Business in Vancouver

Canadian city's business owners fear housing costs are hurting bottom line

'This isn’t just a housing issue anymore, it’s a business issue,' says Burnaby Board of Trade CEO

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 31 August, 2016, 5:16am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 31 August, 2016, 11:38am

High housing costs in the Lower Canadian Mainland are making it difficult for Burnaby businesses to find employees, a survey by the Burnaby Board of Trade has found.

The board interviewed more than 80 business owners in the city. Asked, “which of the following issues is important to your business or is having an impact on your business,” 46 per cent of owners named housing and real estate.

Attracting and retaining staff was identified as an important issue by 49 per cent of owners, while transportation and traffic was named by 55 per cent of respondents.

“Many businesses directly linked the two issues of labour attraction and real estate, blaming the high cost of housing as contributing to their difficulties in attracting and retaining employees,” the board said in a release.

Paul Holden, the board’s president and CEO, said the organisation is “very concerned with how many businesses see the high cost of real estate as having both direct and indirect negative impacts on their bottom lines. This isn’t just a housing issue anymore, it’s a business issue.”

According to the report, businesses are concerned that continued growth will hurt their bottom line, as increased density worsens traffic congestion.

Even with these concerns, Burnaby business owners are generally happy with their location. Most small business owners say that location is reason they like conducting their business in Burnaby, at 95 per cent. Over 70 per cent say transportation and accessibility is a benefit of doing business in Burnaby. Thirty per cent said workspace affordability was a strength. However, several noted that rising real estate costs were diminishing this advantage.

Concerns related to minimum wage, taxes and climate change werethe least widely held at 20 per cent, 26 per cent and 17 per cent respectively.

Asked whether they would stay in the city if they had to move from their current premises, 90 per cent said they would. Over a third said that a business friendly environment was the reason they would remain in the city.