Employment Space Research

Background

Ensuring an increased supply of terrestrial and marine-based employment space, in pace with market demand, is a strategic priority for the District of Squamish. Adequate space means that local businesses can expand and new firms can locate in Squamish, translating into more jobs for our resident workforce.

Employment land and space is a strategic area of research and policy development for the District, and a key focus of our Economic Action Plan. As population grows in the District, we're conducting research to understand the employment space needs of our local sectors, the current capacity for different types of space, and future demand. With these insights, we're developing data-driven economic models, tools and resources to help ensure we have an appropriate supply of land and space to support future economic growth.

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Project Elements

The following priorities are being actioned in 2021 and 2022:

  1. Space Needs Research: qualitative research with local firms, to inform the characteristics of space and land that can support business growth in Squamish. Complete!

  2. Financial Viability Analysis: development of an economic modelling and forecasting tool to assist in understanding the local economic conditions of space and land, and the impacts on business viability. Complete!  

  3. Employment Lands Model 2.0: improving upon the first-generation Model, which was produced in May 2020 to inventory existing and planned supply of employment space throughout the District, and forecast potential demand for space over time. Three key improvements are planned: (1) incorporating neighbourhood-level analysis functionality, (2) further improving data sources used as model inputs, and (3) improving upon the user interface, enabling wider use of the tool among District staff.

  4. Guiding Principles for Employment Space: together with Community Planning, Economic Development staff will be integrating all of the District's relevant strategies, policies, and research completed to date, producing a set of guiding principles to inform consistent policy and decision-making across departments.
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Timeline

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Recent Research

Employment Lands Inventory and Model

In 2020, Economic Development teamed up with District Planning to complete an Employment Lands Inventory and Model. The goal of this project was to inventory existing and planned supply of employment space throughout the District, and forecast potential demand for space over time. The model relies on District data from business licencing, development, and construction, and incorporates third-party consumption data, as well as employment and firm forecasts. Moving forward, staff will continue to enhance the model’s accuracy through data, functionality, and supporting research.

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Space Needs for Business

Building on the Employment Lands Model and its quantitative insights, Economic Development staff conducted a significant qualitative research project, to help inform the characteristics of space that would be most ideal to support business vitality. This research involved in-depth interviews with 64 local businesses from a wide range of sectors across retail, office, light industrial, and medium industrial categories.

In particular, this research aims to elevate our understanding of the characteristics that would enable local businesses to efficiently scale, and intends to support policy, economic development, and private-sector actions to these needs.

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Employment Space Viability Analysis

The Squamish Employment Space Viability Analysis is intended to provide insights into the financial viability of employment space development throughout Squamish while assessing the financial viability of potential occupants by industry. This analysis does not replace the need for project-to-project Pro-forma analysis, it is intended to provide broad directional insight into the viability of development and access to new space throughout the District.

This work complements the Employment Space Research completed to date. In 2020 Economic Development and Planning teamed up to assess the existing and planned supply of employment space, and forecast potential demand over time, creating an Employment Space Demand Model. Subsequently, a Space Needs for Business qualitative analysis was completed, providing insights into the characteristics of the space that would be ideal to support business vitality. The 2021 Squamish Employment Space Viability Analysis assesses the financial viability of developing this space. 

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