Stephen Rees's blog

Thoughts about the relationships between transport and the urban area it serves

Steveston Waterfront

with 8 comments


Take a look at the web page set up by Onni that looks to raise support for broadening permitted uses on the waterfront at the BC Packers site. The buildings are already under construction. The idea that these will accommodate Richmond’s preferred uses “marine industrial” is fanciful. Onni’s is even worse. Here is what I submitted. What do you think?

The question is disingenuous – and the use of a banner stating “I support” that remains in place when looking at any page (and no banner for any other position) shows just how one-sided this process is. No information is presented on need. Nor is any information presented to assess what other uses might be appropriate. Is the best you can come up with a simple repetition of every other suburban shopping centre? Steveston is a destination full of people wandering around and looking for something to do. Apart from a few pubs and many restaurants – plus the boat yard at one end and the cannery at the other – there is in fact very little for visitors to do in Steveston. Most come to eat fish and chips, or drink coffee. Onni needs to show that it understands what makes for destination attraction, to build Steveston’s appeal and retain visitor interest. Ordinary retail is just not good enough. We need something as interesting as Granville Island – but sufficiently different and preferably tied into to the history of the place. Go and do some research – talk to the Rouse Corporation (Faneuil Hall in Boston) or the people who did Covent Garden in London. I do not support your proposal. Nor do I think that the City’s idea of marine industry is viable. What we need here is some imagination.


Maybe the Rouse Corporation is not such a good place to go. The Architect’s Newspaper Blog looks at what is now proposed for New York’s South Street Seaport now that ownership has changed.

The design is a huge departure from the desolate barn-like mall developed by the Rouse Corporation in the 1980s, where to this day nachos and tropical cocktails remain de rigueur. The new owner, the Howard Hughes Corporation, hopes to bring New Yorkers back to one of the most spectacular sites in town, while welcoming tourists and not quarantining them in a thematic trap.

Written by Stephen Rees

February 22, 2012 at 9:09 pm

Posted in Urban Planning

Tagged with , , ,

8 Responses

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  1. “there is in fact very little for visitors to do in Steveston. Most come to eat fish and chips, or drink coffee”

    That is very British! I suggest they is a fishermen wharf where lot of people buy fish, shrimps, and sea urchin… choice is quite limited (no oyster, mussel…), but price can be decently good.

    also beyond oily fish &chips, there is a couple of good restaurant, like Tapenade Bistro… …When i come here I buy my bread to a Romanian baker on Moncton-I warmly recommend his real country bread …(see more at )

    But you are right, the Onni proposal is absolutely missing the lowest expectation for the site:
    I think they need to get some inspiration from Sai Kung (Hong Kong), or Brittany (France) fishermen village…to start to present something decent.



    February 22, 2012 at 10:43 pm

  2. I agree, there isn’t much to do other than eat and a short walk. What about a small theatre that can show documentaries, do village/ community entertainment on stage, have speakers, a community band.
    I saw the board and simply thought corporate propaganda again.
    Plus more residents, more congestion. So what about a car co-op, a small park n ride, a bicycle rental checkpoint as they have all over Copenhagen, a seaside, fairly flat City like Richmond?

    susan hodges

    February 23, 2012 at 9:09 am

  3. Where is the “I reject!” button?


    February 24, 2012 at 12:24 am

  4. The interesting link between Granville Island and Steveston is that both were designed by Hotson & Baker. I go to Steveston to see how the patient is doing. And I go to Granville Island to see who a truly inventive scenario developed by CMHC and Al Capp is fairing after three decades.

    My hunch about Steveston is that it could capitalize on what Granville Island never did: build residential right into the mix. There is a copy-cat development in Oakland, Jack London Square, that is trading on more or less the same dilemma. When there is not enough reason to go there, build in the ‘visitors’ right into the place.

    What are the transit options there, anyone?

    lewis n. villegas

    February 24, 2012 at 11:06 am

  5. Lewis asks “What are the transit options there, anyone?”

    “This area is very well connected to Brighouse, with a bus every 2-3mn in peak hours, but does this high level of service is visible to the transit rider?

    Nope… and that illustrates the problem already raised with the 699B: it is more often a lack of visibility of the level of service that a lack of service itself people will complain of, and in Steveston it is storytelling:

    4 bus routes connect it to Brighouse. That translates in 4 different bus stops in different directions along Chatham: here there is lot of room for improvement. A single bus stop -on the model of Marine Drive loop- is the obvious first step. A better location than Chatham for the bus terminus is the second step…”



    February 24, 2012 at 6:37 pm

  6. It would be a great place to rent a bike, there is nice bike riding to the east and north west along the dykes. There is the Finn Slough for example not too far away. (7km)


    February 27, 2012 at 12:27 pm

  7. Tim – you can rent bikes in Steveston

    Stephen Rees

    February 29, 2012 at 10:35 am

  8. I would love to see a Thifty’s or Whole Food, on the wharf, nice bistro to sit out, etc.

    It needs some sophistication…or shops like granville island.

    Shari Robins

    March 14, 2012 at 5:08 pm

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