B.C. had Canada’s strongest economic growth in 2016: StatsCan

Retail trade increased for all store types across British Columbia last year, according to StatsCan | Shutterstock

British Columbia’s gross domestic product increased 3.7% in 2016, Statistics Canada announced May 1, giving it the highest economic growth in the country last year.

The increase was led by a 3.5% increase in service-producing industries, but the goods-producing sector also grew 4.6%.

Strong demand in the Lower Mainland housing market drove a 17% jump in residential construction last year. This supported an increase in offices for real estate agents and insurance carriers.

The retail sector increased 5.4%, with all store types seeing growth. Transportation and warehousing grew 5.7%, and electric power generation, transmission and distribution increased 4.7%.

Mining, quarrying and oil and gas extraction saw 3.3% growth. A major expansion at Rio Tinto’s Kitimat smelter, which was completed in 2015, contributed to a jump in aluminum production that was part of an overall 5.8% increase in manufacturing output.

Not all sectors saw advances in 2016. Engineering construction fell 9.1%, pushed downward by a 30% drop in oil and gas engineering construction relating to low oil and natural gas prices. There was also a drop in support activities for mining and oil and gas extraction.

Last year’s GDP increase follows a 3.1% gain in 2015, giving B.C. Canada’s strongest economic two years in a row.