.

Over forty percent of the province's Annual Allowable Cut, totaling approximately 35 million cubic metres, comes from the northern interior of British Columbia and a new Wood Innovation and Design Centre is current being built in Prince George to promote the many benefits of building with wood.

Agrifoods

B.C. has one of the most diverse agricultural sectors in Canada, producing more than 200 agricultural commodities and harvesting 100 seafood speciies. In 2012, B.C.’s agrifood sector generated $11.7 billion in revenues, exported $2.5 billion in products to more than 130 countries and employed 61,600 British Columbians. B.C.’s northern region contributes to this important sector with fishing, ranching and over 100 farms along the highway 16 corridor. B.C. is working hard to expand markets internationally and within Canada, while encouraging British Columbians to support their community’s local farmers with $2 million in funding for the Buy Local program.

International Education

In 2010, international students spent more than $1.8 billion in B.C., providing support for 22,000 jobs. The BC Jobs Plan has a target of increasing the number of international students studying in B.C. by 50% by 2016 and marketing managers are positioned around the world to make sure it happens. Northern B.C. has a multitude of elementary, secondary and post-secondary institutions that are EQA certified (Education Quality Assurance) that provide visiting students with the quintessential B.C. experience. B.C. is also working to encourage international students to stay in the northern communities they study in to help meet our labour market needs.

Transportation

B.C. has made major investments and focused transportation initiatives on enhancing capacity to get our goods to market. We’ve seen significant increases in volume shipping through our northern Prince Rupert port (which is two days closer to growing markets in Asia than any other mainland U.S. port), and an additional $90 million is being invested in the Prince Rupert Road Rail Corridor. The Prince Rupert project will create 570 construction jobs and 4,000 long term jobs throughout B.C. Once in production, LNG facilities in northern B.C. will create an unprecedented volume of goods through our northern ports. B.C. continues to be Canada’s Pacific Gateway to emerging markets in Asia.

Tourism

Tourism is a major economic driver in B.C., generating $13.4 billion in revenue in 2011 and employing one in fifteen British Columbians – representing 18,000 businesses and 126,000 people. B.C.’s Northern region is a prime tourist destination, providing skiing, fishing, wildlife viewing, world class camping, hiking and mountaineering, art galleries, brewery, distillery and cidery tours, golf and many more activities.

B.C. continues to support the tourism industry by developing programs to help first nations tourism entrepreneurs implement their ideas, facilitating an increase in international carriers at airports and investing in road infrastructure to allow for easier travel to, and within the northern regions.

General

The British Columbia Major Project Inventory indicates that over two-thirds of the projects being proposed relating to mining, oil and gas extraction and manufacturing are located in the North.

In 2005, the Province provided $185 million to establish the Northern Development Initiative Trust. The Trust’s mandate is to be a catalyst for strategic economic development at the local and regional levels to achieve its mission, of helping northern BC communities create and sustain world-class industries and diversified economies.

Contacts

British Columbia

Ministry of Jobs, Tourism and Skills Training and Minister Responsible for Labour
Greg Goodwin - Greg.Goodwin@gov.bc.ca