December 2019 - January 2020 Best Cities for Work in B.C.

With a mission to inform, empower, celebrate and advocate for British Columbia's current and aspiring business leaders, BCBusiness go behind the headlines and bring readers face to face with the key issues and people driving business in B.C.

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DECEMBER/JANUARY 2020 BCBUSINESS 51 now, the big issue for them is still the mountain pine beetle." As our Best Cities for Work in B.C. ranking (p.29) shows, Vancou- ver Island is benefiting from population growth. "The aging boom- ers are moving into these areas, and to some extent you will see the younger demographics going there for more affordable housing as well," Yu says. For continued economic strength, look to the Lower Mainland, the centre of the province's tech and service sectors. In Canada and the U.S., a few urban regions are driving innovation and the shift to a digital economy, Finlayson says. "Structurally, in my view, we're going to be more and more dominated by what I call the southwestern quadrant of British Colum- bia." Not that he's writing off the rest of the province: "If I was running the show, I'd be looking at aggressively try- ing to encourage immigrants to settle somewhere other than Metro Vancouver." The cost of doing business With uncertainty in the air as a new Liberal federal minority govern- ment starts its mandate—and the province gears up for a provincial election in less than two years—Litwin thinks the big conversation for B.C. in 2020 will be about prosperity. If you define prosperity as a situation where residents can get well-paying jobs and business growth provides tax revenue for better social services, the biggest challenge is increasing business costs and regulations, he says. "There's a municipal, provincial and federal dimension to it," Litwin explains, flagging property tax, the NDP's carbon and employer health taxes, and higher Canada Pension Plan contribu- tions. "We're a have province; we've got an innovative business community. But if we can work with government to talk about how to create a more competitive marketplace for us, we can weather more storms." Overall, provincial and federal taxes aren't bad, but there are some oddities in their design, Finlayson says. Unlike most industrial countries, Canada has tiered rates: in B.C., for example, provincial corporate income tax starts at 2 percent—then surges sixfold when annual revenue hits $500,000. To avoid such a jump, the BCBC has recommended that the province and Ottawa move to three or four rates. In Metro Vancouver and beyond, high housing costs and lack of child-care spaces affect companies more than some of the new taxes by making it hard to attract employees, the CCPA's Ivanova says. Regional disparity is also high on her list of concerns, given mounting forestry job losses and a potential global recession, which would hurt rural communities by hammering commodities mar- kets. "If we can't get a handle on that, the disparities between urban and rural B.C. can have significant implications." BCBUSINESS.CA BUSINESS VIEWS (From left) Panellists Jock Finlayson, Erica McGuinness and Pete Molenaar

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