Vernon continues to blast findings of economic report

The Conference Board of Canada says the community's economy has contracted for five consecutive years

Kevin Poole

Kevin Poole

The City of Vernon insists the local economy isn’t as bad as a national study suggests.

Monday’s council meeting provided an opportunity for officials to once again question a Conference Board of Canada report that states Vernon’s economy has contracted for five consecutive years.

“I don’t see it as valid,” said Kevin Poole, economic development manager.

According to the Conference Board of Canada, Vernon’s total gross domestic product went from $2.1 million in 2005 to $1.5 million in 2012.

However, Poole says GDP is generally only calculated for nations and provinces and not communities because the sample size is too small.

The Conference Board also states Vernon’s total jobs declined from 31,300 in 2005 to 19,000 in 2012.

Poole says the labour force data is also based on too small of a sample size.

“We’ve reached out to other statistical agencies to comment on the validity of this,” said Poole of the Conference Board report, adding that more relevant economic factors would have been building permits, housing starts and demographics.

A frustration for Poole is the city has not seen the report and has only been advised of its content by the media.

“The fee is close to $4,000 to get a copy of the report,” he said.

The fact that the Conference Board has not made access to the document widespread also concerns Mayor Rob Sawatzky.

“It’s a real shame that an organization would release such a study to the press without releasing its contents to the community involved,” he said, adding that Vernon’s economy has endured the recession.

“Nothing in the data supports their conclusions. From 2006 to now, there has been an average of 35,000-square-feet of new buildings downtown.”