For Immediate Release
Wednesday, September 13, 2023
VANCOUVER, B.C. — The Greater Vancouver Board of Trade and the NAIOP Vancouver Chapter commissioned a report by InterVISTAS Consulting Inc. and Urban Systems, assessing the economic impact of the industrial land shortage in Metro Vancouver.
The findings show that industrial lands make up just four per cent of the total land mass in the region but result in over 450,000 direct and indirect jobs, $50.1 billion in GDP, and an overall output of $92.5 billion. Industrial land generates a third of regional GDP and more than one-in-four jobs (27%) are located on industrial lands. These jobs also tend to be higher wages jobs, with workers earning an average wage over 10% higher than the national average.
For years, many businesses and market commentators were forecasting that we would have a crisis of industrial land similar to our housing crisis. The data demonstrates that we have passed the tipping point and are now at a critical juncture. Vacancy rates are hovering around 1.0%, among the lowest in North America. The lack of available land has contributed to skyrocketing prices, with average land costs tripling over the last five years. Average costs per acre are now roughly six times higher in our region than in Metro Seattle or Calgary.
The result of this shortage is impeding growth and innovation. Firms are leaving Greater Vancouver along with new jobs and investments to neighbouring jurisdictions like Calgary, Edmonton, and Washington state. Over the past 4.5 years, an estimated 5.1 million sq ft of space has been taken up by firms in Calgary rather than Metro Vancouver. This includes firms that have left the region and others that preferred to invest in Vancouver but instead chose Calgary. The economic impact is estimated to be the loss of 6,300 direct jobs, $477 million in wages, and nearly $500 million in GDP. Investments in Calgary are also leading to additional environmental impacts as goods are often shipped through the Port of Vancouver, moved to Calgary, only to be trucked back to Vancouver.
The GVBOT and NAIOP Vancouver collectively are recommending that municipalities, Metro Vancouver, and the provincial government take action to address a number of identified barriers to providing the industrial land we need. The recommendations are:
- Re-focus regional land use planning to prioritize local: local housing, local food, and local production and jobs
- Increase protection and availability of industrial land in Metro Vancouver from the current 4%, including looking at non-productive lands that could be converted
- Revise regional land use plans every 3 years and require enough supply of industrial and employment lands
For every one per cent increase in land available for jobs and production, the study estimates that an additional 126,100 jobs are created and $12.2 billion in GDP is generated for B.C. These jobs would provide above average salaries and would substantially increase local production, manufacturing, and support local industries.
We are calling on governments to work with the private sector to address barriers to developing industrial lands by addressing seven barriers to development:
- Mis-matched land use (e.g., industrial lands being used for non-industrial purposes)
- Red tape, high fees, and regulatory impediments
- Long-term protection of industrial lands does not cover all current lands in the inventory
- Lands lacking access to key transportation corridors and infrastructure
- Land parcels are too small for trade-enabling purposes
- Better balance competing land use priorities
- Inability to find larger footprint if businesses want to increase scale
To view the full report, click here.
"Industrial lands continue to be the backbone of our economy, comprising just 4% of Metro Vancouver's area while contributing a third of local jobs and over $50 billion in GDP annually. Due to a lack of available land and a complex regulatory system, land prices have more than tripled in five years, causing businesses and thousands of family-supporting jobs to be shipped to Calgary and other cities. To build a balanced and prosperous economy, we need a refreshed approach to land use that prioritizes the policies needed to deliver more local housing, local food, and more local jobs and production. " - Bridgitte Anderson, President and CEO of the Greater Vancouver Board of Trade
“Industrial lands are some of the most productive in the region based on economic output, jobs and wages. Priority needs to be placed on the addition of more industrial lands to Metro Vancouver and the Fraser Valley to continue to support the movement of food and goods and to create and maintain jobs in our region. With the critical shortage of industrial zoned and serviced land, we have lost industrial businesses and the accompanying economic benefits to other regions and this trend will continue unless all three levels of government make an effort to address the issue.” - NAIOP Vancouver
About the Greater Vancouver Board of Trade:
Since its inception in 1887, the Greater Vancouver Board of Trade has been recognized as Western Canada's leading business association, engaging our members to inform public policy at all levels of government and empowering them to succeed and prosper in the global economy. With a Membership whose employees comprise one-third of B.C.'s workforce, we are the largest business association between Victoria and Toronto. We leverage this collective strength, facilitating networking opportunities, and providing professional development through unique programs. In addition, we operate one of the largest events platforms in the country, providing a stage for national and international thought leaders to enlighten B.C.'s business leaders.
About the Vancouver Chapter of NAIOP:
The Vancouver Chapter of NAIOP is one of more than 50 chapters within an extensive network that represents the interests of developers and owners of commercial real estate throughout North America.
The Vancouver Chapter provides communication, networking and business opportunities for real estate and related professionals within the local commercial market.
NAIOP Vancouver's mission is to Serve the local commercial real estate community through our three pillars:
- Government Relations and Advocacy
Advocating for owners and developers of commercial real estate with all levels of government to ensure optimal outcomes for both our industry and the community.
- Networking & Promotion
Hosting networking opportunities for the spectrum of industries that comprise and support commercial real estate, giving profile and visibility to leaders in the industry.
Providing education, led by local experts with a local context.