February 27, 2010
By Dr. Roslyn Kunin
BC Business Columnist
VANCOUVER, BC, Feb. 27, 2010/ Troy Media/ — Shh, talk softly. March is coming into Vancouver not like a lion or a lamb, but with a major hangover from the biggest and best party that the Vancouver-Whistler area has seen in a very long time.
And a great party it was in spite of the shadow of a pre-Games tragic accident and in spite of best efforts of certain negative media abroad and certain nay-sayers at home. We won gold (lots of it) on Canadian soil. Smart alecs are saying that it really was soil and not snow on which we got those medals, but TV cameras proved that we did have snow falling from the sky in Whistler.
We attracted the world and gave them a good time. We completely destroyed the image of Canadians as mousey, non-flag wavers. Any Olympic gathering, even the street scenes, presented a sea of red as Canadians proudly wore their colour (red) and their maple leaf on their sleeves, their faces and just about every other part of their anatomy. We sang our anthem, O Canada, with gusto unless we were too choked up by our rising flag and our hard won medals to do so.
What next for BC?
The Olympics will soon be over. The torch will soon be extinguished. The up-coming Paralympic Games, in spite of the heroism of the athletes they will showcase, will be much quieter and much less noticed. So what will be happening in British Columbia?
It won’t be doom and gloom. Just as the pre-Olympic doomsters erred when they said we could not pull off the Games, so the post-Olympic doomsayers are wrong when they say that the Games will be followed by depression and economic disaster. Two sectors are looking especially good – even more so after the exposure of the Games than they were before. These are tourism and housing.
People who came and people who saw BC on television were amazed at our climate (blossoms in February) and our beauty (the Sea to Sky highway between Vancouver and Whistler). Canadians watching the Games in the US were asked by their American friends why they had never been told how great BC was so they could plan a visit. The Canada Line from the airport, the Sea to Sky highway, the new expanded Convention Centre(now largely booked for the next five years) make us even more attractive to tourists.
Of course, Canadians already know that this part of Canada is a great place to live which is a why our house prices almost never go down, but tend to creep up even when times are slow. Now many more people know and like southwest BC. Throughout the Games, advertisements reminded them that they, too, could live here with the purchase of a small piece of real estate. And this real estate does not even seem too expensive if you are coming from a major city in Europe or Asia or even the United States. Along with tourism, expect the residential housing sector to be on the rise.
Federal and BC budgets next week
Much of the BC economy was not directly affected by the Games. The resource sectors will continue on as they were before. The forest sector will remain challenged by the weak US market and by the fact that it is not yet sufficiently diversified into other markets such as Asia. Energy and mineral resources will continue to benefit from the on-going global growth that gives them value.
Consumers will continue buy the goods and services we all need especially since in BC we enjoy a lower than national unemployment rate and, thus, a bit more income security.
Governments, both federal and BC, are putting the final touches to the budgets they will release next week. They will likely remain committed to any spending already planned and are unlikely to significantly change tax levels. However, neither government is in a position to announce major new spending at this time.
For Vancouver and environs, the party is over. It’s back to the work-a-day world. And that world is in pretty good shape.
Roslyn Kunin is Director of the BC office for the Canada West Foundation.
Channels: Trail Daily Times, March 1, the Vancouver Province, March 3, Canada Free Press, March 4, the Pembroke Daily Observer, March 6, 2010