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What’s happening to Burnaby’s industrial lands?

Over the last 5 years, Burnaby has lost nearly 13 hectares of industrial land, and another 183 ha of land is expected to be converted from industrial uses in the coming years.

Metro Vancouver has kept a regional industrial lands inventory since 2005 in an effort to track the quality and quantity of industrial lands in the area. The inventory was introduced in response to a shortage of industrial land resulting from increased demand for industrial land and pressure to convert that land for other uses.

Only 3% of existing industrial land in Burnaby is still undeveloped, leaving little wiggle room left in the city.

“The inventory helps to understand the current and potential future utilization of industrial lands and, at a local level, helps to inform Burnaby’s industrial land-use policies,” city staff wrote in a recent report to council.

The inventory will form part of the basis for the sustainable economy section of the Metro 2050 regional growth strategy, which is currently in the works and expected to be distributed to municipalities over the next few months. And a draft of the growth strategy will be presented to city council by Metro Vancouver staff in the fall, city staff said.

The inventory is updated every 5 years, with the latest inventory new as of 2020. The inventory was presented to Metro Vancouver’s board in March of this year.

Burnaby’s 1,144 ha. of industrial land adds up to 10% of all industrial lands in the inventory, making the city the 4th largest base in the region, following Surrey, Richmond, and Delta. The lands in Burnaby are concentrated in the Big Bend, Royal Oak, and Central Valley areas, according to the staff report, and 90% of it is privately owned.

Split between 1,164 properties, the average industrial lot is 0.98 ha, with only about 10% of all properties adding up to more than 2 ha and just 4 sites at larger than 20 ha.

Among the larger sites, oil tank farms stand out, taking up 23% of the city’s industrial lands. “Building-intensive industrial” lands, which include general industrial, manufacturing and production, and distribution or warehouses, account for 47% of the city’s industrial lands.

The city added a 0.22 ha property in the Burnaby Lake Sports Complex community plan area to the inventory in 2020 as part of a “housekeeping amendment,” according to the city. Meanwhile, 40 properties, adding up to 13 ha (with an average of 0.33 ha), were all removed from the inventory, largely taken from the Brentwood and Royal Oak areas.

According to the staff report, 180 ha of industrial land is expected to be converted to “general urban” uses, with another 2 ha to be converted to “mixed employment,” and 1 ha in Barnet Marine Park is slated for conservation/recreation use.

Of the remaining 956 ha, just under half is earmarked for industrial use in the regional growth strategy, and a bit over half is locally designated for industrial, petrochemical, or business centre uses in the official community plan.

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