Last month The Vancouver Sun published an article highlighting a recent trend in land development, where organizations like the First Nations, municipalities, universities, and health authorities are partnering with the private sector. This shift in land acquisition in the form of both land sales and leases is said to benefit not just those involved, but the community as a whole. This is because once vacant properties are developed into opportunities that offer financial and social benefits, creating job opportunities and supporting community goals.
Seeing the advantages, a variety of atypical organizations are joining forces with established developers. One example is Vancouver Coastal Health, who signed an agreement with the Onni Group for the sale of its Pearson-Dogwood lands. Another is the SCDC, who we discussed in a recent blog post, that merged forces with companies like Beedie, Bosa, and Townline to diversity Surrey’s skyline and economic growth. The Tsawwassen First Nations (TFN) is another notable group that has joined in, partnering with the Aquilini Investment Group to create a mixed-use complex that spans over 185 acres.
The city-approved Pearson Dogwood lands policy proposed from the Vancouver Costal Health and Onni Group. Photo Source: Vancouver Courier
A mutually beneficial relationship has helped propel this growing form of acquisition. Landowners can develop on a larger scale, spreading the risk evenly amongst both parties and creating opportunities in different sectors, like residential, retail, and industrial. In addition, the experience and knowledge that companies like Onni, Acquilini, and Bosa can bring to the table are vital for organizations like Fraser Health, who have limited knowledge in the development process.
For the public, it’s all about opportunity. Job openings, affordable housing, and community centres are just some of the immediate benefits for those in the area. Plus many organizations use the money from profits to reinvest into the public. These advantages have led British Columbia’s renowned universities to hop on the emerging trend. SFU has created UniverCity on Burnaby Mountain adjacent to SFU, and have put profits back into an endowment fund that supports teaching and research. UBC has also used land-lease revenues to help feed a $1.1-billion endowment fund.
For organizations like SCDC, TFN, and Fraser Health, these types of partnerships are key to moving forward and creating sustainable futures for their residents, employees, and communities.