British Columbia's Resource Sectors are the Foundation of a Diversified Economy

  • September 18, 2013

By Greg D'Avignon

As published online with the Coast Forest Products Association

A review of BC Business Magazine’s Top 100 list of British Columbia companies by revenue for 2012 reveals the province’s economic mosaic, showcasing diverse organizations such as Telus, HSBC Bank Canada and Finning International. It also reveals the extent to which the foundation for British Columbia’s economic prosperity is our natural resource sector. More than 20 of the top 50 private sector companies are directly involved in mining, forestry or natural gas, and there are dozens more throughout the list which act as service providers to these core industrial sectors.

Resource companies operate in all corners of our province, employing professionals and skilled employees in communities from Nanaimo to Fernie to Williams Lake and Prince Rupert. And yet, most of these enterprises base their main corporate offices in Metro Vancouver.

The economic activities of enterprises such as International Forest Products Ltd. and TimberWest Forest Corp make an important contribution to the economic health of the lower mainland through direct employment, supplier contracts (including accountants and legal services), and property taxes paid on office space. This is in addition to the revenues they generate for the provincial and federal governments. In fact, it is our natural resource sectors that supported British Columbia’s economy during the 2008-09 global economic downturn by finding new and expanding in recently developed markets. .

British Columbia is home to many successful technology, film and tourism enterprises and it is important that we continue to encourage the growth of non-traditional industries. However, we cannot ignore the critical role of well-established industries like forestry and mining in sustaining the local corporate economy and the tax base that depend on it. BC’s natural resource sectors, and the related suppliers and professional service firms that support them, extract and make possible the safe and sustainable production of materials that are used in new technology and the green sectors that the City of Vancouver and other municipalities are looking to foster.

British Columbia is a resource province that can and does facilitate technology, green economies and the future prosperity of our communities. It is a strength we should all be celebrating and maximizing to the benefit of BC and the next generation.