Since 2010, Amazon has made direct investments of more than $40 billion into Canadian operations, from capital expenditures such as building out data infrastructure to operating expenditures, including wages for 45,000 full- and part-time employees throughout the country.
This investment has resulted in Amazon contributing $33 billion to Canada’s GDP over the same time frame, according to an independent analysis from economic consulting firm Keystone Strategy.
The province of British Columbia has been the recipient much of this investment from Amazon. Vancouver is home to one of only two Amazon Tech Hubs in Canada, for example, which supports thousands of tech-related roles.
The other Tech Hub is in Toronto, unsurprisingly, with Ontario housing a majority of Amazon workers. But BC is a strong second region for Amazon in Canada, according to the company’s 2023 Canada Impact Report, which showcases the various ways the company has made its mark in the country—from 200 million Prime parcels delivered quarterly (as of Q3 2023) to increased Canadian involvement in Prime Video content.
Amazon currently employs more than 10,000 people in BC, the report shows, or nearly one-quarter of the company’s total workforce in Canada.
We at Techcouver have been reporting on Amazon’s ambitious expansion plans in BC for several years now. For example, Amazon has taken over The Post. Formerly Vancouver’s main regional processing facility for Canada Post, the reimagined Post features 1.1 million square feet of office space and 185,000 square feet of retail.
To illustrate the company’s presence in the region: Amazon intends to lease 18 floors in the building’s North Tower and 17 floors in its South Tower as the sole corporate tenant.
Why does Amazon lean in on Vancouver so heavily?
Beyond geography strategic to Amazon’s business, Vancouver boasts Canada’s third largest metropolitan area by tech employment, with a workforce nearly 150,000 strong, according to CompTIA’s “State of Workforce.”
Moreover, tech as a sector is dominant in the region’s broader workforce: tech workers make up nearly 9% of Vancouver’s total workforce, the second-highest rate in Canada behind Toronto (10%).
“As one of Canada’s foremost economic hubs catering to a wide range of tech startups and well-established companies, Vancouver boasts a relatively healthy employment market that serves to accommodate both foreign and domestic professionals in innovative fields,” the 2023 “Canadian Tech Occupiers Guide” from real estate firm Colliers reads.
Despite cost-of-living concerns and cut-throat competition from nearby Seattle and Silicon Valley, the West Coast city is bucking the national trend of sky-high vacancy rates for tech offices, data-crunching from Colliers found. While enduring a state of flux, the regional market remains in solid shape—at least relative to the rest of the country.
Vancouver retains the lowest vacancy rate market in Canada, with the tech sector posting the highest demand for office space over the last decade, according to Colliers. The city’s office lease vacancy rate of 8.6% in 2023 is below that of Toronto (11%), Montreal (15%), and Waterloo (13%), among others.
Across all of BC, there are 190,000 techies, who represent 6.5% of the workforce, and 6,400 tech firms.