Skip navigation

Vancouver suffers from a crushing combination of low wages and high cost of living. That’s not good for workers who live here or the businesses who struggle to recruit and retain them. Meanwhile, many companies can’t even find the space they need to produce goods, provide services and create jobs.

OneCity’s economic development strategy will get Vancouver working — working for everyone and working on the challenges we face. 

Give businesses room to grow


Most of Vancouver’s problems boil down to space. Not only do we need more homes for workers to live, we also need more space for employers to thrive. Retail space, offices and industrial lands are hard to come by for anybody who wants to start or grow a business in this city. OneCity will encourage more mixed-use development and provide Vancouverites room to work.

  1. Allow for grocery stores, cafes, restaurants and small-scale retail shops in all neighbourhoods. 
  2. Lower office building setback requirements to maximize floor plans and therefore jobs, while keeping space for wide sidewalks, bike lanes, bike parking, new patios and street trees.
  3. Grant density bonuses for buildings that incorporate city-owned floor space for non-profit organizations and cultural treasures that otherwise couldn’t afford new commercial rents.
  4. Explore the creation of a commercial tenant board to provide oversight and protect small businesses.
  5. Develop policies to favour local businesses over giant chain retailers.
  6. Protect culturally significant businesses and business districts such as the Punjabi Market, Joyce-Collingwood and Chinatown using heritage designations. Relieve pressure on these areas by expanding commercial space across the city.
  7. Allow light industrial like dry labs or artisans to mix with commercial, office and retail zoning to free up space for traditional manufacturing, warehouses and industrial shops.
  8. Offer combined live-work industrial and residential zoning to uses like art spaces that do not produce noise or air pollution.
  9. Strengthen efforts to protect existing industrial and commercial land and allow greater density on these lands to reduce sprawl and create well-paying jobs. 
  10. Respect the Metro Vancouver Industrial Land Reserve within Vancouver, work to protect industrial lands across the region and lobby for a provincial industrial land reserve.
  11. Bring more hotel rooms to Vancouver by allowing them in more neighbourhoods and require some large developments to include hotels to promote tourism. This will also create more unionized jobs for hotel workers.

Create an economy with purpose


In every challenge lies an opportunity and Vancouver has many of both. There’s a whole lot of work to do to respond to the climate emergency, end the housing shortage, and tackle income inequality. That means new jobs and new enterprises. OneCity will task the Vancouver Economic Commission (VEC) to develop a strategy for a clean and fair economy, that helps all residents and businesses share in our prosperity.

  1. Use vacant or unproductive land from the property endowment fund for things like arts and culture, social enterprises or co-op businesses.
  2. Mandate the VEC to build community wealth through worker-owned enterprises, worker solidarity centres, community development corporations, investment co-ops, and community land trusts.
  3. Instruct the VEC to include a strong circular economy component within its strategy.
  4. Require the VEC to address workforce planning to solve regional labour supply challenges and plan for a just transition to a sustainable economy.
  5. Work with Destination Vancouver to help the tourism sector eliminate pollution.
  6. Work with the Host Nations, Indigenous tourism organizations and Destination Vancouver to decolonize local tourism by reintroducing place names, identifying significant cultural sites, and promoting other Indigenous priorities.
  7. Encourage clean goods delivery models such as micro logistics hubs and electric delivery fleets.
  8. Enhance procurement standards to prioritize local buying in ways that promote equity and reduce the “green premium.”

Make it easier to start a business


It is painfully hard to open a business in the City of Vancouver. High costs and lengthy wait times for permits favour large corporations with more access to capital and institutional experience. Small businesses struggle to jump through the necessary hoops. OneCity will simplify and demystify the process, giving us all more treasured local restaurants and shops to enjoy.

  1. Create a simple application process for permits with pre-approved conditions for common businesses like breweries or yoga studios so all people need to do is agree to meet those requirements.
  2. Encourage the province to pass the Split Assessment Act, which would allow municipalities to offer targeted tax relief to small businesses.
  3. Relax zoning restrictions so any business that complies with existing community plans doesn’t require further consultation. 
  4. Support staff in a review of permitting processes to find efficiencies, reduce barriers, and prioritize climate and equity goals.

Get supply chains working again


The Port of Vancouver is Canada’s largest and many of the goods Canadians use arrive through our city. But logistical challenges in recent years have made it difficult for Vancouver businesses to stock their shelves and storerooms. Pollution from long-haul trucking is a key driver of global warming and truckers are often contractors with low wages and benefits. OneCity will help get products moving more efficiently through our city to eliminate traffic, reduce pollution and create high-quality jobs. 


  1. Mandate the VEC to work with freight and goods movement companies to better coordinate logistics.
  2. Encourage short-sea shipping to get trucks off roads, move goods more efficiently with far less pollution and create union jobs with better pay and benefits.
  3. Promote more rail shipping and streamline railway crossings to take polluting, inefficient truck traffic off Vancouver’s streets and create union jobs with better pay and benefits.
  4. Protect port, railway and warehouse lands along the Burrard Inlet and the Fraser River with the long-term goal of more efficient logistics with less polluting trucks. 
  5. Encourage using cycling for goods movement and logistics wherever possible.

Michael Tan,
tech finance executive

"I don't do endorsements. But I do comment on policy. What I like is seeing a proposal like OneCity's for creating vibrant neighbourhoods that people want to live in, filled with grocery stores, cafes, and character."

Colin Brumelle,
Vancouver tech leader and CEO, ChopShop Mediaworks

"As a businessperson and tech leader in Vancouver, I know what it takes to found, and grow, an enterprise. This economic development plan proves that OneCity gets it. From ending the shortage of industrial land and fixing our supply chains, to substantially simplifying the permitting process, to simply increasing the amount of office space - this is a plan to build a growing, thriving, prosperous city for everyone."

Get OneCity Updates

OneCity is fighting for the services that Vancouver families need: affordable housing, climate action, and public safety.