A new passenger and freight rail line would have the potential to stimulate economic growth in communities on Vancouver Island, says the chairman of the Cowichan Valley Regional District.
“When you bring something like a rail corridor back to life and people can see that it is long term and that the investment is long term, you spur all kinds of economic growth around that corridor as well,” Ladysmith Mayor Aaron Stone said Friday. “The biggest challenge is to ensure that we never lose that corridor.”
A new consultant’s report prepared for the province sets out three levels of service, based on upgrading the Island Rail Corridor. Estimated costs range from $326 million to $729 million for freight and passenger service between Victoria and Courtenay and for a leg that runs to Port Alberni. A commuter service between Langford and Victoria has an estimated price tag of $595 million.
Proponents say those costs could be shaved and the system could be rolled out over many years rather than spending that much money at once.
Others fear there is not enough demand to make it economically viable and taxpayer money would be wasted on an expensive system.
The old E and N rail line was last used to carry passengers in 2011. It ended due to concerns about the condition of the tracks.
Stone said now that the baseline report on the condition of the system has been completed, it’s time to do a business-case analysis of the future of transportation in coming decades.
It could look at everything from migration patterns to Vancouver Island to the potential for savings in infrastructure-maintenance costs from moving freight off trucks and onto rail.
Within the Cowichan Valley Regional District, Stone sees opportunities for housing development as well as a stronger inter-regional economy based on the ability to move goods and services and serve manufacturing operations.
Stone and Nanaimo Mayor Leonard Krog see potential for rail to carry cargo coming in and out of Port Alberni’s deep-sea port, with the line linked to Nanaimo. From there, goods could be shipped to and from the mainland.
Krog is optimistic about the value and future of rail on Vancouver Island.
While the cost is daunting, “you don’t have to build it in a day or a year,” he said — rebuilding the system and getting it up and running in segments is a more logical approach.
“We have just found billions and billions of dollars to support people through a tough time. We can find a few hundred million to ensure that we have the rail.”
A key advantage is that the corridor exists in the first place, he said. “It is an absolutely horrendous undertaking to create a rail system through a populated area. We have it in place — it is irreplaceable,” Krog said.
“You’re not going to do this again.”
Krog favours a multi-use plan for the corridor. Depending on the width available along the route, a rail system could be installed with space allocated for other uses alongside. That could include cyclists and walkers, who already use the corridor regularly.
Parksville Mayor Ed Mayne said some kind of commuter-rail system is needed between Langford and Victoria, but that’s all. He’s not in favour of a rail system to Courtenay, saying there is not enough demand, including freight, to justify the cost.
“There’s no way that it can be economically sustainable, Mayne said. “It’s a romantic idea that people just won’t let go of.”
The future of the corridor has been discussed for many years and nothing has changed, he said.
“That bothers me. We haven’t advanced an inch on this, other than we know that it is way too expensive,” he said.
Courtenay Mayor Bob Wells hasn’t read the new report, but said any benefit from reintroducing rail service to the Comox Valley would likely be through the tourism sector.
“In my mind, there are different business cases for different parts of the Island.”
US services index shows biggest part of economy is stirring – BNNBloomberg.ca
U.S. service providers started to emerge in May from a pandemic-induced tailspin as nationwide lockdowns on business and social interaction began to lift.
The Institute for Supply Management said Wednesday that its non-manufacturing index rose 3.6 points to 45.4.
While the monthly increase was the largest in more than two years, the gauge remained below the 50 mark that shows most service-related industries continued to contract.
The purchasing managers group’s gauge of business activity, which parallels the ISM’s factory production index, jumped 15 points, the most in records dating back to 1997, to a still-tepid 41. Along with an improvement in new orders, the figures are a welcome sign that the economy is stabilizing and will gradually recover from a deep recession.
The median forecast in a Bloomberg survey of economists called for an improvement to 44.4 in the overall non-manufacturing index.
The report, however, also showed the labor market remains severely disrupted by the pandemic. The ISM measure of employment at services, which represent almost 90 per cent of the economy, only rose 1.8 points from the worst reading on record in April.
A Labor Department report on Friday is projected to show another 8 million decline in May payrolls after an unprecedented 20.5 million slump in April. The unemployment rate is forecast to soar to nearly 20 per cent.
A pickup in demand as states lift lockdowns and businesses begin to reopen is needed to help stabilize the job market. The ISM’s report showed an index orders at service providers climbed 9 points to a still-weak 41.9.
Meanwhile, the index of supplier deliveries in non-manufacturing industries fell for the first time in four months, indicating an easing in supply-chain bottlenecks and transportation delays.
Posthaste: Here are three promising data points that show the Canadian economy is ready to rebound – Financial Post
Rays (plural) of good news are piercing through the gloom surrounding the Canadian economy.
And not surprisingly, the country’s resilient housing sector is among the first to report a rebound.
Home sales jumped 53.2 per cent in May month-over-month, suggesting that April’s dramatic plunge in sales may have been the market’s low point.
Another crucial statistic was new listings that rose 47.5 per cent during May, compared to April, according to the Toronto Regional Real Estate Board.
The Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver had also reported on Tuesday that homes sales jumped an unadjusted 34 per cent in May from April, while prices remained flat month-on-month. Benchmark prices rose 2.9 per cent to $1.03 million from a year ago.
Of course, these averages look good as the economy was wallowing in complete uncertainty in April, decimating homes sales and upending market trends.
While home sales in Toronto remain 53.7 per cent lower than May 2019, the decline was less than the 67.1 per cent year-over-year decline reported for April 2020.
“The MLS Home Price Index Composite Benchmark price was virtually unchanged in May 2020 compared to April 2020,” TRREB noted. “On a year-over-year basis, the composite benchmark was up by 9.4 per cent. The average selling price for all home types combined was up by three per cent compared to May 2019 to $863,599. On a seasonally adjusted basis, the average selling price was up by 4.6 per cent month-over-month compared to April 2020.”
A May poll by TRREB showed 27 per cent of the Greater Toronto Area households were looking to purchase a home over the next year, suggesting that sales may improve further in the coming months provided the economy is not adversely hit by new waves of the pandemic.
“As we move toward recovery, the housing sector will be a key driver of growth as consumer confidence increases and more households look to take advantage of very low borrowing costs,” said TRREB CEO John DiMichele.
Investors will also be watching a key metric that indicate where prices are headed next, especially in the pricey Vancouver real estate market.
Sales-to-active listings ratio for May 2020 was 15 per cent in the Vancouver region, detached homes at 13.5 per cent, 18.9 per cent for townhomes, and 14.8 per cent for apartments.
“Generally, analysts say downward pressure on home prices occurs when the ratio dips below 12 per cent for a sustained period, while home prices often experience upward pressure when it surpasses 20 per cent over several months,” noted the Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver.
TRREB is expecting prices to remain stable over time, with some possible uptick.
“With home sales and new listings continuing to trend in unison in May, market conditions remained balanced. This balance was evidenced by year-over-year average price growth slightly above the Bank of Canada’s long-term target for inflation,” said Jason Mercer, TRREB’s chief market analyst. “If current market conditions are sustained during the gradual re-opening of the GTA economy, a moderate pace of year-over-year price growth could continue as we move through the spring and summer months.”
Another glimmer of hope that the economy is returning to some form of normalcy has come from the transportation sector.
The Canadian National Railway Co. said it saw a 4 per cent increase in volumes of good shipped in May compared to April.
While the recovery is expected to be slow, it’s a positive sign after shipments hit bottom last month, the company’s chief financial officer Ghislain Houle said Tuesday at the UBS Global Industrials & Transportation virtual conference, according to Bloomberg.
“I think we’re seeing the light at the end of the tunnel,” Houle said. “Hopefully, it will hold.”
Canadian Pacific Railway Ltd. also said it set a new record for shipping Canadian grain and grain products in May, moving 2.80 million metric tonnes in the month.
Finally, yet another sign consumers are ready to put COVID-19 behind them is the 113,224 new light vehicles sold in Canada in May, a 147 per cent jump over April’s sales, according to a report by DesRosiers Automotive Consultants Inc. Still, May 2020 car sales were down considerably compared to the same period last year.
“It’s a measure of the strange times in which we find ourselves in that a market decline of only 44 per cent can seem like a positive sign. However, following the estimated 74.6 per cent decline in April — which sent Canadian new light vehicle sales levels back in time to roughly the early 1950’s — May’s year over year decline can evoke a touch of cautious optimism as the first tentative shoots of recovery spring up from a badly damaged marketplace,” the consultants said in a statement.
“Of course, the ongoing situation remains in flux and an already trying year could prove to have a few tricks left up its sleeves yet,” the consultants warned.
They are wispy green shoots of recovery — but we will take it.
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PROTESTS GO GLOBAL: Protesters hold placards next to the statue of 19th century British Prime Minister Benjamin Disraeli outside St George’s Hall in Liverpool, northwest England, on June 2, 2020, during demonstration after George Floyd, an unarmed black man who died after a police officer knelt on his neck during an arrest in Minneapolis, USA. – The city of Liverpool lit up their civic buildings in memory of George Floyd on June 2 the death of whom in Minneapolis while in police custody has sparked days of unrest in the US city and beyond. Paul Ellis/AFP via Getty Images
- Bank of Canada to make an interest rate announcement at 10 a.m. ET
- Teck Resources Ltd. hosts a conference call to discuss its 2019 Sustainability Report and strategy
- Quebec’s Treasury Board President Christian Dube and Finance Minister Eric Girard to discuss a bill to mitigate the effects of the pandemic and quickly revive the Quebec economy
- A Papua New Guinea court is set to rule on whether Barrick Gold Corp. can proceed with a legal challenge over the government’s refusal to extend its lease on the Porgera gold mine
- Case management conference for Huawei CFO Meng Wanzhou in Vancouver
- Transport Minister Marc Garneau, CEO of Vancouver Fraser Port Authority Robin Silvester, Robyn McVicker, a vice-president at YVR and Tim Strauss, vice-president of Air Canada cargo take part in Transportation Forum 2020
- Notable Earnings: Stingray Group Inc., Canada Goose Holdings Inc., AutoCanada Inc.
Some of the biggest cannabis players when legalization took effect 20 months ago have successfully held on to their dominant positions, despite a year of bankruptcies, downsizings, revoked licences, executive firings, mass layoffs and a long market selloff, writes Vanmala Subramaniam.
It is hard enough to make money in the stock market, even without the world shut down due to a global pandemic. In fact, studies have proven that the average stock actually goes down. So how does one make money? Well, it’s all in the math. A stock can “only” decline by 100 per cent. But if you have a big winner, you can make 1,000 per cent returns, or more. A winner or two can more than make up for many losers, writes Peter Hodson.
Today’s Posthaste was written by Yadullah Hussain (@Yad_Fpenergy), with files from The Canadian Press, Thomson Reuters and Bloomberg.
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Why the disconnect between stocks and the economy is worrying – CNN
IPOs are back as the stock market soars
The number of black leaders at US companies is still dismal
- Black professionals in 2018 held just 3.3% of all executive or senior leadership roles, which are defined as within two reporting levels of the CEO, according to the US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.
- Among Fortune 500 companies, less than 1% of CEOs are black. Today there are only four, down from a high of six in 2012, according to Fortune.
- Black Enterprise’s 2019 Power in the Boardroom report found that among S&P 500 companies, there were 322 black corporate directors at 307 companies. Of those, 21 were chairmen and lead directors. But the report also found that more than a third of S&P 500 companies did not have any black board members whatsoever.
- The ADP report on US private employment arrives at 8:15 a.m. ET.
- The ISM Non-Manufacturing Index for May, a closely-watched gauge of the US services sector, follows at 10 a.m. ET.
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