As we enter 2020, we enter a new decade. With that, comes the opportunity to re-imagine and think big about the positive role the business community can play in our future. There are many important factors shaping our outcomes.
In 2019 alone, over 46,000 new residents moved to our region. Estimates are we will add an additional million residents over the coming decades. At the same time, we continue to attract record levels of visitors seeking to explore the best B.C. has to offer. In 2018, we welcomed over 2.2M visitors to our city, and with a projection and need to meet the demands of 1 million people and over 500,000 jobs by 2050, we need to start planning for our collective future today.
This past April, Metro Vancouver and 21 municipalities began updating Metro 2050 – the regional growth strategy – which represents the collective vision for how our region is going to accommodate this growth. The strategy is being undertaken to consider significant drivers of change, integrate with Transport 2050 (Translink’s Regional Transportation Strategy), and to implement policy improvements. The Board of Trade is working closely with Members and partners to ensure the voice of its membership is heard as we help shape the direction of those plans.
Translink’s planning is crucial as regional growth has led to some acute challenges, especially congestion both for people and goods. In 2018, Translink led North American transit agencies in ridership growth. 2019 also saw an impressive 4.3 per cent growth.
As we continue to lead in transit oriented development, we remain constrained by geography. We will need additional investments from all levels of government in the coming years and through Transport 2050, to reduce congestion and increase the quality of life in the region.
As a business owner who exports to over 50 countries, I am keenly aware of the need to support the movement of goods throughout the region. As Canada’s pacific gateway, we have seen substantial growth in trade flow. The Port of Vancouver and terminal operators have shipped 147 million tonnes of cargo in 2018. In 2019, there was continued investment by the federal government and port sector to improve the flow of goods. This year and beyond, these investments must continue and increase.
As our city continues to become an interconnected hub via airports, ports, rail, and roadways, we must collaborate, bring our businesses together, and work for a brighter future for current and inbound residents. There is lots of work to be done as greater emphasis is being put on sustainability, climate change, and accessibility – with competitive markets also working to improve their offering. Greater opportunity
awaits as the Canada-United States-Mexico Agreement (CUSMA) looks to be ratified, and under a new federal government and the pending 2020 US Election, we must concurrently grow our relationships to continue diversifying our trading partnerships across the globe.
While our population continues to grow, building enough housing has remained a challenge. A total of 19,000 net new housing units were built in 2019 but a flurry of new taxes and fees are projected to slow new developments in the coming years. Meanwhile, municipal processes continue to bog down many projects planned for the region. As a testament to what can be done when municipal planning processes are not applied, the Squamish Nation recently announced a plan for an additional 6,000 units of rental housing.
The development could generate billions for the Squamish Nation over the lifetime of the project and could be used to support youth and elders among the region’s affordability crisis. As affordable and attainable housing remains a key challenge for the future, leaders in the region must double down and improve the process for approving and advancing new developments.
This next decade holds immense promise for the Greater Vancouver region. The business community will continue to advocate for policies to improve the lives of citizens and help the region’s economy to grow.
Kari Yuers is the 2019-20 Chair of the Greater Vancouver Board of Trade. She also serves as President and CEO of Kryton International.