A newly completed Cowichan Industrial Land Use Strategy has identified the connection between creating and preserving industrial lands in the Cowichan region and creating the jobs of the future.
Commissioned by Economic Development Cowichan (EDC), the strategy examines the vital role industrial lands play in shaping the economic future and social health of our region. Working with the consulting firm Urban Systems, EDC launched the strategy in 2018 to engage with current industrial land users, examine employment trends and determine the sector development opportunities that will fuel job growth in the Cowichan region.
“The completed strategy gives us a more complete picture of the future demand for industrial land,” said Ian Morrison, Chair of the Cowichan Valley Regional District. “It’s important that we are prepared to meet this demand, with the capacity to work in partnership to realize new growth opportunities.”
Local government planners and industry stakeholders from across the region participated in the development of the Industrial Land Use Study, which identifies the ongoing need and desire to streamline development approval processes related to industrial land. Of the 51 industrial park business respondents that participated in an EDC survey, 42% indicated they hope to expand at their current location or another site within the Cowichan region.
The strategy demonstrated that the current industry sectors with the greatest demand for industrial land in the region are mining and quarrying, manufacturing, wholesale trade, transportation and warehousing. Emerging sectors generating demand for industrial land include construction and design, manufacturing, specialty food processing and recreational cannabis. Also on the horizon are jobs related to clean tech, aquaculture, transportation and warehousing and marine services.
“With only a small percentage of the total land base in Cowichan zoned or designated as industrial, the need to manage, develop and expand the footprint of key employment lands must be a priority for local government if the diversification of our local employment base is to continue,” said Amy Melmock, Manager of Economic Development Cowichan.
Cowichan currently has a competitive cost advantage over neighboring regions when it comes to industrial lands with prices that are significantly lower than the Lower Mainland, Langford and Victoria. To take advantage of the competitive advantages in the region, the Cowichan Industrial Land Use Strategy calls upon local governments to support land intensification and the adoption of highest and best use standards at strategically located industrial parks throughout the region.
For Economic Development Cowichan, the strategy has provided an opportunity to build relationships within local government and to collaborate with regional industry players, landowners and First Nations representatives through the formation of an Industry Advisory Panel.
Over the coming fiscal year, EDC will act on the strategy’s key recommendations by supporting the development of a Food Processing Feasibility Strategy and embarking on an Air Transport Study that may illuminate opportunities for industrial land partnerships. EDC will also be updating its website to provide up-to-date information on commercial and industrial lands, and to highlight key industry players in Cowichan.
To view the Cowichan Industrial Land Use Strategy click here.