If something isn’t done about an increasing shortage of industrial land, there is a chance Langley and the rest of the Lower Mainland could effectively run out of space by 2030.
That’s the assessment of Greater Langley Chamber of Commerce director Garth White, a commercial real estate broker with Avison Young Commercial Real Estate.
Every year, White noted, there is less industrial land available.
“There’s about nine to 10 years of supply,” White commented.
“We’re definitely starting to run out.”
A post by the Metro Vancouver regional authority agrees there is an impending shortage of industrial land, calling it “crucial to support a prosperous, sustainable regional economy” with roughly one in four Metro jobs, about 23 per cent, or 275,000, located in industrial lands.
Used mainly for manufacturing, transportation and warehousing, wholesale trade, retail trade and professional and technical services, industrial lands provide for the day-to-day needs of the region’s population, with services like vehicle repair, industrial laundry services, catering companies, breweries and couriers.
As industrial land gets harder to find, it’s becoming more expensive, with prices rising an average of 11 per cent a year, White noted
Locally, with the U.S. border on one side and mountains on the other, there isn’t as much space compared to other metropolitan areas, White observed.
“If you look at Calgary, Edmonton, Toronto, there’s ability to expand outward,” said White.
But beyond geography and borders, White maintains the big issue is one of policy.
There is space, it’s just not being utilized, according to White, who points to the loss of large industrial sites that have been re-zoned for residential, and land that can’t be touched because it’s in the Agricultural Land Reserve (ALR).
“I think there’s a lot of unproductive land that’s in the ALR that isn’t farmed and can’t be farmed,” White commented.
It isn’t a popular opinion,” he acknowledged, but it “needs to be looked at.”
There is also available land that isn’t in the ALR that could be used for industrial, he added, citing as an example, the stretch of Fraser Highway between 240 and 248 Streets.
Something needs to be done before we “hit that wall and run out of land,” White commented. “I think there’s a lot of talk about it, but little action.”
Much of the industrial land base is being lost because of market pressure to convert industrial lands to multi-family residential and commercial developments, a report by the Greater Langley Chamber of Commerce has warned.
It described the shortage of industrial land in Greater Vancouver as “severe” and said preservation of the existing stock cannot be accomplished by local governments alone, but will require regional cooperation and provincial leadership.
”The challenge is that valuable, employment- generating industrial lands located near airports, rivers and roadways, are being lost forever and this will stifle our future economic growth,” it declared in an advocacy update published online at www.langleychamber.com titled “Protection of Industrial Lands for Future Prosperity.”
It called on the province to help develop a strategy with regional and local governments “to prevent further depletion of critical industrial parcels and to ensure the replacement of lost industrial lands and a potential increase in the size of the industrial land base. “