OTTAWA - The Olympic effect will give Vancouver's economy enough of a boost to make it the top economic performer among Canadian cities this year, according to a report Wednesday by the Conference Board of Canada.

The Conference Board forecast that Canada's third-largest city will see economic growth leap by 4.5 per cent this year, after shrinking 1.8 per cent in 2009.

Vancouver's gold-medal performance is expected to easily better that of Toronto, projected to post the second-best performance with 3.5 per cent growth in 2010, followed by Kitchener, Ont, forecast to claim the bronze with 3.3 per cent growth.

In addition to the boost provided by the Olympic Winter Games, housing construction and consumer spending are forecast to rebound strongly in Vancouver, the think-tank said.

The Bank of Canada has projected that nationally, Canada's gross domestic product will advance by 2.9 per cent this year after contracting by 2.5 per cent in 2009.

Last year, only Halifax, Saint John, N.B., Winnipeg and Regina managed to avoid the recession by posting positive growth, the Conference Board says.

Among the hardest hit was auto-dependent Windsor, Ont., where the economy contracted by six per cent, more than twice the national average.

This year most Canadian cities, including Windsor, will be on the rebound, although to varying degrees. Windsor's economy is expected to advance 2.6 per cent, the Conference Board said.

Four municipalities - Ottawa-Gatineau, Oshawa, Saskatoon and Edmonton - will post growth of 3.2 per cent.

Meanwhile, Abbotsford, B.C., is expected to grow by 3.1 per cent and Calgary and Hamilton, Ont., are slated to advance by three per cent.

Montreal and Quebec City are forecast to have a gross domestic product rebound of 2.5 per cent and 2.6 per cent respectively.

Thunder Bay's economy, which has declined for four consecutive years, is expected to lag in growth among the 27 municipalities studied, with a meagre a 0.8 per cent advance.

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