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Amazon’s B.C. footprint tops 10k workers

Amazon's hiring moving at a clip this year
Amazon's new Vancouver office under construction on West Georgia Street | Photo: Chung Chow, BIV Inc.’s (Nasdaq:AMZN) ever-expanding B.C. footprint has now topped 10,000 workers. 

The figure provided in Amazon’s 2021 impact report, released Friday, includes the 3,500 tech workers based at the Amazon Web Services offices in Vancouver as well as a mix of full-time and part-time workers employed in other capacities such as at warehouses.

Amazon ramps up hiring at its warehouses each year ahead of the holiday shopping season but an Amazon spokeswoman told BIV all 10,000 workers in the report are permanent hires. The company did not provide an answer when asked about the number of temporary workers hired leading up to the holidays.

Amazon’s expansion throughout B.C. has been moving at a clip this year.

Back in May, it revealed plans to hire more than 2,000 employees in Metro Vancouver to staff five buildings. One building included a 450,000-square-foot Vancouver facility described as an advanced robotics fulfilment centre at the Port of Vancouver.

Amazon followed up in June by announcing it would hire an additional 1,800 tech workers between its Vancouver and Toronto offices. An exact breakdown of how many new hires would be based out of those two cities was not available.

Toronto is presently home to 2,000 tech workers and 20,000 full-time and part-time workers employed in other capacities, according to Friday’s report.

The company has four fulfillment centres in B.C., one sortation centre in Langley and six delivery stations across Metro Vancouver. In addition to the tech hub in Vancouver, it also has a corporate office in Victoria, where subsidiary AbeBooks operates.

Last fall, the Seattle-based company said it would hire an additional 3,000 workers for its AWS facilities in Vancouver as it committed to take up an additional 680,000 square feet of the old Canada Post building on West Georgia Street.

The iconic, boxy building will see two towers sprouting from the classic façade, while Amazon will lease 18 floors from the building’s North Tower and 17 floors from its South Tower with at least 6,000 workers.

Development is expected to be completed in 2023.

Amazon embarked on a search for an “HQ2” in 2017, issuing an opening invitation to cities across North America to make a pitch as to why they should host the company’s second home.

It eventually whittled 238 bids down to 20 – Toronto being the only Canadian city to make the short list — before deciding its HQ2 would be split between two locations in New York City and Virginia.

The company planned at the outset of the HQ2 campaign to invest US$5 billion in the local economy over 15-17 years while hiring as many as 50,000 employees (its Seattle presence already included 40,000 employees across 33 buildings occupying 8.1 million square feet at the time).

But since the HQ2 bid, Amazon has taken an increasing liking to Vancouver, committing in November 2017 to hire an additional 1,000 workers in the city.

Canadian e-commerce giant Shopify Inc. (TSX:SHOP) backed away from its January 2020 plans to hire 1,000 West Coast workers for a new four-storey, 70,000-square-foot office in downtown Vancouver at the outset of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Amazon, however, told BIV in May 2020 it had no plans to back out of its expansion plans for the city.

—With a file from Glen Korstrom

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