Windsor Star

Western cities hot, east is not

Ont. municipali­ties losing ground fast

- BY ERIC BEAUCHESNE CANWEST NEWS SERVICE OTTAWA Resource boom

It’s the best of times and the worst of times for Canadian cities, depending on where they’re located, according to an economic think-tank that expects cities in Saskatchew­an will enjoy their strongest growth, and Ontario cities their weakest performanc­e, in more than a decade.

Western Canadian cities take the top seven spots in the Conference Board of Canada’s latest Metropolit­an Outlook, released Monday, led by Saskatoon and then Regina.

“Both Saskatoon and Regina are on track to post their strongest rates of economic growth since 1997, and Saskatoon will lead Canadian metropolit­an areas in economic growth for the second consecutiv­e year,” said Mario Lefebvre, the Conference Board’s director for municipal studies.

After growing by 4.1 per cent in 2007, Saskatoon’s inflation adjusted economic output is projected to expand by an even faster rate of 5.2 per cent in 2008, it said, noting the city is a key regional centre for the province’s booming resource sector.

The resource boom is also lifting economic growth in Regina, which is expected to reach 4.1 per cent this year, the most since 1997, it said, noting that almost 3,000 people moved to the provincial capital in 2007, and projecting net migration will remain positive over the next few years, helping to fuel robust domestic demand.

Growth in Calgary is forecast to slow to 3.2 per cent and in Edmonton to 3.1 per cent, which is a modest pace by their standards, the board said. Between 2009 and 2012, Calgary and Edmonton are expected to regain first and second place in average annual growth.

Montreal is expected to suffer its weakest growth in half a decade at 1.7 per cent, as its manufactur­ing sector struggles despite strength in the aerospace sector, and in its constructi­on and services industries.

Toronto’s manufactur­ing sector is also expected to fall again this year, offsetting solid constructi­on activity and domestic demand, and limiting growth in its giant diversifie­d economy to an anemic 1.3 per cent

Hamilton, meanwhile, will post the weakest growth of the cities covered in the latest outlook at 0.3 per cent, its worst performanc­e since the early 1990s.

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