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Spending on major projects hits record high in Atlantic Canada, report says

HALIFAX - Investment in major projects is at an all-time high in Atlantic Canada but development in the future remains uncertain, a think-tank says.

The Atlantic Provinces Economic Council released its annual inventory Monday of major projects in various stages of development in the region.

It said the 439 projects are worth a record $122 billion in investment, up seven per cent over last year.

The council credits the rise in total inventory value with an increase in the number of proposed projects in Nova Scotia. It said the province's total inventory value has surpassed that of Newfoundland and Labrador for the first time since the mid-1980s.

Current-year spending on major projects in the region is also on the rise, up about eight per cent to a record $15 billion, with Newfoundland and Labrador leading the pack. Spending in that province is up 10 per cent over last year to $9.8 billion, mostly due to the Muskrat Falls hydroelectric project and offshore developments.

The council said growth in the region this year has been aided by projects such as the Maritime Link, the proposed Kami iron ore mine in Labrador and new wind farms in Nova Scotia.

But it warns investment is expected to decline after next year as some projects, including the Hebron offshore oil site, wind down.

"The big question is whether proposed LNG export projects, the Energy East pipeline or new offshore or mining projects will be developed to keep investment strong later in the decade," Patrick Brannon, the council's director of major projects, said in a news release.

Nova Scotia and New Brunswick saw growth this year of 10 per cent to $3.4 billion and two per cent to $1.7 billion respectively, while spending in Prince Edward Island fell 20 per cent to $234 million.

The council said the drop in P.E.I. is due to the completion of a $60-million wind farm project last year.

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