St. John's To Lead Canadian Economic Growth In 2013: Conference Board

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ST JOHNS ECONOMY BOOMTOWN
Colourful houses in St. John's. The economy of Newfoundland's capital is projected to grow a whopping 5 per cent this year. (Getty Images) | Getty

What a difference oil can make.

St. John’s, Newfoundland, will be Canada’s economic winner for 2013, according to a new report from the Conference Board of Canada, and it's pretty much all thanks to black gold. (Yes, you read that correctly — St. John’s.)

The capital of the province often thought of as an economic basket-case will soar to 5 per cent growth this year, on the strength of Newfoundland’s booming offshore oil industry, the Board said in its latest metropolitan outlook.

That places St. John’s well ahead of Alberta’s resource-rich cities, with Calgary projected to grow 3.3 per cent and Edmonton 3.2 per cent this year, according to an earlier report from the Conference Board.

Newfoundland overall is expected to do even better than St. John's itself. The Conference Board projected in June the province would grow 6.1 per cent this year, on the strength of a 12.5-per-cent boom in oil production. That would make it the fastest-growing province in Canada this year.

Canada's fastest-growing provinces for 2013
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The report had some good news for some of Canada’s smaller cities that have suffered from a slowdown in manufacturing in recent years. Some southern Ontario cities that struggled with shuttered plants will see reasonably strong growth numbers on the back of a strong construction sector, the Conference Board said.

Oshawa, Ont., for instance, which has struggled through the closure of GM plants, will see a respectable two-per-cent growth rate this year, thanks to construction activity.

But the report had some bad news for Quebec’s mid-sized cities, which will suffer from weak investment and government spending cuts. The economy of Trois-Rivieres will have it worst of all, expected to shrink 2.4 per cent thanks largely to the shutdown of the Gentilly-2 nuclear reactor.