A diverse economy requires an integrated spectrum of businesses and workers. Local governments help economic activity on the land between their boundaries. Vancouver’s coffers have become over-reliant on rezoning and the corresponding housing developments. This practice has not only caused highly inflationary pressure on land values, but this single-minded focus from City Hall has come at the expense of all other industries and economic development. The dependence on this strategy has impacted the small/local business sector, as property assessments have caused rents and/or mortgages to skyrocket. This approach is not sustainable as a strategy for the City’s economic development.
The end result is many businesses of all sizes have either closed their doors in Vancouver proper, are considering doing so, or are looking to relocate outside of Vancouver. Worst case is that the combination of affordability and a decline in revenue due to COVID 19, has forced many business entities into bankruptcy.
TEAM Perspective and Action Plan
Vancouver must cease the rezoning craze and focus on the preservation and expansion of job producing land. TEAM will foster economic development in order to create and keep jobs in Vancouver. TEAM wants to create policies that facilitate the retention of existing businesses and empowers them to plan and execute growth.
TEAM will initiate its neighbourhood-based planning program, reviving and enhancing the necessary transparency and consultation that is key to the development of policies that will encourage a mix of businesses to support the needs of Vancouver residents and communities.
Regional economic cooperation is critical in attracting larger companies, including multi-national entities. Invest Vancouver is, and should continue to be, the conduit for this endeavor. However, the Vancouver Economic Commission (VEC) has seen its budget quadruple while being managed as an instrument to further political agendas. TEAM would fold the VEC, splitting a portion of the funding between Invest Vancouver and a new City Hall office focused on existing small and medium business retention.
TEAM recognizes that in today’s global economy, small businesses are the true engine in nurturing economic growth and we will work to make City Hall an ally for small/local businesses.
- Take inventory of existing land already zoned for industrial and commercial use and ensure it is protected and utilized appropriately. The City has stated that only 5% of the land is now economically productive, and yet the City continues to consider rezoning from commercial to residential use (e.g. old Georgia Straight office, Arthur Erickson Place parkade, etc.);
- Streamline support to all sectors to allow Vancouver to diversify away from its reliance on the unsustainable strategy of rezoning land for higher density housing developments. These efforts would include better efficiency towards permit processing, rezoning as it relates to the creation of commercial job producing endeavors;
- Utilize TEAM’s neighbourhood-based planning initiatives, not only as a governance vehicle for more comprehensive transparency and consultation, but additionally, as a platform to engage local neighborhoods regarding their local economic development needs and plans. TEAM envisions “innovation hubs/labs” in all neighborhoods, all interconnected with educational institutions and existing local industrial entities looking to foster innovation within their sectors. TEAM will look at ways of assisting with City owned properties through subsidized rent;
- Focus on "green" or sustainable industries and life sciences in terms of attracting new businesses or start-ups. Look to include UBC into these conversations;
- Use the city's buying power in procurement to support local businesses to whatever degree possible;
- Continue to encourage all commercial enterprises that showcase Vancouver in all its beauty as a means to encourage new investments into the local economy;
- Continue to motivate the existing film and television industry to see Vancouver as a welcoming community through the easing of permits, parking issues and the use of city properties and facilities - all issues of high importance to this sector;
- Stay vigilant in managing the impact of COVID-19 on our tourism industry and to assist where possible as things open up to pre-COVID levels. Vancouver must be aggressive in the pursuit of tourists. In spite of the impact that COVID has had on the convention trade, Vancouver still offers a unique, beautiful mutli-cultural experience for convention goers. Again, conventions can offer attendees a glimpse into the soul of the city in a manner that may engender investments and/or new businesses.
Related Policies: All policies of City Council, Park Board and School Board