Canada’s Pacific Gateway — a tax-friendly business climate, thriving economy, talent magnet, world-class living standards

Strategically located on the Pacific coast, Vancouver is consistently rated as one of the world’s most liveable cities with the lowest business tax costs of 41 global cities

Vancouver is the “Pacific Gateway”, with a diverse economy of strong traditional industries such as transportation, tourism, forestry and mining, together with rapidly growing knowledge industries, particularly in the creative and green sectors. Today’s Vancouver is taking advantage of its multicultural population and its proximity to Asia, connecting local entrepreneurs to opportunities in the world’s fastest growing economies.

The city’s “Creative” economy, especially the film production, digital media, video gaming, animation and visual effects sectors, are expanding rapidly. The information and communications technology sector is highlighted by a thriving wireless industry supported by the Wavefront Accelerator Centre, Canada’s national centre of excellence in wireless innovations.

Also growing fast is Vancouver’s “Green” economy. Vancouver aspires to be the greenest city in the world by 2020 as stipulated in the City’s Greenest Action City Plan. In 2011, Vancover was ranked the greenest city in Canada by Corporate Knights, and second greenest city in North America by Siemens /Economist Intelligence Unit. The Green sectors include clean tech, clean energy, green buildings, urban design, local food, and environmental services. One example of how the city is actively pursuing its Greenest City goals is through the Campus City Collaborative ( C-3 ), now in its second year. C-3 partner institutions work with students, academics and employers to identify the talent and training needed to support green jobs and city goals.

Vancouver’s educational institutions have an outstanding reputation. The University of British Columbia and Simon Fraser University are both ranked in the top 200 universities worldwide and have extensive linkages to peer universities in Asia and elsewhere. Other important institutions include the BC Institute of Technology (BCIT), the Emily Carr University of Art + Design and the Vancouver Film School.

Why Vancouver

Vancouver offers many advantages to businesses seeking to invest in a new business location:

  • Highly desirable tax regime, with significant incentives to key industries and for R&D
  • Well educated workforce, supported by a highly-rated education system, and important research organizations, such as the Michael Smith Foundation for Health Research
  • Top international ranking for liveability which is a highly attractive factor for mobile employees as is the strong community support for “green” efforts
  • As one of the most multi-cultural cities in the world, companies engaged in global marketing gain a real advantage
  • The most entrepreneurial city in Canada, with the highest proportion of artists
  • Consistent award winner for one of the best international airports in the world, with air connections to Asia and all of North America
  • Excellent global reputation for hosting major international events, such as the Vancouver 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games
  • Some of the lowest energy costs in North America with primarily clean energy
  • Closest major port to Asian markets; number one North American port for foreign shipments and the only port serviced by three transcontinental railways.

Business advantage

The Vancouver Economic Commission (VEC) is the city’s economic development agency, working directly with business, government and institutional partners to attract and retain businesses, and expand key industry sectors. The economic vision is focused on a high performing economy that successfully leverages the city’s global profile and its momentum as a centre of innovation and entrepreneurship.

Vancouver’s economic development strategy is to meld economic indicators and business development strategies into a balanced correlation with social and environmental practices. The outcomes are increased employment, boosted investment, and the kind of socio-economic security that leads to even greater achievements in community management and urban development.

The majority of the economic plan’s activities focus on changes that will continually improve Vancouver’s business climate, support existing local businesses and facilitate new investment, while attracting the human capital essential to the future.

Future plans

The VEC’s Economic Action Strategy provides 160 actions, measures, business-support programs and outcomes for how the VEC will work with partners to enhance local economic performance. The foundation of the strategy is based on Vancouver’s economic assets and attributes, and focuses on mature sectors as well as emerging growth sectors. Highlights include:

  • A Green and Smart Enterprise Zone that showcases and nurtures innovation in globally emerging sectors like clean tech and green buildings
  • Working with partners to develop a technology incubation centre
  • Increased trade with new global markets targeting Asia and South America
  • Promotion of local innovations and innovators by leveraging global partnerships
  • Strengthening Vancouver’s creative sector by providing critical infrastructure and developing strategies that position Vancouver as a destination for business and investment
  • Protecting and enhancing liveability and affordability in the city
  • Working to retain and attract talent, through collaboration with senior governments, local businesses and Canadian expatriate associations.

Download a PDF version of this profile here.