The Cat is out of the Bag!
Pending Redevelopment Proposals Will Reshape Steveston Village
Story by Sean Lawson. Photos by Sandra Steier.
It’s now official: there is a pending redevelopment process underway for the Rod’s Building Supply site, located at the corner of Moncton Street and Third Avenue. The proposal envisions a mixed-use development with retail on the ground floor and residential above, consistent with the City’s Steveston Area Plan.
The retail includes plans for a “name brand” full service grocery store. The developer, Kyle Shury of Platform Properties, is a “born and raised Richmond lad” and a long-time Steveston resident. After working with Townline Homes for thirteen years, Shury ventured out on his own six years ago and Platform Properties now has projects scattered throughout the Lower Mainland and B.C.
Platform Properties’ vision, along with the planned extensive renovation of the Steveston Hotel (now under new ownership and management) and the new construction on the old G&F Financial site, will kick start the revitalization of the northwest section of Steveston Village’s core.
On the heels of these developments is the Steveston Marine & Hardware site on Moncton Street, which currently has a pending deal in play. These developments will help round out the shopping experience while keeping the Village core intact.
These big moves are not the only plans in the works for our Village; there are currently talks going on at City Hall, spearheaded by Councillor Harold Steves’ stated desire to expedite and make a reality of a much needed pleasure craft marina in Steveston Harbour. The current Mixed Maritime Use (MMU) zoning on Onni’s Bayview site directly in front of this marina will also be in demand when these marina plans are solidified. Steveston Marine & Hardware is already interested in leasing up to 6,000 square feet of the Bayview site, and other maritime related businesses are sure to follow. Yet for the past two years Onni has been embroiled in a proposed zoning change asking for 100 percent retail use for the site which would see these great opportunities dashed.
The Steveston Merchants Association (SMA) had put forward a measured proposal that called for approximately one-third office space, one-third MMU and one-third retail use for the empty Bayview site.
As discussed in my last opinion piece for Steveston Insider, such a zoning mix would allow for the traditional shopping experience of Steveston Village to remain in place (without dragging retail uses eastward away from the Village core and into a residential area), as well as satisfy Onni’s desire to obtain a higher valued use for its land. Despite what I believe to have been both public and City support for the SMA proposal, Onni did not accept these ideas and again pushed forward for 100 percent retail use of the Bayview site.
Two years have passed and the facts have changed; with the aforementioned significant redevelopment of the northwest Village (including a grocery anchor and more retail space underway), the possibility of a pleasure craft marina and the eventual need to relocate Steveston Marine & Hardware, the demand and appropriateness of the Maritime Mixed Use zoning on the Bayview site needs to be acknowledged. The marina and development sites discussed in this article will go through extensive planning and public process prior to any concrete being poured. All residents and business owners will have plenty of opportunity to have input and there will be well-advertised public information meetings coming soon.
I feel the recommendation from the SMA with respect to the amount of MMU space at the Bayview site needs to be revisited. There is now a strong case to be made for retaining even more MMU space than previously recommended.
It should be noted too that there are uses other than retail that should be considered for any change from MMU at the Bayview site. A public library, a cultural museum, a fitness facility (public or private), a senior’s centre or daycare are just a few that would be welcome additions to the community by residents and businesses alike. Further, any “voluntary contributions” or “cash payments” made by Onni to the City with respect to any rezoning of the Bayview site should be earmarked for use in Steveston only. These funds could be used to help provide additional parking, renovate or rebuild our community centre, help fund our fledgling Business Improvement Area association, etc.
It is Steveston residents and businesses that must live with the consequences of this late-in-the-game zoning change Onni is after. I believe it’s a slippery slope to let a developer build out their project, let it sit vacant while demanding the highest valued use, and then grant their wishes after such practices.