Metro Vancouver approves industrial land uses for South Campbell Heights

Metro Vancouver is on track to provide itself with much-needed industrial space, following a decision by the regional district board on Friday.

A majority of board members, consisting of elected mayors and councilors from the region’s local governments, gave the green light to initiate the regional growth strategy change needed to meet the city of Surrey’s requested change of land use designation for the South Campbell Heights (SCH) area.

SCH is an immediate southern extension of the existing 1,900-acre North Campbell Heights area, which is expected to be fully developed with industrial and other large-scale commercial enterprises within seven or nine years.

It is largely undeveloped land south of 20th Avenue, along the border of the Township of Langley. Although SCH is surrounded by the agricultural land reserve, it is not part of this provincial protected agricultural land designation.

To create a southern extension of South Campbell Heights, the city of Surrey requested the conversion of 397 acres for employment purposes, 137 acres for conservation and recreational purposes, and 29.7 acres for agricultural purposes.

In addition, to allow any urban development in this area, the region’s boundary for urban limitation will be extended by 553 acres. SCH spans 72 properties.

south campbell heights surrey metro vancouver

Footprint of South Campbell Heights in Surrey. (Metro Vancouver Regional District)

south campbell heights surrey metro vancouver

Planned land use change for urban development in South Campbell Heights, Surrey. (Metro Vancouver Regional District)

The staff of the regional district notes that environmental work planning will be carried out by the municipal council’s forthcoming local planning process.

It is also stated that although the area is accessible with two truck routes and the large road network, there will be a need for extensive new and upgraded road connections within the area.

“The area is strategically located from a goods movement and job perspective. South Campbell Heights is close to the U.S. border and adjacent to an existing mixed employment area; it connects with the regional truck route network and the Major Road Network; and it would serve the labor markets of both South Surrey and Langley, ”reads a regional district staff report.

As the land use designation for this area will be mixed employment, the regional district staff also informs that there is a possibility that the area can attract certain types of businesses, such as offices, away from city centers that are already well served by public transport.

Staff in the regional district say that ‘it will be up to the city of Surrey to ensure that land use in this area supports the industry and does not compete with larger travel-generating uses that are more conveniently located in city centers, in an effort to reduce car-oriented’ job distribution ‘. “

Walmart Distribution Center Campbell Heights Surrey

Aerial view of the newly built Walmart Distribution Center in Campbell Heights North, Surrey. (Stuart Olson / RiteTech Construction)

The regional district is considered SCH after the submission of the requested land use changes by the town of Surrey last summer, where the latest board decision is in line with the recommendations of the regional district planning committee last month. In 2018, the regional district rejected the town of Surrey’s original proposal to allow housing development in the area.

The intention of SCH is now primarily to meet the region’s industrial space needs, given the great shortage of such spaces, which continues now and is predicted far into the future.

According to CBRE’s report for the third quarter of 2021, Metro Vancouver has actually run out of industrial premises, with overall availability falling to a record low of 0.9%, which is also pushing up rents.

There is currently 6.3 million square meters of industrial space under construction, but 74% is already pre-leased with over half of the remaining space at some stage of the negotiation. Companies in need of industrial premises have few options apart from securing design-built facilities for their space needs.

This level of pre-leasing, together with limited suitable industrial base, has left a large-scale industrial premises in short supply; there are no existing or available options for renting over 50,000 m2. More new supply construction is needed to meet short- and long-term demand.

The lack of industrial space pushes companies elsewhere on the lower mainland or even out of BC in some cases, limiting economic growth, innovation and investment opportunities. It also leads to an upward pressure in rental and transportation costs, which are costs that are passed on to consumers.

“The recently completed Regional Industrial Land Strategy documented the extremely limited supply of industrial land in the region, the constant strong demand for industrial land and the few opportunities to add more land to the regional market. In many areas, existing industrial areas are also threatened by conversion to other use, ”adds the regional district staff report.

As a result of the land use changes, the Surrey Board of Trade estimates that there is potential to build over 8.5 million sq ft of building floor area within SCH, which employs up to 20,000 people. There is a great demand for these areas of employment; 135 companies and companies have expressed interest in moving into this area.

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