Toronto is poised to have one of the fastest-growing city economies in 2010, says a new study from the Conference Board of Canada.

In a report released Wednesday, the private think tank projected 3.5 per cent growth in Toronto’s economy, mainly led by a rebound in construction and manufacturing.

“Manufacturing output is expected to increase in Toronto this year for the first time since 2005,” it said in a news release.

Of the major Canadian cities, only Vancouver is poised to grow faster, with 4.5 per cent growth projected. The main driving factor there is the 2010 Winter Olympics, which begin on Feb. 8. But consumer spending and housing construction are also expected to be strong.

Vancouver’s economy had declined by 1.8 per cent in 2009.

However, Kitchener is predicted to have the third-highest growth, with 3.3 per cent expansion. Better manufacturing prospects are being credited.

The good news in Ontario extends to other cities hard-hit by the recession and longer-term manufacturing woes.

Oshawa is predicted to have 3.2 per cent growth in 2010. “After two years of declining GDP, Oshawa’s economy will benefit from the worldwide recovery now underway, especially in its key auto manufacturing industry. Housing starts are expected to double from 2009 levels, which will boost the construction sector,” it said.

Hamilton has seen its economy shrink since 2007, but three per cent growth is projected for this year.

“The manufacturing and construction downturns in the (Hamilton) CMA appears to have hit bottom — in fact, manufacturing output is expected to grow for the first time in eight years,” it said.

Windsor has taken some of the hardest knocks of any city in the country in the past few years, yet the news is also good there.

“Windsor’s economy can expect to grow for the first time in four years. An improved auto outlook and a combination of higher housing starts and non-residential projects will lead to growth of 2.6 per cent in 2010,” it said.

London should see 2.5 per cent growth, but that won’t be enough to offset its job losses of 2009.

St. Catharines-Niagara is expected to post the first growth in manufacturing output in a decade, and its housing market should recover from a five-year slide. This should lead to 2.4 per cent growth.

Sudbury should see 2.6 per cent growth, but that is put in doubt by the continuing strike at Vale Inco.

Thunder Bay has seen its economy decline for the last four consecutive years. Its economy is only expected to grow by 0.8 per cent. “Although the ‘old’ economy (particularly forestry) continues to struggle, diversification into medical technologies is expected to start paying off,” it said.

Ottawa-Gatineau is expected to grow by 3.2 per cent while Kingston should grow 2.5 per cent. The public sector in both places helped those cities dodge the worst of the recession, it said.

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