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Amazon plans massive ‘robotic’ distribution centre in Richmond

E-commerce giant's 450,000-square-foot fulfillment centre at Port of Vancouver among plans for five new distribution hubs in Metro Vancouver
Amazon steps up plans for Metro Vancouver | Photo: Submitted

U.S. e-commerce giant Amazon plans to build five new distribution centres in Metro Vancouver, including a massive advanced robotics fulfillment centre at the Port of Vancouver.

Amazon did not provide exact addresses, but Western Investor sources say the 450,000-square-foot centre will be at the Port of Vancouver’s Richmond Logistics Hub.

Two years ago, Amazon secured 450,000 square feet at the Delta IPort industrial park, which is on land leased from the Tsawwassen First Nation.

Amazon estimates that the new centres will create up to 2,000 jobs, half of them at the Port of Vancouver site.

Other sites are in Vancouver, Pitt Meadows, Delta and Langley, the e-commerce giant announced May 7.

The retailer opened a 200-employee delivery station in Langley Township in mid-February. The other sites are slated to open later in 2021.

A new sorting centre is set to create 500 new jobs in the City of Langley.

Delivery stations in Pitt Meadows and in Delta are each expected to create several hundred jobs, according to Amazon.

There are rumours that Amazon is the tenant behind a large new distribution centre planned at Victoria International Airport, but this has yet to be confirmed.

Amazon said it currently employs 5,500 full- and part-time workers in B.C., which is its largest employment hub outside its home base of Washington State.

The company in 2019 said that it planned to triple its B.C. workforce, which then was more than 2,300 people.

Amazon said that it has invested more than $3 billion in B.C. in the past decade.

"This expansion by Amazon is an endorsement that B.C. is a desirable place for a global company to make a long-term commitment," said B.C. Minister of Jobs, Economic Recovery and Innovation Ravi Kahlon.

Amazon's distribution centres in the Lower Mainland include a 650,000-square-foot site on Braid Street, in New Westminster; a 200,000-square-foot facility on Annacis Island, in Delta; and a 1.2-million-square-foot distribution hub that sits on a 450,000-square-foot site in Tsawwassen.

Amazon also employs more than 1,500 office workers in downtown Vancouver and those workers have been in a shifting series of sites.

One subleased space had been at Bentall Centre.

Other sites with Amazon office workers include Telus Garden, at 510 West Georgia Street; the Exchange, at 475 Howe Street; and an Oxford Properties building at 402 Dunsmuir Street.

Amazon's largest office hub in downtown Vancouver is set to be at the Post building, at 349 West Georgia Street, when construction on that building is complete – likely in 2023.

Amazon has been incrementally leasing more space in that complex, and at last count intended to lease 1.1 million square feet at the Post.

"During the COVID pandemic we've seen exponential growth in online shopping in Canada," Retail Insider Media owner and retail analyst Craig Patterson told BIV.

"From an employment standpoint, the expansion speaks to Amazon's success as a retailer, and as a facilitator of other businesses that are selling on the Amazon platform."