The Flats plays a vital role in Vancouver’s local and regional economy.


  • The Flats contains more than 600 businesses and 8000 employees. It represents 10% of Vancouver’s wholesale, manufacturing and waste management jobs.
  • Employment is expected to triple in the next 15 years, bringing significant economic opportunity to the district. For instance, new institutional anchors, including a new hospital, university campus, and district energy utility create opportunity for expanding clusters in health, the arts, and the green economy. increased employment density can also help sustain the amenities and social spaces needed to develop an innovation district.
  • Increased employment density, however, also creates new challenges for the Flats, including increased competition for space. The Flats makes up 15% of Vancouver’s industrial land base, and demand for centrally located industrial space in Vancouver is outstripping supply, reducing the vacancy rate for industrial space in Vancouver to 1.2% in recentyears.
  • Competition for light industrial space is creating an affordability crisis that threatens the prosperity of the region. Between the summer of 2015 and the summer of 2016, industrial land values rose by 50% in the Flats while the industrial vacancy rate dropped to 1.2%. This competition for space and associated leaps in land value are now threatening the viability of industrial uses on industrial land. 


We’ve developed an economic strategy for the future of The Flats

The Economic Development Strategy for the Flats has been developed to balance the opportunities and risks associated with employment densification in the Flats. This strategy demonstrates how the Flats can serve as both a thriving industrial district and a dense innovation district, an anchor for key economic clusters and a demonstration district for emerging approaches to sustainability and resilience.