Editorial: NDIT report a must-read

True North Strong and Free plays important role in provincial economy

Last week, the Northern Development Initiative Trust (NDIT) released its State of the North report, and it is a great read for anyone who wants to their their finger on the pulse on the economy of northern British Columbia.

READ MORE: State of the North report provides interesting information

Why is it important to release a report on the state of the economy?

“The report provides us with the economic context we need to better inform our own decisions, as well as those of our communities, businesses and non-profits, so that together we can build a strong north,” says NDIT chief economic officer Joel McKay.

This report gives us a snapshot of the northern B.C. economy, but it also tells us where we were a decade ago, so we can see trends, where major changes happened and how we’re recovering from setbacks.

Everyone wants to know what the future holds and this report helps us make some pretty good guesstimates.

To no one’s surprise, the region depends heavily on the forestry, oil and gas, mining and agriculture industries as employers.

When it comes to municipal property tax base, 57 per cent of taxes are commercial and industrial.

Northern B.C.’s wealth, growth and quality of life depends greatly on the resource-extraction industries.

The key here is for municipal governments to control the purse strings so there is a slow, steady and well-thought-out growth in our communities, so residential taxpayers aren’t hammered by the boom-and-bust problems typically experienced in resource-extraction communities.

The commercial and industrial sectors also have to be careful about the boom-and-bust issues, and they have been making great strides to adapt to a changing landscape, especially following the commodity price collapse of 2014.

According to the State of the North report, the economy has stabilized as northern B.C. has seen growth through mining development, oil-and-gas exploration and improvement in the forestry sector.

However, the Giant 3 have been taking some economic hits in the past four years with the cancellations of some mega projects, such as the Northern Gateway Pipeline, and the ongoing softwood lumber dispute with the United States.

While the report expects mining and gas-and-oil exploration to make gains in the coming years, forestry is expected to decline slightly.

However, the forest industry is proving to be resilient and adaptable, and is continually looking for new markets and new products to keep its stakeholders happy.

The report on the demographic make-up of the area is detailed and enlightening, which makes it a must-read for anyone making important decisions in the near future.

Ken Alexander

Quesnel Cariboo Observer