Archive for May, 2015

Imperial Landing

Saturday, May 30th, 2015

The Elephant in the Room: A Discussion About Best Practices
Story by Sean Lawson

Imperial Landing, Steveston, Palla MediaThere is an elephant in the room, namely the Imperial Landing waterfront site, as the lower level of the development remains empty and its fate is unresolved.

I think it is fair to say that having the Imperial Landing waterfront occupied would be better than its current “ghost town” condition, but the implications of exactly how this occurs will impact many and shape our village experience for years to come.

The site is currently zoned Maritime Mixed Use (MMU). This zone would allow marine hardware and electronics, the manufacturing and repair of sails and canvas, marine surveyors, lawyers, insurance brokers and architects, marine related subtrades like plumbers and electricians, rigging shops, kayak, canoe and dingy retailers, etc. As an example, think of all the vibrant water-related operations observed on Granville Island. The intent of this zone was to support Steveston’s historic commercial fishing industry and maritime economy by providing appropriate space and opportunity.
The MMU zone was granted and accepted during the original rezoning of the 43 acre Imperial Landing site as a form of “community contribution,” much like a typical townhouse project must build a playground on-site as part of their requirements. In consideration, in part, of the MMU-zoned waterfront parcel, the developer was awarded a very diverse zoning mix for the balance of the site. This included the ability to build commercial retail units (Starbucks, etc.), seven four-storey apartment buildings, three townhouse subdivisions, and single family homes on Easthope and Ewen Avenues, Bayview Street, and Gerrard Place. In addition, there were no affordable housing or childcare conditions imposed on this development in lieu of the MMU “contribution.”

London Landing wharf, Steveston, Palla MediaThe City of Richmond is working on a plan for a pleasure craft marina in front of this site. Councilor Harold Steves has stated that it is his determined goal to make this happen over the next few years. This would be incredibly beneficial as the Steveston Harbour Authority reports they currently have 265 people on a waiting list to obtain moorage in Steveston. Depending on the size of their boat, when applicants call to apply, they are told that the average wait time is five to ten years for a moorage spot. The boater currently at the top of the waiting list thought moorage was imminent and put his name down in 2003. That’s a 12-year wait! With this type of demand, a marina would be a huge overnight success.

After carefully considering the above, the Steveston Merchants Association (SMA) has put forward a very reasonable, well balanced, and thought-out proposal for the site. Their vision includes the east portion, approximately one third of the site, being rezoned to allow for office space, the middle third would remain MMU and provide services to the proposed marina located directly in front of its doors and the west third would be zoned to allow for retail use. This proposal would be a huge win for the developer as MMU space would lease for $18-$20 per square foot, office space for $20-$25 per square foot, and retail rates could be as high as $40 per square foot (approximations based on current market base rents of triple net leases in the area).

This proposal would preserve the traditional village shopping experience by keeping retail uses and shoppers at the west end of the site, close to the heart of the business district, and not drawing shoppers east into a more residential neighbourhood away from the historic village centre.

Parking your car in Steveston can be extremely frustrating, with spots at a premium during the busy summer season and year-round on weekends. Lots and lanes throughout the village are already at capacity, with visitor parking reaching neighbourhood residential streets. The office and MMU uses would likely not operate into the evenings and weekends, thus leaving pay parking options open. This alone would go a long way to helping our parking problems. In addition, employees of the office and MMU spaces would frequent the village shops and restaurants, adding to the economic viability and vibrancy of the existing village businesses.

030I feel if 60,000 square feet of retail space were dumped, seemingly overnight, on the market in Steveston, it would set back the redevelopment of the existing village core by a decade and move the main shopping experience from the traditional core, to which Steveston owes much of its charm, and over to the eastern waterfront. Would this be fair to all the restaurant and shop owners who have made investment decisions through lease or ownership arrangements, including significant investments of time and capital to improvements of these spaces, based on a set of well-established Official Community Plan rules and guidelines?

Just over a year ago, the developer was referred back to city staff for further consult-ation at a planning committee meeting. There have been talks about moving the Steve-ston Library from the community centre to a portion of the Bayview site, which I think is a fantastic idea, but my understanding is that they have been unable to come to an agreement. There currently is no scheduled return visit to the planning committee for this rezoning application and the site remains in limbo. This current state benefits no one. A balanced approach, like the Steveston Merchants Association proposal, will give local residents some of the retail options they covet while enhancing the historic village shopping experience that has made Steveston such a wonderful place to live, work, and visit.

Doors Open Richmond 2015

Saturday, May 30th, 2015

Unlock Steveston’s Best with Doors Open Richmond 2015
Story by Gabrielle Sharp

Steveston Museum, Post Office and Visitor CentreUnlock some of the best kept secrets of Steveston’s heritage, art and culture with Doors Open Richmond 2015 presented by the Richmond Museum Society and the City of Richmond on Saturday, June 6 and Sunday, June 7 between 10:00 am and 4:00 p.m. Ten of the 44 sites taking part in Doors Open this year are located in Steveston.

Steveston Village with its evocative character buildings and fascinating museums brings the past alive.
Heritage is well represented in the Steveston area with six sites alone offering everything from major exhibit openings through to special behind-the-scenes museum tours.

Visit the Steveston Museum and Visitor Centre and be among the first to explore the Japanese Fishermen’s Benevolent Society Building during its opening weekend. This is the building located behind the Steveston Museum that was moved to the site in 2010. It will offer exhibits telling the stories of the Japanese Canadians of Steveston.

At the Steveston Interurban Tram Building, you can meet Ron Hyde, a rail historian who wrote The Sockeye Special: The story of the Steveston Tram and early Lulu Island. There will also be free children’s crafts and a special scavenger hunt.

The eastern end of Steveston is well represented too. At Britannia Shipyards National Historic Site enjoy free 15-minute tours on the hour of the buildings and docks that gives Britannia its unique heritage character. On Sunday, June 7 at 1:00 p.m., 2:00 p.m. and 3:00 p.m., visit Oceana the mermaid as she tells people about her ocean home and how to care for it.

Further east along the Fraser River on Dyke Road at picturesque London Heritage Farm, tour 1890s period themed rooms depicting pioneer life in Richmond. Stroll through the park and see gardens, the hand tool museum and, of course, everyone’s favourite London Farm chickens. Then between noon and 5:00 p.m. drop in for a delicious tea in the Tea Room.

Toward the west end of the village, the Gulf of Georgia National Historic Site will be hosting a special “Under the Rafters: A Behind-the-Scenes Tour” of the Cannery. Join this exclusive tour of the usually hidden spaces storing artefacts and more that make up the Gulf of Georgia. Pre-register for these tours by calling 604-664-9009 or emailing While these tours are free, normal admission prices apply for general public access to the Cannery building.

Experience a rare opportunity to visit a working farm at the Steves Family Farmhouse on Steveston Highway that has been in the Steves family since 1877. You will be able to tour parts of the house and view a large collection of artwork and historical objects. Antique farm equipment and heirloom seed gardens will be on display outside.

For culture enthusiasts, the Steveston Japanese Canadian Cultural Centre next to the Steveston Community Centre will be offering displays, demonstrations, presentations and interactive activities about Steveston’s Japanese Community.

More Japanese culture is on display at the Steveston Buddhist Temple on Garry Street where you can discover the rich history of the oldest standing Buddhist Temple in the Lower Mainland. The Temple has been a part of the Steveston community for over 80 years and will offer site tours. There will also be a number of workshops throughout the weekend including Introduction to Buddhism at 1:00 pm on both days.

For art lovers, painter and teacher Adrienne Moore is opening her private home studio on Chatham Street where you can view her works that range from local landscapes to abstract expressionism.

Finally, there is the Steveston Fire Station at No. 2 Road and Steveston Highway. Always popular with kids of all ages, throughout the Doors Open weekend there will be tours of the station and their 27-foot fire education trailer. Who doesn’t love seeing a fire truck up close?

Most of these sites are within easy walking distance of Steveston Village. For people who like to stretch their legs, Walk Richmond is offering a walking tour on Saturday, June 6 at 10:00 a.m. Walk Richmond leaders will start the leisurely group walk at Britannia Shipyards before taking participants along the Fraser River to London Heritage Farm. If you’re interested, meet under the big alder tree near the Murakami Garden in the centre of the Britannia Shipyards site just before starting time. No registration is required.

For those who would prefer to explore the Steveston waterfront by boat, on Sunday, June 7, climb aboard the River Queen operated by Vancouver Whale Watch for a fully narrated nature and history tour of Steveston’s waterfront. The River Queen will be docking at three stops throughout the day: Fisherman’s Wharf on the Second Avenue Float near Vancouver Whale Watch, Third Avenue Pier near the Gulf of Georgia Cannery and at the Britannia Shipyards Dock. You can hop on and hop off to explore each site. One way tickets are $6 for adults, $5 for students and seniors and $4 for children aged 4-12. Children younger than four are free.

Join in the celebrations with the Doors Open Richmond 2015 Kickoff. On Friday June 5, First Avenue will be closed down between Moncton and Chatham Streets for a neighbourhood block party! Starting at 4:30 p.m. there will be free live music and children’s crafts plus local merchants will be offering food, drinks and merchandise for sale. At 6:30 p.m. the new Japanese Building on the Steveston Museum site will be officially opened and festivities will continue until 8:30 p.m.

These are just 10 of the 44 sites offered throughout Richmond on June 6 and 7. To find out more about Doors Open Richmond 2015 and how you can unlock the best of Richmond’s heritage, art and culture, pick up a map brochure at a City of Richmond facility or visit the website:

Justin Thorsteinson

Saturday, May 30th, 2015

Justin-Apr2015-Steveston-InInterview with a Steveston Kid:

Justin Thorsteinson just celebrated his 13th birthday. We interviewed him about his favourite sport, baseball. He currently plays on the Richmond Chuckers in 13U Peewee AAA division at first base and pitcher with jersey #33. Justin started playing T-Ball at 6 years old.

What you love about baseball:
I love everything about the game – the hitting, pitching, fielding, the road trips and the atmosphere of playing in the nice weather of spring and summer. I also love it because I get to spend a lot of time with my teammates who have become some of my best friends.

Greatest accomplishment to date:
Last summer in the 13U Peewee AAA Provincial Championships when I pitched in the semi-finals against Abbotsford where the game went extra innings in a hard fought battle.

Highlight from last year:
Being part of a very successful Peewee All Star team than went 12-1 during league play and made it into the Provincial championship tournament. Also the road trip to Gig Harbour in Washington where we made it to the finals against the West Hill Vipers – one of the top ranked teams in the state.

Who inspired you to play baseball:
My dad who was my first coach in T-Ball and still coaches me to this day. He played baseball in Richmond for many years and was also part of a Provincial championship team in 1987 that went on to the Nationals in Quebec.

justin heroFavourite player:
Justin Morneau who is the first baseman of the Colorado Rockies. I wear #33 because it’s his number as well. He grew up in New Westminster and made it to the major leagues. I had the opportunity to meet him 3 years ago at Safeco Field in Seattle before a Mariners game and he was very nice to me. He told me to work hard, have fun and enjoy each day I step on the field to play the game. I had an opportunity to meet him again this spring break when my family and I were in Arizona for the MLB spring training. My dad arranged an afternoon with him where he gave us a tour of the field and I was bat boy for one of the games.

What baseball has taught you:
Baseball has taught me how to be a good teammate and support each other whether you win or lose. It has also taught me patience and how to be a leader. In baseball and other sports, you have to work hard and practice a lot to improve every day.

Goals for this season:
The main goal for our team is to get back to the Peewee AAA Provincial Championship in August. A few other goals are to pitch a “no hitter” during a regular season game, hit a few home runs and to give our team the best chance of winning every time we step on the field. I also want to tryout and make the 13U BC select team this summer.

Goals for the future:
In a few years I would like to represent my country and make the Canadian National Team and in 5 years I’m hoping I will be good enough to be drafted by a major league team.