Remediation Close for BC Rail Land

It will take one more year to remediate BC Rail land in North Yards. BCR plans on marketing the property for commercial use.

By Gagandeep Ghuman
Published: June 16, 2012

Peter Dickson of Fraserwood Industries has seen big trucks roll in everyday for land remediation at the BC Rail North Yard site for almost six years now.

In a year or so, those trucks will be gone.

BC Rail is close to remediating its property in North Yards, west of the rail tracks, near the West Coast Railway Association.

BCR estimates 12 to 18 months to complete the remediation and obtain a certificate from the Ministry of Environment, said Kate Trotter, spokesperson of Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure.

Trotter said once the Certificate of Compliance is obtained, BCR will to market the surplus property for sale on a commercial basis.

She did not give details on how the approx. 80 acre property will be divvied up.

According to one well-defined BCR plan, the entire property would be cut into commercial parcels. Most of them would be one-acre lots, but there would be some bigger lots too.

The land is currently zoned industrial, and its remediation could stimulate the economy, and help create the much-needed jobs.

It’s a good place for new business to locate and does represent economic potential in terms of jobs and taxes, said Coun. Doug Race.

The land, Race said, is appraised at $15 million or higher, and isn’t a good buy for the district.

It’s better for a private developer or user to purchase, he said.

“The bringing of the lands to market should, by itself, create some interest and hopefully result in business locating here,” he said.

Race also said the district can provide information to potential developers, but is not permitted to “provide assistance” to relocate here.

Coun. Ran Sander has a different opinion.

While he agrees that the district shouldn’t buy the land, he believes the district should work diligently with BC Rail to market it to potential business proponents.

“This is a great opportunity for a fabricating or assembly type business that could receive equipment and materials through Squamish Terminals and deliver via CN Rail or the highway,” he noted.

Wood industry consultant Eric Andersen believes one-acre parcels might not be the best way forward, especially if heavy industry has to be attracted.

He believes the land is most suitable for “heavy” industry.

“The ‘locomotive’ enterprise — the assembler, the housing system core factory — needs space. More than one acre,” he said.

Andersen said a number of light industrial businesses are being pushed out of the downtown/Mamquam/Paco Road.

“The business park is costly—more so because of what has been allowed there,” he said.

 Businesses currently operating out of BC Rail hope the company will consider selling them the land, or renewing their lease.

Andrew Scott, who operates out of BC Rail Industrial land said his company paid an affordable rate for the lease.

As bigger decisions are made about the area, he hopes BC Rail will be sympathetic to his concerns.

“I really hope we can work something out with them,” he said.

Comments

  1. Jim Harvey says:

    Eric – It would be helpful if you could provide an example of a new heavy industry locating somewhere else in south western BC in the last 15 years that would demonstrate the likelihood of this occurring in Squamish and would therefore be something worth waiting for.

    Thanks

  2. Eric Andersen says:

    Thank you for this article on an important topic for Squamish. I am concerned my comments re. “heavy industry has to be attracted” as cited could be misleading. Many citizens and readers may not be aware of the “retail-commercial” type of activities allowable under current “Light Industrial” zoning, or that simply running a two shift plant operation with lights on and trucks coming and going means you may already be classified as “heavy” industry. We’re not talking smelters and chemical plants here.

    But not every potential manufacturing or logistics enterprise can suitably be located next to a yoga studio, professional offices or other activities that we have come to allow – really without much of a plan or strategy – in the next door “Business Park”.

    The District has allowed or is supporting rezoning of an enormous area of strategically valuable lands for industry (with rare, outstanding water, rail and or truck access) – to residential and mixed uses.

    Yes, some one-acre lots would be good for the BC Rail North Yards. But where are the future large manufacturing or distribution enterprises to locate – in the long term? What about those potential ‘locomotive’ businesses for which the potential larger (3 to 10 acre) parcels, and trucking and rail access available in the North Yards are of special interest?

    An overall industrial land strategy for District is sorely needed. An inclusive, well-informed economic development strategy dialogue is needed too! Then, as Ron Sander advocates, a collaborative marketing (and land use!) strategy for these BC Rail lands.

  3. Nate Dolha says:

    While I agree that the DOS should not purchase these lands, an investment into a truck bypass from there to SQTerm would certainly make this a much more attractive option for logistics dependent businesses, and would get the trucks out of our urban core.

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