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Exploring development opportunities in Mission

Silverdale lands form the largest tract of consolidated land available for development in the Lower Mainland.

About 70 per cent of growth in southwestern B.C. will happen in the Fraser Valley, according to the Urban Development Institute, which hosted a breakfast meeting in Mission this week to discuss development opportunities.

Morgan Dyer, senior vice-president at Colliers International and a speaker at the event, presented a video marketing the 1,100 acres of land for sale in Silverdale. The properties are currently owned by development companies Genstar and Madison, and form the largest tract of consolidated land available for development in the Lower Mainland.

Dyer noted housing starts generally reflect interest rates, and single family detached homes are still the highest form of housing in demand.

In 1989, there were 1,200 houses built in the Fraser Valley, but in 2014, with low interest rates, there were only about 400 constructed.

It’s only a matter of time when interest rates and housing starts will increase, he said.

“The trend we need to be aware of is to forecast where development will happen,” said Dyer.

Trends Dyer identified included more mixed use developments with smaller units, and increased building along transit lines, like the new SkyTrain tracks in Coquitlam.

He noted Asian developers coming to the B.C. market are here to stay and they should be welcomed with “open arms.” The local industry needs to be innovative and think outwardly.

The future of Mission has been tied to the Genstar properties in Silverdale for more than 20 years, said Mayor Randy Hawes. “But there’s a lot more to Mission than those properties.”

More development should’ve come to the community many years ago, added Hawes, who said he and the current council are committed to removing roadblocks in order to grow the community.

“But I have a great fear that if we develop without a job base or industrial land, we will pour commuters on the highway every day, and we’ll have a problem.”

That’s why Hawes wants to take the properties west of the Silver Creek Industrial Park out of the Agricultural Land Reserve.

“It’s perfect for industrial use,” said Hawes, pointing out it’s close to the highway, rail, and the U.S. border.

According to Hawes, there are many manufacturing plants in Metro Vancouver that want to expand, but are prohibited by land costs and availability.

Westack Development’s Ole Bakstad, an experienced industrial land developer in Mission, agrees. He has built several buildings at Mission’s new industrial park and said they are being rented out as quickly as they are going up.

“It’s important to have a good industrial base,” advised Bakstad. “Maple Ridge has kind of exhausted its industrial land.”

Investing in industrial buildings is a long-term project, said Bakstad, who doesn’t expect to see a quick return on his investment.

“I’m not making a profit on my buildings on my property, but my son might. I’m building for the future.”

The event was sponsored by the District of Mission and attended by close to 90 people.