British Columbia

'We are the best value option': Inside Vancouver's failed Amazon HQ2 bid

Toronto was the only Canadian city among the 20 finalists.

Vancouver pitched savings from city's proximity to Amazon's Seattle headquarters

Toronto was the only Canadian city to make the final 20 proposals considered for Amazon's second headquarters. (David Horemans/CBC)

Documents released by the Vancouver Economic Commission are shedding new light on Vancouver's failed attempt to woo Amazon's proposed new corporate headquarters, branded as HQ2, to B.C. 

The proposal details four main reasons for Vancouver to host HQ2. 

It argued for the city's proximity to Amazon's corporate base in Seattle as well as for Vancouver's track record of hosting high-tech global companies including Microsoft, Electronic Arts and Sony Pictures Imageworks. 

The pitch also asserted that Vancouver was "move-in ready," citing the city's ability to offer facilities of different sizes, locations and amenities. 

Finally, Vancouver argued it was the best value option, again citing the city's proximity to Seattle but adding that Amazon could save $34 billion US in office space, labour and health costs over a 10-year period compared to a location on the U.S. East Coast. 

The bid focused around four sites: one downtown, a second in Surrey's Innovation Boulevard area, a third in the Broadway Tech Centre near Rupert Station in East Vancouver, and the fourth close to Bridgeport Station in Richmond.

Vancouver utlimately failed to make the short list of cities in the running to host Amazon. Toronto was the only Canadian city to make the first cut.

The map from Vancouver's rejected Amazon HQ2 proposal shows the four sites the city pitched to the tech giant. (Vancouver Economic Commission)

Other points of emphasis included: 

  • Asserting that Vancouver is as affordable as Seattle, with the cost of home ownership comparable.
  • Highlighting the two-week processing time for high-skilled workers coming to Canada under the Global Skills Strategy program.
  • Projecting a growth of one million residents by 2040 as well as $7.5 billion in transportation capital spending by 2026.

The pitch was one of 238 submitted to Amazon before the company pared down the list to 20 finalists last month. 

The City of Langford on Vancouver Island also submitted a bid, as did Calgary, Edmonton, Winnipeg, Sault Ste. Marie, Windsor, Hamilton, Ottawa, Montreal and Halifax.

Besides Toronto, the other cities on the Amazon HQ2 short list are:

  • Boston.
  • New York City.
  • Newark, N.J.
  • Chicago.
  • Washington D.C.
  • Raleigh, N.C.
  • Northern Virginia.
  • Atlanta.
  • Miami.
  • Columbus, Ohio.
  • Los Angeles.
  • Dallas.
  • Austin, Texas.
  • Philadelphia.
  • Pittsburgh.
  • Indianapolis.
  • Denver.
  • Nashville.
  • Montgomery County, Md.

The company estimates Amazon HQ2 will employ up to 50,000 people in high-paying positions.

Amazon said it received 238 applications in total and that it expects to make a final decision later this year.