How We Built It

Q&A: How Responsible Development is Powering Ontario’s James Snow Business Park

December 5, 2023

To meet critical undersupply Oxford is building the logistics infrastructure in Canada that keep our cities running. Through one of our largest Canadian logistics developments at James Snow Business Park (JSBP) we will be adding 3.3 million square feet to our existing portfolio of over 13 million square feet of logistics space in Canada. JSBP is a C$850 million master planned industrial development and represents a major investment in Ontario and Canada. The project is a keystone in Oxford’s overarching logistics strategy that today makes up Oxford’s largest portfolio allocation.

When we develop long view projects like JSBP there is beauty in details. To zoom in beyond the blueprints and get an on-the-ground account of how JSBP is creating economic and social value through real estate we spoke to Sarah Martin, Senior Director, Construction – Industrial and Talar Sarkissian, Director – Development.

Q: What attracted Oxford to the site at JSBP?

Sarah Martin: Our site is located in Milton, Ontario, one of Canada’s fastest-growing municipalities. JSBP will service the Greater Toronto Area, which has a critical shortage in logistics space. What makes this site very attractive is its proximity to the 401, a major transportation corridor. Big picture, this is an opportunity for us to improve local and global supply chains through an accessible and high-functioning facility built with the wellness of our customers and communities at its core.

Q: What makes JSBP stand out from other logistics facilities?

Talar Sarkissian: Our approach to sustainability. JSBP will feature 400,000 square feet of rooftop solar panels in its first phase alone. One of my favorite parts about this park is just how beautifully it is designed. It's a thoughtful park, built around the human experience, health, wellness, and it really highlights the environment. When we were working on this site, we put a lot of thought and effort into protecting, or even enhancing, the environment where we can.

SM: We engaged the likes of geomorphologists, civil engineers, the Town of Milton, Conservation Halton, and then going up to a federal level. Our processes were detailed and included collaboration with the Department of Fisheries and Oceans and consultation with Mississaugas of the Credit First Nation. We proudly worked alongside many stakeholders involved with the responsible realignment of these of waterways and ensuring that any species at risk were not harmed during the course of this development. Today we have introduced turtle nests, snake hibernacula and raptor logs - where birds of prey can take refuge and hunt. These are secured habitats that encourage the protection of wildlife.  

Q: Why did we build solar speculatively at JSBP?

TS: We installed the equivalent to seven football fields of solar on our roofs. With decarbonization and electrification top of mind in the industry, the ability to equip our customers with clean renewable power is a major differentiator in the market. Several potential customers have already expressed how much they appreciate the thought that has gone into this park.

Q: What has made this an impactful project to work on?

TS: To have the opportunity to dig into every detail on this project was incredible. For example – the slabs. Our team has a saying that ‘a building is only as good as its slab’. The slabs at James Snow are indicative of this. Extended joint slabs were used here, meaning the saw cuts are farther apart and more seamless. This may seem like a small thing, but it has a significant impact on our customers. Wider slabs reduce the jostling of forklifts and their operators, protecting the health and safety of our customers. It’s these little things that add up to something special.

Beyond that, the collaboration of our teams was outstanding on this project. Cross functionally, we had members of our teams on this project across the business from asset management, operations to investment to legal risk and accounting. This is a testament to our 360 capabilities.

SM: The most rewarding part of this project for me was the responsible approach we took to its development. To see these vital ecosystems preserved and the local community impact and job creation is something I am very proud of.  

As of Q4 2023 Oxford is closing in on completion of phase one, which includes four buildings totaling 1.5 million square feet. Follow along as we continue our development journey.