Editorial — Langley economy is on edge

Langley Township economic indicators are decidedly mixed, with some good and some bad.

Economic indicators in Langley Township for the first four months of 2013 give a pretty good idea why so many people who voted in the recent provincial election were concerned about the economy.

The resounding BC Liberal win at the polls was attributed by many to Premier Christy Clark’s relentless focus on the economy and the need of the next provincial government to promote economic development and push for job creation.

In Langley Township, there are some positive signs. But there are other troubling ones.

Here are some of the signs. The industrial vacancy rate is down, meaning more businesses are occupying space and creating jobs. Non-residential building construction in the Metro region is up two per cent, led by government and institutional construction, but commercial development is also strong and total non-residential construction is at its highest rate in more than three years.

Statistics Canada says that prices are actually falling and that there is no inflation in the Metro Vancouver area over the past year. This number is skewed by sharp rises and falls in gasoline prices.

Overall building permit values in the Township are up 23 per cent when compared to the first four months of 2012. Total housing starts are down, however, by 4.6 per cent.

Resale of existing dwellings is down substantially in both the City and Township, by 15.5 per cent, with townhouse sales falling the most sharply, by 23.5 per cent.

Benchmark prices for housing units are down for apartments and townhouses, but are actually up two per cent for single family dwellings.

Visitors to the Tourism Langley visitor information centre are down 14.8 per cent over the same period last year, and perhaps even more telling, the hotel tax collected in the Township in January and February is down 42.3 per cent over the first two months of 2012. The amounts of  tax collected each month, in December, 2012 and January and February of this year, were at the lowest levels in the past year.

Many individuals and businesses in Langley have felt the pinch in the past year, and the decline in visitors using hotel rooms shows that the malaise extends to people from other areas as well.

The local, provincial and national economies have plenty of challenges ahead of them.

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