March 19, 2023
There is no question that the #Seattle region is an economic powerhouse like no other urban area in the Pacific Northwest.
After all, it is the headquarters of global giants Microsoft, Boeing, Amazon, Starbucks, Costco, Expedia, and Alaska Airlines. Within the Seattle region, these firms collectively employ hundreds of thousands of people in well-paying positions, providing the area with ample disposable income. And while Seattle’s strengths also entail tourism, driven by its breadth of attractions, arts, culture, natural surroundings, history, and business travel, it has lagged behind its major northern neighbour on certain major components of tourism-supporting infrastructure — up until very recently.
Seattle is increasingly making moves that set itself up to better compete against the same strengths that bring tourists and other visitors to Vancouver. These limited strengths for Vancouver are absolutely vital for driving tourism given that the region lacks the same breadth of attractions offered by Seattle.
In March 2022, Seattle-Tacoma International Airport (SEA) completed a transformative US$1 billion international terminal building expansion on a scope as significant as YVR’s modernization in 1996. With the opening of the new terminal, SEA has soared in Skytrax’s global rankings, earning a top-place finish for North America for two straight years. SEA’s recent terminal expansion overhauled its international terminal to improve connections between international flights and SEA’s domestic flights. The number of international gates has been nearly doubled, a new customs hall has been built, and the number of international bag claim carousels has also almost doubled. Overall, SEA’s capacity to process international passengers has more than doubled from 1,200 passengers per hour to 2,600 passengers per hour.
Between 2015 and 2018, Seattle added about 3,200 rooms, including 2,550 new rooms in downtown Seattle between 2017 and 2018 — a 21% increase to over 14,000 rooms. This tally includes the 2018-built, 45-storey Hyatt Regency Seattle with 1,260 rooms, making it the largest hotel in Washington State. Seattle also now has a much larger modern convention centre to attract and compete with Vancouver for meetings, conferences, conventions, and events.
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March 19, 2023
A port city on B.C.'s northwest coast is getting some help for its aging water system. On Friday, Premier David Eby announced his government is giving Prince Rupert, home to about 14,000 residents, $65 million to replace sections of the city's water distribution system.
"Everyone in the community deserves a reliable system of drinking water, it's a basic, but for Prince Rupert residents, that hasn't always been the case," Eby said. "Much of the city's infrastructure is aging and in need of renewal."
The funding, through the Critical Community Infrastructure Fund, is in addition to the $1-billion Growing Communities Fund announced this month, which was given to municipalities and districts to support infrastructure and amenities needs, the province said in a statement.
The province said Prince Rupert has been seeing an increasing amount of water main breaks — referring to the main line in the water supply — and service disruptions, referencing a line break in December, which it said threatened the community's water supply. Local officials declared a state of emergency on Dec. 17, 2022, after several water main breaks that week. At the time, the mayor said much of the pipes are more than 100 years old, and because the ground they are in has little soil, it causes them to shift, making them more susceptible to damage.
The community has also had to boil water on multiple occasions over the past few years, and some advisories have lasted months. Prince Rupert has around $600 million in municipal debt, with half of that due to water infrastructure, including a dam project the city hopes would reduce the number of boil advisories it's been seeing.
Mayor Herb Pond said the $65-million funding is the largest investment the province has made in the city.
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March 19, 2023
The world’s largest seaweed mass is entering the Gulf of Mexico and expected to float toward beaches along Florida and the Gulf as tourist season starts.
Tracts of sodden seaweed emitting a foul smell have already begun washing up like a bad omen on southern Florida beaches. In Mexico’s Riviera Maya, hundreds of tons of the algae has piled up along the beaches as the mass moves westward between the Yucatan and Cuba. The annual Atlantic sargassum belt grew to previously unseen proportions this year, spanning 5,500 miles, twice the width of the United States, and weighing nearly 13 tons.
The island-like expanse is carried about the Atlantic by small buoyant bladders, called pneumatocysts, which resemble berries and are filled with oxygen. When they’re not menacing beaches, the huge rafts of rootless sargassum serve a vital ecological purpose, providing food, refuge and breeding grounds to birds, shrimp, fish and crab in the North Atlantic.
The sargassum can also impede boaters, slowing down their vessels and causing damage as it gets sucked into the intake and becomes entangles on propellers.Studies tracking sargassum have shown blooms starting off the northern coast of Brazil flourish as it’s fed nutrient-rich runoff from the Amazon and the Congo rivers due to deforestation and fertilizer use.
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February 26, 2023
The industry is experiencing a 79% increase in the value of current projects from five years ago, and a 17% increase from pre-pandemic levels, even as labour shortages continue, and cost of goods are at all-time highs.
Annual construction wages have seen a significant rise of 14% since 2015 to $66,591, reflecting an 8% increase since pre-pandemic levels alone. Nearly 100% of workers are working full time, 84% year-round, and half are earning a higher wage than last year.
The construction industry’s contribution to BC’s GDP is up a whopping 22%, growing from $18.8BN in 2017 to $23BN today, and it remains the #1 employer in BC’s goods sector, with 215,133 British Columbians relying directly on construction for a paycheque.
At least 17% of the projected skills gap has been filled by tradeswomen, who are now 5.7% of the skilled workforce and 5.5x more likely to recommend the trades as a career path.
September 13, 2022
Evo Car Share is finally expanding to Surrey, but it will be operating under a different service model than its free-floating model of home zones in Vancouver and Victoria.
The BCAA-owned and operated car share service announced today it has launched Evo Return in Surrey City Centre. Under Evo Return, users can book up to 30 days in advance of their trips and they are required to pick up and return the vehicle to the same parking location.
This service is starting as a pilot project, with Evo Return cars found at two SkyTrain stations — five cars at Surrey City Centre Station, and another five cars at King George Station. All vehicles are hybrids and they can be booked with the app. The rates are based on Evo’s regular minute, hour, or daily rates.