Gone in 20 years: Metro Vancouver’s supply of vacant industrial lands seen depleted in 2035-2045

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      The Lower Mainland is running out of lands for industry.

      A study prepared for the Metro Vancouver regional government anticipates that the current inventory of vacant industrial lands will likely be exhausted in the next two decades.

      If current trends continue, lands available for industry will be gone in 2035 to 2045.

      Metro Vancouver is preparing a strategy for industrial lands up the year 2050, and with the projected depletion of supply, the region needs to come up with solutions.

      Gord Tycho, a senior planner with Metro Vancouver, presented the Wollenberg Munro Consulting discussion paper in a report to the district’s industrial lands strategy task force.

      The task force chaired by Delta Mayor George Harvie is scheduled to meet Thursday (September 12).

      According to Tycho, there are about 5,500 acres (more than 2,225 hectares) of vacant industrial lands in the region.

      “Vacant in the inventory is actually vacant of industrial uses; some of this land is currently utilized for other purposes including residential and agricultural,” Tycho explained. “There is a severe shortage of available industrial land, and demand is strong.”

      Tycho noted that based on the Wollenberg Munro Consulting analysis, the inventory “will be taken up in 22 to 28 years, assuming 100% of the undeveloped inventory is available for industrial development in this time frame”.

      Three scenarios were examined, involving the annual absorption of industrial lands at the following rates: 200 acres (80 hectares), 225 acres (91 hectares), and 250 acres (101 hectares).

      “All three scenarios suggest that it is highly likely that during the decade 2035 to 2045, Metro Vancouver will have exhausted its inventory of vacant and undeveloped industrial land,” Tycho wrote.

      The consulting firm defines 'industry' or 'industrial' as use that involves manufacturing, warehouse, distribution, construction, transportation, utilities, and similar uses that generally require ground level space, usually for loading and storage.

      According to Tycho, the region can consider three policy directions.

      One is greater protection of industrial lands from non-industrial uses.

      The second is the intensification of use of industrial lands.

      The third is to increase inventory.

      Referring to the third policy direction, Tycho noted that this will “clearly be a challenging policy direction as there are no un-controversial ways to shift land from other uses to industrial”.

      “However, if the region wants to maintain the full dimensions of its economic and employment diversity, it is necessary to confront the challenge of being able to accommodate large manufacturing and logistics users,” Tycho wrote.