This week a State of the North report was released by the Northern Development Initiative Trust (NDIT) and it’s a highly recommended read for anyone with an interest in our economy (see A3).
Some of the big takeaways include that 87 per cent of northern B.C. businesses have fewer than 20 employees and 75 per cent have fewer than 10, that 57 per cent of the municipal tax base in the region is commercial and industrial and that northern B.C. remains a vastly more affordable place to live.
However, while the report states it’s not designed to answer how much northern B.C. contributes to B.C.’s economy as a whole, it does note that on a 10-year average roughly 78 per cent of the total value of B.C.’s annual exports, or, on an annual basis, somewhere between $24 and $30 billion. Rural B.C. includes areas outside of northern B.C. and it doesn’t account for service data.
“Still, it’s clear that without rural B.C. and Northern B.C. as the largest part of it, B.C. would suffer from an incredible trade deficit,” according to the report.
This is something well worth keeping in mind for those in Victoria and not something that would be in any way diminished should rural B.C.’s weight in the provincial parliament be potentially reduced as a result of possible electoral reform.
Due to the composition of B.C.’s exports, regardless of what the hot-button topics may be for the vote-rich urban areas, rural B.C.’s economic prosperity should have an oversized urgency.
The report may also shed some further light on recurring issues in the area.
According to the report, 23 per cent of 100 Mile House’s tax burden is from residential. It doesn’t require much of a stretch of the imagination to come to the conclusion that that may play a role in why past pool attempts in the South Cariboo have been unsuccessful, while similar attempts, such as in Vanderhoof where the residential tax burden is 41 per cent, have been successful (notwithstanding outlying areas).
The average residential tax burden in Northern B.C. was 38 percent.
While those working on the South Cariboo Rec Centre expansion and financing plan are undoubtedly already aware of the local tax situation, it could also be bad news for that project.
This report by the NDIT is one of the most valuable pieces of information made available in recent memory for understanding, not only our importance provincially but also the direction of local issues.