Creating In-Demand Industrial Land
Developers and businesses in the dense Metropolitan Vancouver area will soon have approximately 4 million new square feet of industrial and commercial land to work with.
The market for industrial land in the Metro Vancouver region is at a record low of 1.5 per cent, the lowest in North America (Collier’s). With the demand for land increasing due to the growing population, one of B.C. smallest First Nations is emerging with a big solution.
The Kwikwetlem First Nation (KFN) is developing a 110-acre site off Pitt River Road in Port Coquitlam. The First Nation—which has under 100 residents living on reserve—is located in the middle of Metro Vancouver, in Coquitlam. The KFN’s new development, the Kwikwetlem Business Park, is situated in Port Coquitlam and is ideally located for industrial land.
The KFN will lease out its reserve land, and according to Chief Ron Giesbrecht, the project will include a health and wellness centre and a film studio.
“There is strong demand for industrial land by developers,” says Giesbrecht. “Under the leadership of Marvin Joe, who had a vision of one day having enough land to lease out for owned-source revenue to generate resources for the community and opportunities for entrepreneurship for band members.
Once the site is operational, there is potential for up to 5,000 jobs. The KFN band members are very excited about this opportunity.”
To be developed in three phases, the site has been in planning stages for six years, with the KFN implementing an environmental soil screening program to ensure only safe structural material was being deposited on the site. While the land is being developed with the greater business community in mind, the “centrepiece of the project”, according to Giesbrecht, will be a comprehensive health and wellness centre for the KFN. Currently, the KFN doesn’t have an existing health centre, so its importance goes without explanation. It will also contribute the community’s economic health, creating dozens if not hundreds of jobs for Indigenous residents in the area.
Giesbrecht says the Band is ready to lease the acres “yesterday”, but are waiting on Indigenous Services Canada to approve phase one of the head lease, which should be by fall 2018. Because the First Nations reserve is crown-owned, tenants will have the option of 99-year leases.
The project is being over seen by the KFN’s economic development arm, which was developed to “promote the self-determination and long-term growth” of the KFN.
“We, the KFN, want to own a lot of the buildings ourselves and create a scenario where we build the buildings and then lease them to tenants,” says Giesbrecht. “Once we are generating revenue, much of the resources will be put into the social needs of the community. I imagine the future for not only our children, but our grandchildren. We are trying to think many generations away, and at the end of the day we want to create a project that will positively impact their lives.”
Through accessing the value of their land, the KFN will be able to play on an equal playing field in the broader economy. Through strategic, diligence and acute planning, the KFN will help their business by offering a premium business park to others.