Thursday, September 12, 2019

Over a quarter of jobs in Metro Vancouver depend on industrial land. Possible measures to protect this land are being discussed.

Because we are a port region, a centre of innovation for technology and manufacturing, and have a large creative sector, industrial land is critical for our economy. For example, the recently announced 600,000 square foot film studio in Langley Township is in regionally protected industrial and employment lands.

Research done on behalf of the Metro Vancouver Regional District shows that 26% of jobs in our region are “dependent on industrial land (including transportation/warehousing/logistics, manufacturing, wholesale, construction, and resources).”

These industrial lands are under threat due to pressures such as being converted for general urban usage for residential, retail, or office space. Even within areas zoned as industrial, due to inconsistent zoning between municipalities in our region, big box retail, offices, and auto dealerships can be found in industrial zones.

Due to the demand for industrial-zoned land, and the encroachment of non-industrial uses into industrial-zoned areas, it is predicted that we will run out of industrial land in about 25 years in our region.

As such, the Metro Vancouver Regional District is looking at ways to preserve and enhanced the industrial land base. The following ideas are being floated as possible tools to ensure that there is enough industrial land into the future:

Provincial Industrial Land Reserve

Working with the province to consider the establishment of an Industrial Land Reserve in Metro Vancouver, similar to the Agricultural Land Reserve.

Strengthening Regional Policy

Improving the definitions and permitted uses on industrial lands, and make it harder to convert these lands to other uses.

Trade-enabling Zoning Districts

Working with the province to grant municipalities the power to define permitted forms of tenure on industrial land. This is currently possible in residential zones.

Zoning Consistency for Industrial Lands

Developing a consistent definition of ‘industrial’ across all municipalities in our region, and ensuring non-industrial uses are not permitted in industrial zones.

Regional Land Use Assessment

Identifying opportunities for more optimized locations and uses for industrial land in our region.

Encouraging Intensification

Loosening any unnecessary restrictions to density or height limits where appropriate in industrial zones.

Mixed-Use: Allowing Residential

Allowing mixed-use industrial/residential within industrial zones that are in immediately proximity to rapid transit as long as it does not result in a loss of available industrial land.

These options will be refined, and will likely be incorporated into a future update to our regional’s growth strategy which must be followed by all municipalities in Metro Vancouver.

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