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Water’s Edge: Waterfront industries and their property values on Metro Vancouver’s oceanfront

Lori Culbert, Vancouver Sun, May 8, 2016

While the romantic vision of the waterfront is of waves lapping the shore or decks on which to view the setting sun, the reality in Vancouver is that 47 per cent of the land along our oceanfront is used for industry, business or services.

That is most evident in cities like Delta, Richmond and North Vancouver, where industry on the water’s edge is most prevalent.

The industries lining our coast sit on 12,000 acres and are an eclectic mix, according to real estate data provided by Landcor Data Corporation and analyzed by The Sun.

More than half the industrial land is dominated by transportation and utilities. While there are only a few airports or heliports (three in Richmond and one in Vancouver), they consume a relatively large number of industrial acres (2,653). This category also includes nine marine, navigational and ferry operations.

A quarter of the oceanfront industrial land base is dedicated to 47 farms, most of them in Delta and many of them hefty in size. Of the 35 biggest industrial properties on the water, 24 of them are farms, specializing in dairy, beef and/or produce.

Docks and wharfs consume about 10 per cent of the business-related acres on the waterfront, with 12 facilities in North Vancouver and another 11 throughout the region. Other industries typically associated with the water include four seafood plants and two shipyards.

The colour-coded map (on the below link) shows Metro Vancouver’s waterfront industries. Hover over a dot for more information about each property’s address, size and assessed value. (To move the map around, under the arrow menu chose the cross with the pointy ends then click on the map and slide your mouse left or right, up or down.)

Values assigned to businesses like farms ($34 million) and railway sites ($5.9 million) represent relatively little to the combined $4.4 billion assessed value of Metro Vancouver’s industrial properties.

The big kahuna of the list is the Vancouver International Airport, worth $1.9 billion.

The second most value industrial property, according to B.C. Assessment, is the Vancouver Convention Centre at $658 million. But that price tag seems like a bargain, since the government spent nearly $900 million building the centre for the Olympics.

Other big ticket properties include Canada Place ($117 million), Deltaport ($87 million) and Vancouver Shipyards ($79 million).

Return to this space tomorrow when we will analyze condominiums on the water’s edge, including their size, value and amenities.

In an effort to define our oceanfront, The Sun asked for help from Landcor, a New Westminster-based firm that specializes in analyzing real estate data. Landcor matched  B.C. Assessment data with other shoreline data sets to create a spreadsheet of 9,518 oceanfront properties between Lions Bay and South Surrey. Landcor excluded all addresses that were separated from the coast by another property, a road or railway (with the exception of the BNSF Railway in White Rock.) The Sun then analyzed that data to produce the maps and graphics for this series.