Vancouver Out of all the skills that construction worker Adam Clark has acquired, the most important was one that he learned from his father, but required no tools. The good times don't last in construction, Mr Clark's father warned him. Prepare for when things turn. He has been in the business for decades, and seen both good times and bad. Even though Mr Clark is only 23 and has worked mainly in boom times, he lives by that lesson. 'People used to say money was no object and they just wanted to get the work done no matter what,' said Mr Clark, who works for himself on residential construction, and also on commercial buildings as part of a crew. 'Now, every penny has to be stretched. They want price adjustments downwards. If you want to get a job, you have to really sharpen your pencil.' The latest employment figures show that British Columbia, which once boasted one of the country's lowest unemployment rates, is facing a painful new reality. The province saw 8,000 jobs disappear last month, the highest loss of any province, as unemployment soared. Construction workers absorbed the bulk of these job losses, 6,500 of them. Mr Clark knows the bad times are now here; he can see it in the way he gets paid these days. Cheques are getting rarer; more and more homeowners are paying him with cash withdrawals from a line of credit, or even by credit card. Keith Sashaw, president of the Vancouver Regional Construction Association, says more job losses are on the way and more projects will shut down because developers are unable to get financing. Mr Sashaw said no one anticipated such a sudden drop in activity. Condo developments are being halted, even on properties that have been pre-sold. The most noticeable work stoppage has hit one of the city's premier luxury sites, what was supposed to be a towering symbol of prosperity in the heart of downtown Vancouver. The plan for the C$500-million (HK$3.3-billion) Ritz-Carlton hotel and condo project boasts a twisting 60-storey glass tower, designed by Canada's most famous architect, Arthur Erickson. It was set to be completed in early 2011. Some of the condos, which had a starting price of C$2.5 million, had already been sold. Mr Sashaw said he hoped that immigration to British Columbia would keep the construction industry's head above water. 'We began to see the market get murky in the summer ... and lowering levels of construction activity,' he said. 'In September, things changed suddenly. The change was almost overnight. The fundamentals continue to be strong, but when you hear about the turmoil in the markets, it's logical that people are rethinking.' Residential construction went down dramatically and will probably operate at low levels for at least nine months, said Mr Sashaw. Other estimates are that the downturn will continue until at least 2011. For workers like Mr Clark, the slowing of the market means that it's time to reconsider the smaller projects that weren't worth the effort during the boom, as well as seeking out the infrastructure jobs funded by the provincial government, such as highway work and school upgrades. 'I started off demolishing crematoriums when I was 12 years old,' he says. 'This isn't the worst I've seen, and everyone has to just sharpen their tools until next time.' What's clear is that housing construction is no longer the driving economic force that it used to be in Vancouver.