This year’s CanaData West Construction Industry Forecast Conference intends to make some sense of the world’s uncertainty with political experts, economists and data crunchers.
"Those who attend are going to know what all the issues are," said Alex Carrick, chief economist for ConstructConnect, the conference‘s organizer. "You have got to be informed. The person who will come out ahead on all this is the one who is most informed and knows what they have to watch for, and who knows the key things that will drive construction activity."
Carrick, who will be speaking at the Oct. 11 conference, explained that with massive political shifts and accelerating technology, uncertainty and transition are two of the main themes he expects to be explored.
In B.C., the new NDP government has changed course, questioning many of the province’s large construction projects like the Site C Dam and the Trans Mountain Pipeline Expansion.
"There are a number of things jeopardizing the future prosperity of the province," Carrick said.
He added with several promising liquefied natural gas (LNG) projects put on the backburner, the province’s hopes of developing an LNG industry are also in question.
In terms of transition, Carrick explained that provinces like B.C. are trying to diversify their economies by shifting away from resources and embracing other industries like technology, film and tourism. He also said the shift away from brick and mortar stores in retail to more online shopping could impact construction.
And of course, Carrick noted that Trump is also throwing a massive amount of uncertainty into the relationship between the U.S. and Canada. This makes NAFTA, the softwood lumber negotiations and other issues up in the air.
"These are incredibly confusing times," said Carrick. "These are particularly uncertain times."
The conference will feature speaker Vaughn Palmer, an award-winning journalist and the Vancouver Sun’s provincial political columnist.
His keynote is titled, Topsy-Turvy Days on the B.C. Economic and Political Scene.
In addition to being a columnist, Vaughn hosts the weekly program Voice of BC on Shaw TV and is a regular commentator on radio station CKNW in Vancouver and on KUOW, the National Public Radio station in Seattle.
Attendees will also hear from Patricia Mohr, the former vice-president of economics and a commodity market specialist at Scotiabank’s executive offices in Toronto. Mohr will discuss the recovery of commodity prices and the impact that could have on B.C.
Mohr developed the ‘Scotiabank Commodity Price Index,’ the first index designed to measure price trends for Canadian commodities in export markets.
Mario Canseco, vice-president of public affairs for Insights West, a market research company, will present his thoughts and research on the construction industry. Canseco is the company’s spokesperson for political and sociological issues and surveys.
Mark Casaletto, president of ConstructConnect Canada, will present on how digital technology is revolutionizing the construction industry.
Attendees will also hear the insights of Bryan Yu, a deputy chief economist for Central 1 Credit Union, the umbrella organization for the credit union system in B.C. and Ontario. Yu will give an overview of the B.C. economy.
Yu was an economist with the B.C. Real Estate Association and Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation. He is a director for the Canadian Association of Business Economists.
The conference will be held at the Terminal City Club in downtown Vancouver. Those interested in attending can visit canadata.com/west.html.