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New study reveals looming shortage of trade-enabling industrial land in Lower Mainland

December 3, 2015

Supply of vacant land suitable for trade and goods movement to be exhausted within 10 years

Vancouver, B.C. A new study commissioned by Port Metro Vancouver has found that the current supply of trade-enabling industrial land in the Lower Mainland will likely be exhausted roughly within the next 10 years.

The study, undertaken by Site Economics Ltd., specifically examined the inventory of trade-enabling industrial land, going beyond previous studies that have explored the supply of all general industrial land in the region. Trade-enabling industrial lands are lands required to support goods movement in and out of the region, housing marine terminals and buildings such as distribution centres and warehouses. To facilitate efficient trade, these activities must be in close proximity to major roads and rail lines.

The new study found:

  • There are only roughly 1,000 acres of vacant trade-enabling industrial lands available in the region suitable for logistics and goods movement.
  • Based on average annual absorption rates and anticipated demand, the supply of vacant trade-enabling industrial land in the region could be depleted within a decade.
  • Roughly 1,500 to 3,000 more acres of trade-enabling industrial lands are required in the next five to 10 years to meet the demands of a growing Canadian economy.
  • Trade and logistics businesses account for most of Metro Vancouver’s industrial economy, and generate the demand for well over half of all industrial development in the region.
  • The total direct and indirect economic impact of every 100 acres of logistics development is equal to approximately $1.9 billion of economic value.

“Trade and logistics services that support goods movement are critical to the local and national economy, and contribute to our high standard of living,” said Robin Silvester, President and Chief Executive Officer of Port Metro Vancouver. “Without sufficient trade-enabling industrial land to meet growing demand, we risk hitting an economic brick wall, with serious consequences for our quality of life here in the Lower Mainland.”

The federal port authority is mandated to ensure the port is ready to handle Canada’s future trade demands, in the interests of all Canadians. The demand for Canadian trade is growing, and container traffic through Canada’s Pacific gateway is expected to nearly double over the next 15 years. Trade-enabling industrial land will be required to meet this growing demand. If the current trend of a shrinking industrial land base continues, Vancouver’s port may be unable to remain competitive with other trade gateways, the region will miss out on economic opportunities and the costs of goods may rise.

According to the new study, the supply of trade-enabling industrial land in the region is being threatened by a number of factors, including rezonings and encroaching residential development. The re-development of industrial land near critical transportation corridors for uses other than trade is also a reality impacting the supply of land for efficient goods movement.

“This issue is critical to the future of the Canadian economy, considering nearly 20 per cent of the value of all goods traded by Canada pass through the port here in Vancouver. We hope all levels of government will take the necessary steps to ensure this key region has sufficient land to support future growth,” Silvester added.

For more information

About Port Metro Vancouver

Port Metro Vancouver is Canada’s largest port and the third largest tonnage port in North America, responsible for Canada’s trade with more than 160 world economies. Located in a naturally beautiful setting on Canada’s west coast, Port Metro Vancouver is responsible for the efficient and reliable movement of goods and passengers, and integrates environmental, social and economic sustainability initiatives into all areas of port operations. Port Metro Vancouver is committed to meaningful engagement with the communities in which it operates and the shared obligation to improve the quality of life for Canadians. Enabling the trade of approximately $187 billion in goods annually, the port generates an estimated 100,000 jobs, $6.1 billion in wages, and $9.7 billion in GDP across Canada. As a non-shareholder, financially self-sufficient corporation established by the Government of Canada, Port Metro Vancouver operates pursuant to the Canada Marine Act and is accountable to the elected federal Minister of Transport.


Port Metro Vancouver
John Parker-Jervis
Media & Government Affairs Advisor
[email protected]

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