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CanaData West Conference peers into the future

Russell Hixson
CanaData West Conference peers into the future

The first ever CanaData West Conference was held recently in downtown Vancouver and featured four presentations that covered everything from LNG investment to Vancouver real estate.

More than 50 delegates attended the Oct. 23 economic forecasting event for the construction industry.

"The conference provided our audience with the data we promised, outlined potential opportunities and shed light on where the industry  is heading for Canada and specifically the west," said John Richardson, director of CMD’s Western Canada operations.

The event stems from the annual CanaData conference held each year in Toronto. CanaData is in its 29th year and brings together the industry’s leading minds to discuss trends, economic indicators, activity rankings and opportunities.

The CanaData West Conference follows a similar theme, but is tailored for the B.C. market.

It is the first of several more CanaData conferences that organizer Construction Market Data (CMD) hopes to establish in the coming years.

"We’ve built a solid foundation for next year and beyond. All speakers added value and provided solid data in their respective fields," Richardson said.

"You walked away educated, informed and excited about the opportunities that lie ahead."

Senior Fraser Institute Fellow Mark Milke, who has a PhD in political philosophy and international relations, gave a keynote address that discussed vast opportunities with some challenges in Asian markets and in B.C.

Milke noted that China’s economy is galloping ahead, but certain regions suffer from corruption that prevents stability.

In B.C., Aboriginal land claims that reinforce collective ownership and those who "oppose everything" stand in the way of major energy and infrastructure projects, Milke said.

Alex Carrick, the chief economist for CanaData, discussed the rising economy of the U.S. and parts of Africa, as China slows and Europe underperforms.

One of Carrick’s main points about B.C. is the importance of leveraging our natural resources to boost prosperity.

To get to the "green utopia" we all want, we need cleaner burning natural gas and electricity. And, he added, prosperous countries can afford to invest in green technology.

B.C. Real Estate Association chief economist Cameron Muir discussed Canada’s and Vancouver’s housing markets.

He explained that in many areas of the housing market he is seeing flat lines.

He also debunked media coverage predicting a housing crash or that foreign investment is driving costs up, calling it "nonsense."

Ryan Berlin – an economist, demographer and director at Urban Futures – discussed the country’s changing population.

He said the country is moving into one of its great demographic changes as baby boomers retire, parents have fewer children and life expectancy increases.

He said as labour becomes more competitive, small businesses will have to get more creative to attract talent. But he emphasized that "demography isn’t destiny."

Mark Betteridge, CEO of Discovery Parks, talked about the massive opportunity B.C. has to capture high tech investment and how to get it.

He explained that strong leaders, collaboration, access to capital, access to markets and well planned neighbourhoods are part of getting high tech companies to choose B.C.

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