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Vancouver port moves to save industrial land from condos

February 9th, 2010 · 9 Comments

It’s hard to focus on anything else besides the Olympics, I know, but here’s a small bulletin from the real economy of Vancouver: Port Metro Vancouver’s efforts to buy up industrial land in the region to preserve it from municipal conversions to residential.

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  • Glad you wrote about this as it’s so crucial to the metro area’s future to preserve some waterfront industrial land. Our #1 economic driver now is the Port.

    Although it may not be the most attractive waterfront use, having industrial lands by the port will also cut down on GHG emissions as it will reduce the number of containers being hauled around by truck to more distant inland sorting facilities.

  • MB

    It’s a good thing to look at protecting industrial land uses.

    That said, the Port may be well advised to conduct a study on the effects on shipping of higher fossil fuel prices and the opening of a newly expanded Panama Canal in about three years. Both have the potential to reduce West Coast shipping dramatically.

  • MB

    The loss of agricultural land to port industry is troubling. Food security cannot be taken for granted forever.

  • Blaffergassted

    Kudos to the Port of Vancouver (and FB) for this.

    The service sector will never provide the good-paying jobs needed to sustain a family in this extraordinarily expensive city.

    And I was particularly pleased to read this part:

    Mr. Silvester said in a recent interview that the port has agreed it will not purchase any more agricultural land until there is a policy in place.

    But, he said, there needs to be some way of negotiating a swap of farmland near ports for potential farmland elsewhere.

  • grumbelschmoll

    In other cities, conversion of port land to higher uses has been extraordinarily lucrative. Maybe there is more than one motive involved here. Ports’ purpose is to provide for shipping, not to use our money for industrial land speculation, nor to contribute to the conversion of agricultural land. This is wrong.

  • Bill Lee

    We’ve already had the docklands of False Creek, Coal Harbour titivated into Condo towers.

    And the Whitecaps soccer team owner was trying to get free air rights over the docklands around Gastown for a stadium (and probably hotel and condos).
    The whole Vancouver waterfront side is ripe for speculation for housing if we can just get the trains to go south to Roberts Bank or Tilbury Island instead.
    The foreign media is suprised at how our port is still in the city and not moved out to a container port elsewhere–they don’t have grain elevators. And that we haven’t made the port a walking, tourist village with fake ye olde stores etc. Some have noted that the eastern half of the city can’t get directly to the water at all but have to come west to Kits beach or Stanley Park beaches.
    The water in the inlet is still dead, polluted and ready for infill as with Centennial Pier to create more “land” and use the dredged material (also heavily polluted) to fill in the shore. (Vanmap at the City of Vancouver site still has an option to show the classic shoreline on maps)

  • Bill Lee

    But see the 3 year chart (click 3 yr) to see that shipping ain’t doing that well as indicated by the Baltic Dry Index. Certainly not when compared to “before the recession”
    So there really isn’t the need to expand the port. Besides protectionist shipping laws and a miracle at Prince Rupert might depress shipping through Vancouver.
    Land deals may be a matter of locking in brownfield housing as opposed to greenfield housing sites.
    Click 3 yr.

    What’s the BDI (Baltic Dry Index) ? Not a bad explanation of a measure of shipping traffic at:

    (Far too many charts for commodity shipping at: )

  • Claudia Laroye

    It is worth noting that in July 2009, the City of Vancouver solidified its support for the retention of I2 & M2-zoned industrial land south of SW Marine Drive along the Fraser River waterfront, from Marpole to the Knight St. Bridge.

    Of course, this was years after the City allowed much of its own industrial land to be let go for residential developments in the East Fraser Lands, Burrard Inlet, False Creek, etc.

    Though the City may have found ‘religion’ in the retention of its industrial land (and taxation) base for the express purpose of preserving quality jobs in those lands, the community (and the media) need to be vigilant in ensuring that industrial jobs along the Fraser River don’t mean 3 people working in a 100K sq ft warehouse along the River.

    South Vancouver neighbourhoods like Marpole want and need good quality, well-paying employment for its residents. What those kinds of jobs may be and look like remains to be seen. The Fraser River industrial waterfront is no longer the domain of the forestry or fishery industries. The Port knows this all too well.

    The community will also expect and will work towards public access to our ‘other city waterfront’ in Vancouver – along the Fraser River. There is room for the two to safely co-exist; we’ve already seen it happen elsewhere in the city, and all over the world.

  • Lewis N. Villegas

    As I read the comments, and Frances’s piece, what keeps flashing back to me is NYC, and all the shoreline that is more or less vacated.

    I heard this kind of argument from the planners when they were tackling SEFC (the Olympic Village) and, eyebrows raised, we were asking, “do you really believe you have the facts straight?”.

    They were imploring that we stop talking about all parcels within easy walking distance of the Salt Building, because so much of it was “industrial and a jobs base”.

    I was being bloody-minded (as usual) and suggesting that if we were going to build a neighborhood around the Salt Building, then maybe that new neighborhood should be given a chance, and given enough land to generate its own kind of neighborhood energy, or jam. My concerns were with taming traffic on 2nd Avenue, not with preserving zoning that probably depended on having barges sailing up False Creek, trains rolling on tracks that were long decommissioned, and buildings like the Salt Building churning out “real stuff” not community space. Their concerns were with the old paradigm.

    Let’s face it, industrial land needs to be cheap and in abundance. That is no longer the case inside Vancouver City limits. So, koodos to the Port Authority, they are making shrewd investments. Any time you can buy land at a discount and hold it until it becomes developable at high residential densities, you are making sound investments.