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Industrial land developers encouraged to stop sprawling, start building dense and smart

November 14th, 2012 · 23 Comments

Former mayor Sam Sullivan was the first person I heard talk about the idea of “industrial densification” as a way to get more stuff onto Vancouver’s limited amount of land. I’ve heard the idea pitched several times since then.

But every time I talk to commercial brokers or industrial-land developers about it, they just roll their eyes. Building up costs too much, they say. People would rather build one-storey cheap buildings in Kelowna or Calgary and ship their stuff there than get into trying to do complex industrial buildings in Vancouver.

But Metro Vancouver and head planner Gaetan Royer are trying to buck that attitude anyways. Since earlier this year, they’ve been making noises about industrial intensification. There was an update at the Metro Vancouver meeting Friday (here’s my story out of it) and they’re about to kick this out to the public for consultation.

Why should the public care about industrial land? A few reasons

1. As municipalities try to encourage industrial developers to make maximum use of their land, that’s going to mean allowing them to go higher. Richmond has already put that into its official community plan, with the proviso that height restrictions are only lifted where industry doesn’t border residential. But you can see, as areas change, where there could be some conflicts.

2. You or your kids could end up working at some warehouse in the middle of nowhere, with no bus service, if developers don’t get smarter about doing dense industrial development.

3. Industrial land is jobs. We aren’t all going to be documentary film-makers, lawyers or massage therapists.

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