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ICBC vacating headquarters on North Vancouver waterfront in 2027

An announcement of what will replace the Crown corporation on prime City of North Vancouver property is expected ‘soon’
ICBC has announced plans to leave its North Vancouver headquarters in 2027. | Paul McGrath / North Shore News files

After occupying a flagship location on the North Vancouver waterfront for more than 40 years, ICBC has announced it will be packing up its headquarters there in 2027.

But what will replace it is so far being kept under wraps – pending an anticipated announcement.

The Crown corporation told employees Thursday it will vacate the 300,000-square-foot, six-story office tower on Esplanade Avenue for newer digs across Burrard Inlet at 2150 Keith Drive in Vancouver, a new building going up adjacent to the VCC Clark SkyTrain station.

The new Vancouver office will be about half the size of the one on the North Vancouver waterfront. ICBC has signed a 15-year lease, with options to renew.

The Crown corporation first announced it would be leaving its North Shore headquarters in 2022.

Spokesman Brent Shearer said with most of its 1,500 head office employees working from home part-time, having a huge office didn’t make sense anymore.

Currently, the North Vancouver office is only occupied between 20 to 40 per cent on any given day, he said.

When they do come to the office, 70 per cent of head office workers are commuting from off the North Shore.

While ICBC won’t be moving for another three years, the biggest question is what will happen to the prime waterfront property.

Shearer said an announcement about that is expected “soon.”

It’s believed that some kind of transit-oriented housing or neighbourhood community development involving the province is the most likely scenario.

The four-decade-old office building at 151 West Esplanade is known to be in poor shape.

Eight years ago, a leaked report prepared by ICBC at the direction of the previous Liberal government indicated the costs of maintenance and upgrades to be around $184 million, including $36 million for seismic upgrades.

North Vancouver MLA Bowinn Ma mused previously about the land potentially playing a part in future transit-oriented housing development. Ma also indicated at the time she’d like to see the land stay public rather than being sold off to private development interests.

City of North Vancouver Mayor Linda Buchanan has also indicated the city is keen to discuss future uses of the land with the province.

In an emailed statement, Buchanan said while the departure of ICBC means "a significant loss of public sector jobs in our community" it's also an exciting opportunity.

“It could serve as the site for a new business headquarters, accommodate a new hotel, or provide entertainment options," she said. "When combined with the venues currently within the Shipyards area, we have a unique opportunity to provide an extension of the convention centre across the water."

Buchanan said since  ICBC initially announced plans to leave Lower Lonsdale she has had many conversations with the province about "how different partners could come together to imagine the possibilities for this site. I look forward to continuing these conversations and advocating for a redevelopment that fosters economic growth, creates an iconic landmark on our waterfront, supports the needs of residents, and extends the incredible public realm experience we have delivered through the Shipyards."