The Spheres at the Amazon campus in Seattle (Instagram – @field_condition)

Vancouver Island mayor looking to bring Amazon headquarters to B.C.

New headquarters could bring up to 50,000 jobs and billions of dollars to the local economy

Amazon recently announced it is accepting bids to open a second headquarters in North America and Langford Mayor Stew Young is looking to put Vancouver Island at the top of that list.

“This would be the type of business we need on the Island,” Young said. “It fills a void we would have in the tech industry.”

Seattle is home to the current headquarters and from 2010 to 2016, Amazon estimated an additional $38 billion was invested into the city’s economy. The company said they expect to invest more than $5 billion in construction and grow the second location to be equal to the current operation in Seattle.

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“The timing in Langford is perfect,” Young said, adding that a Canadian site makes sense with the dollar being lower. “We have all the right boxes ticked off.”

With roughly 50 acres of land available on both sides of the Leigh Road overpass (just outside of Victoria) that’s already zone for this use – and the potential to expand on that – Young said “we’ve got more land than they’ll need … the opportunity there is amazing.”

With zoning and other covenants already in place, Young joked council could even rename Leigh Road after Amazon.

In addition to the land, Young noted there’s also a great talent pool to draw from already on the Island and the lifestyle Greater Victoria offers aligns with the company’s standards. “The lifestyle is very important … and I think we fit it very well,” he added.

The request for proposals opened on Sept. 7 and they are due by Oct. 19. The announcement for the final site selection is scheduled for 2018. On the Amazon website, the company explained why it turned to a public appeal to help find its next location. “We want to find a city that is excited to work with us and where our customers, employees, and the community can all benefit,” the statement said.

With the potential for a 10-year build out that would bring up to 50,000 jobs and an 8-million-square-foot build to the Island, Young noted the auxiliary businesses needed to support that would benefit not just Langford but the entire region.

He added that with Sooke and the Bamberton area so close, housing for all of those employees could also be spread into other communities. “The commute would be very minimal,” he said, adding it would actually help alleviate some of the congestion on the Trans-Canada Highway by drawing commuters away from the core.

Young has been in talks with a number of major landowners and he noted they are all in favour of the idea, with some even approaching him after seeing Amazon’s call for bids. “We all phoned each other on the same day,” he said with a laugh.

Young added the City also started talks Friday with post secondary institutions in the region as there would be even more demand for satellite campuses on the West Shore.

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