South Campbell Heights industrial lands get final approval from Metro Vancouver

Feb 25 2022, 11:32 pm

A years-long proposal and review process for extending Surrey’s Campbell Heights industrial lands southwards has received its full approval from Metro Vancouver Regional District.

In a public meeting Friday afternoon, regional district board members voted 69-65 to approve the City of Surrey’s request to redesignate South Campbell Heights land uses to allow for industrial and other large-format commercial business uses. The board is comprised of mayors and city councillors from the municipal governments across the region, with today’s vote conducted as a weighted vote based on the population of each municipality.

As a result of the decision, the region’s urban containment boundary, where development can occur, will be extended by 552 acres, with about 400 acres designated as mixed employment, 137 acres as conservation and recreation, and 30 acres for agriculture. Additionally, 33 acres currently designated for mixed employment in the urban containment boundary will now be protected for conservation and recreation.

It is estimated the development of South Campbell Heights’ newly designated urban lands could allow for over 8.5 million sq ft of building floor area, employing as many as 20,000 people in up to 150 businesses.

Currently, the existing industrial lands in Campbell Heights immediately to the north span about 1,900 acres, but these lands are set to be fully developed by the end of the decade.

south campbell heights plan surrey

Proposed industrial and commercial land uses, and protected conservation areas in the South Campbell Heights. (City of Surrey)

Metro Vancouver is facing a severe industrial land shortage, which has pushed the region’s industrial vacancy rate to the lowest amongst North America’s urban centres, and propelled rents, affecting the region’s ability to retain and attract major businesses requiring big format spaces.

At the end of 2022, according to CBRE, the region’s industrial space availability dropped to a new record low of only 0.9%.

These shortage conditions persist despite 1.2 million sq ft of new construction completed during the quarter, offset by strong levels of pre-leasing due to high demand. Currently, in response to the demand, there is a record high of 9.4 million sq ft of industrial space under construction in the fourth quarter, with 77% of this space already pre-leased.

“The Surrey Board of Trade is pleased with this monumental decision in favour of economic competitiveness, industrial land, business and job growth,” said Anita Huberman, president and CEO of Surrey Board of Trade, in a statement.

“This is a signal to the global business community that we are ready to do business, grow business, and bring business into Surrey and in the Metro Vancouver region.”

south campbell heights surrey metro vancouver

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

loblaws warehouse campbell heights surrey

Loblaws warehouse at 2755 190 Street in Campbell Heights, Surrey. (Google Maps)

The City of Surrey originally requested permission from the regional district in 2018 to allow residential uses in South Campbell Heights, but this was rejected. The municipal government subsequently pivoted to exploring industrial uses for the area, taking into account the existing Campbell Heights industrial cluster and the transportation infrastructure that exists to support more industrial businesses.

After the regional district’s planning committee approved South Campbell Heights in Fall 2021, the final review for the decision was sent to the regional district board.

Last month, after the Semiahmoo First Nation and environmental and other groups expressed opposition to the land use redesignation, the regional district board sent back the proposal to both regional district and City of Surrey staff for additional details on environmental and aquifer protection, and consultation with the First Nation. Opponents to the project argued there was insufficient consultation and study on the redesignation.

According to the city, the environmental impact will be minimal, given that South Campbell Heights represents only 5% of the area of the whole aquifer in the area. Of the portion of the aquifer that is within South Campbell Heights, about 33% is within the protected conservation and recreation area, which means just 3.3% of the entire aquifer is located within the mixed employment designation. The municipal government states it will require developments to provide enhanced stormwater management and other environmental measures to mitigate any potential impact.

Kenneth ChanKenneth Chan

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