Archive for the ‘Community’ Category

Steveston: Small Business Community Thinks Big

Sunday, May 22nd, 2016

Steveston Village SceneYou may have heard people talking about the SMA and BIA, but what are they and what is the difference between them?

The Steveston Merchants Association (SMA) was formed in 2010 by a group of business owners whose goal was to promote local businesses and drive more customers to their services, shops and restaurants through seasonal events, small scale advertising, a website and social media. With an elective paid membership the SMA does not encompass the entire business district, resulting in a smaller funding pool although events and promotions benefit the entire village.

An elected volunteer board is responsible for organizing popular events such as Christmas in Steveston Village, Girls’ Night Out, the Scarecrow Crawl and Trick or Treat in Steveston Village and has been a voice for many important area concerns.

While the work the SMA accomplishes is outstanding, the merchants’ association model is antiquated.

BIA stands for Business Improvement Areas and what this model offers is far reaching for both merchants and the entire community. Examples of what can be achieved for Steveston include a year round focus for promotional programs and activities, collective advertising and special events designed to drive more visitors to the area. Issues such as pedestrian scale lighting and parking improvements are also a focus of many BIAs.

Steveston’s business community is losing ground as business districts in virtually every surrounding region of Metro Vancouver and throughout B.C. have embraced BIAs. In comparison, Steveston is at a disadvantage without a BIA.

Business districts can dream big with input from a full membership’s participation at the board and committee level.

A simple way to explain a BIA is to imagine a shopping mall management system. All malls have systems in place to drive customers to the mall to benefit business tenants. Steveston without a BIA is like an outdoor mall with no big picture promotional direction. It just isn’t competitive nor does it come close to realized improved potential.

BIAs are able to plan further into the future to successfully promote areas. A BIA is approved by a vote and all businesses within a BIA’s boundaries automatically become members, creating a larger collective voice working for the betterment of businesses and the community.

A BIA is uniquely created for an area, no two are identical, and therefore Steveston could capitalize on its distinct locale where farmland meets the ocean and a historic fishing village.

Jim_vandertas_BlueCanoe_Steveston Village Palla MediaJim van der Tas, owner of the Blue Canoe Waterfront Restaurant (and president of the SMA) believes the sky’s the limit. He envisions everything from an Oktoberfest celebration spread over a number of days to celebrating a new Steveston heritage festival and transforming the entire village into a Christmas wonderland for the month of December to draw people to town.

Getting a BIA off the ground takes a lot of work and commitment from volunteers who believe that focusing on a bigger picture can produce some very effective results.

A new committee called the Steveston Business Development Association (SBDA) has formed under the SMA’s umbrella to partner cooperatively with other local non-profits that see the value a BIA brings to an entire community.

A municipality can’t force a BIA into a business community and generally shouldn’t stop a BIA start up group from asking them to initiate the voting procedure if the group has done positive outreach. After well over a decade of discussion Steveston merchants, land owners and key stakeholders have not gone before City council to ask for the BIA voting procedure but expect to this calendar year.

Peter Tong Pharmasave Steveston Village Palla MediaPeter Tong, owner of Steveston Pharmasave, comments,“ I think a BIA is very important for Steveston.”

“Looking at this unique location and the sensitivity businesses have in trying to protect the history, integrity and feel of the community; there are a lot of political and business challenges that are hard for each business to face alone,” Tong says.

He adds, “Promoting the village, rather than one single business, attracts more people and creates an atmosphere within the village that can only benefit Steveston. I think there are certainly frustrations amongst some business owners who have seen what other BIAs have done and strongly believe one is needed to start promoting the village. The sooner we get this done the better.

Carol_LittleMexico_Steveston Village Palla MediaCarol Janeczko, owner of Little Mexico Cantina, believes, “The opportunity to revitalize Steveston through the formation of a BIA is an exciting prospect. Looking at other similar business districts such as Fort Langley and Cloverdale and seeing what they have accomplished for their communities through elaborate events, marketing and beautification projects is inspiring. It would be amazing to see Steveston advance to that level.”

Jens Hertha DOriginal_Sausage_Steveston Village Palla MediaJens Hertha, owner of D’Original Sausage Haus, agrees. “I am excited about the possibility of having a BIA in Steveston. It would make Steveston stronger. For a business like mine the cost would be less than $200 per year. I strongly believe that a BIA is an investment and everybody benefits from a strong, vibrant business district.”Hertha believes, “This BIA initiative is a significant opportunity and every business and commercial property should plan to learn about it firsthand. This is too important an opportunity to be making a decision about a BIA based on nonfactual information or hearsay from third parties. Make an appointment with the organizers to talk about it.”

To learn more email:

Doors Open Richmond 2016

Friday, May 6th, 2016

The Best of Steveston’s Heritage, Art and Culture

By Charles Takaesu and Gabrielle Sharp

Steveston_Visitor_Ctr_Palla_MediaDiscover Steveston’s heritage, arts and culture during the free Doors Open Richmond 2016 city-wide event, on Saturday, June 4 and Sunday, June 5 between 10:00 am and 4:00 pm. Twelve Doors Open sites are based in Steveston and showcase the area’s past and present.

Steveston Village is a great starting point for your weekend activities, with many sites clustered within walking distance of local restaurants and shops. Experience delicious dining, unique shopping and fabulous culture all in a single weekend!

Steveston_Gulf_of_Georgia_Cannery_Palla_MediaAt the west end of Steveston Village, the Gulf of Georgia Cannery (12138 Fourth Avenue) is offering “Under the Rafters” tours, a rare behind-the-scenes experience exploring areas of the cannery typically closed to the public. This tour is not wheelchair accessible. Please pre-register by calling 604-664-9009, as space is limited. There are two tours each day, at 10:00 am and 2:00 pm. Although the “Under the Rafters” tour is free, normal admission rates apply for guests who wish to visit the regular exhibits.

Watch a silversmithing class in action at Juvelisto Design and School of Metal Arts (120-3500 Moncton Street) and chat with owner Sasha Shkolnik. Juvelisto Design specializes in beautiful one-of-a-kind jewellery made by Sasha and other gifted artists.

Tour the Steveston Museum and Visitor Centre (3811 Moncton Street) in the heart of Steveston Village. Experience the diversity of Steveston’s history through the newly landscaped, Japanese-inspired Town Square Park and the Japanese Fishermen’s Benevolent Society Building that was opened a year ago. The first 200 people on each day will receive a mini-plant pot and children can enjoy trying the Japanese art of origami.

Steveston_Tram_Palla_MediaAlthough access to the tramcar may be limited due to restoration, stop by the Steveston Interurban Tram Building (4011 Moncton Street) for an Open House including children’s crafts.

Painter and teacher Adrienne Moore is opening her Home Studio (3171 Chatham Street) to the public during Doors Open. Adrienne employs a wide variety of styles and subjects, from local landscapes to mixed media and abstract expressionism. Visit Adrienne’s studio, filled to the brim with her vibrant work, and meet the artist to learn about her painting techniques.

Steveston_JapaneseBldg_Palla_MediaThe Steveston Japanese Canadian Cultural Centre (4255 Moncton Street) is bustling with activity during the event weekend. Visitors can choose from displays, demonstrations, presentations and interactive activities on the culture, history and traditions of Steveston’s Japanese Canadian community.

A short walk northeast of the Japanese Canadian Cultural Centre, the Steveston Buddhist Temple (4360 Garry Street) is the oldest standing Buddhist Temple in the lower mainland. Tours are available throughout Doors Open, and Introduction to Buddhism sessions are offered each day at 1:00 pm. On Saturday, enjoy a Japanese cooking demonstration and Seiza Meditation. Sunday features the morning service (opened to the public) and a cultural presentation in the late afternoon.

Steveston_Fire_Station_Palla_MediaAt the “gateway to Steveston”, visit the Steveston Fire Station (11011 No.2 Road) to meet fire fighters and Blaze the Dalmatian mascot. Tour the state-of-the-art fire hall and learn how to keep your family safe from house fires in the educational fire trailer.

Steveston_Branscombe_House_Palla_MediaRhonda Weppler, inaugural Artist-in-Residence at Branscombe House (4900 Steveston Highway) invites visitors of all ages to participate in the International Picnic Project, a still-life mural featuring Richmond’s international foods. Guests can contribute a drawing, painting, or collage of their favourite (locally available) international food in exchange for a candy gift inspired by Rhonda’s favourite ethnic food. Rhonda is also exhibiting a series of tiny marzipan food sculptures, created by local art students, representing Richmond’s culinary diversity.

Steveston_London_Heritage_Farm_Palla_MediaA must-visit for afternoon tea lovers, London Heritage Farm (6511 Dyke Road) features period themed rooms in a restored farmhouse, herb and perennial gardens and a Hand Tool Museum. Stop in for London Lady Tea and tasty treats in the Tea Room between 12:00 pm and 5:00 pm.

Steveston_Britannia_Shipyard_Palla_MediaBritannia Shipyards (5180 Westwater Drive) is hosting a veritable bounty of activities during Doors Open. The Dragon Zone Paddling Club offers a unique opportunity to get out on the water and try the exciting sport of dragon boating. There are four 30 minute sessions each day, at 12:00 pm, 1:00 pm, 2:00 pm, and 3:00 pm, with a limit of one session per person. Pre-register by calling 604-718-8050 to reserve your spot. Visit a series of new exhibits at the Seine Net Loft and learn Morse code with radio historian Tom Brent at the Murakami Boatworks. Saturday activities at the Richmond Boat Builders include a Shipwright talk and Drop-In Boat Building, while Sunday offers Children’s Boat Building and Decorative Knot Tying.

Steveston_Steves_Farmhouse_Palla_MediaRevisit Steveston’s roots with a trip to the Steves Family Farmhouse (2871 Steveston Highway). Steveston is named after Martha and Manoah Steves, whose family founded the farm in 1877. The farm is still active today under the direction of their great grandson, Councillor Harold Steves. Tour parts of the farmhouse and peruse a large collection of artwork and historical objects. Heirloom seed gardens and antique farm equipment are also on display throughout Doors Open weekend.

Steveston_River_Queen_Boat_Palla_MediaFinally, hop aboard the River Queen Water Shuttle for a fully narrated nature and history tour of Steveston’s waterfront. This year, the River Queen will travel between Fisherman’s Wharf on the 2nd Avenue float, and the Britannia Shipyards dock. One way tickets between destinations are $6 for adults, $5 for seniors and students, $4 for children aged 4 to 12, while children under 4 ride free.

Join us for our Doors Open Richmond 2016 Opening Kickoff at Minoru Chapel and Pierrefonds Gardens (6540 Gilbert Road) on Friday June 3rd, from 5:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. This year’s kickoff event features free live music, crafts, light refreshments and vibrant displays.

Remember, these are only 12 of the 42 sites offered throughout Richmond on June 4 and 5. To find out more about Doors Open Richmond 2016, pick up a map brochure now available at City of Richmond facilities or visit

Jacqui Turner

Sunday, April 10th, 2016

Leaving Her Mark on Our Community

Jacqui Turner Steveston Insider bikeJacqui Turner is not one to sit back and wait for something to happen; when she sees something that needs tending to she dives right in. In fact, this vivacious Stevestonite has spent her entire life volunteering and has left some impressive legacies along the way.

Turner was born in the town of Sale, south of Manchester, England, during the Second World War. Following the war, at age 10, she became an active volunteer when she realized some women in her community were too nervous to leave their homes and required assistance with their shopping. As a teenager her volunteer work escalated when she and a friend founded a soccer team called the Lincoln Lads to help keep local boys out of trouble. With a smile she mentions the team still exists today.

Turner says, “I’ve always been a volunteer.”

While her full name is Jacqueline, she has gone by Jacqui since she was 13 years old when she decided she wanted to be different. Turner calls herself a bit of a trendsetter. Her past careers include working as an interior decorator and as a fashion buyer. Both of these jobs required her to be an imaginative forward thinker. These skills transferred nicely to her volunteer work, which has often involved startup projects requiring a visionary leader to get them off the ground.

When Turner, her husband Tony and their two young children arrived in Richmond in 1978 she saw a need for lunch hour parent supervisors at her children’s elementary school. She organized a group of mothers to volunteer and fill this void, which was the a new concept in Richmond. She reports several years later people were hired to fill this role.

Moving on to other projects, she supported the movement for Richmond to have its own theatre facility, and joined the fundraising committee to build Gateway Theatre. She was proud to see the dream realized when the curtain raised in 1984.

The saying goes if you want something done, ask a busy person. Turner always rises to the challenge.

The Turners have operated their home-based businesses (A. Turner Sales and A. J. S. Turner Property Inc.) for many years. In the 1990s they were aware numerous Steveston village businesses and some homes were being broken into.

Turner says, “There was a ‘Fagin’ who was sending boys out to do break-ins.” People were complaining and Turner took action. She contacted a police constable and circulated a petition that she presented to city council. She wasn’t sure what the outcome would be but she knew she wanted a community police station opened, which would be the first of its kind in Richmond. Turner says, “I was doing it for the people.” Within a short time Steveston had its own community police station.

Jacqui Turner Steveston InsiderNot only is Turner a superstar volunteer, she has shared her time simultaneously with a number of Steveston’s not-for-profit groups over the years.

The Steveston Museum Society benefited from 20 years of her volunteer service. She also contributed 30 years of volunteer time to the Steveston Community Society and is most proud of the opening of the indoor tennis courts and the children’s water park.

Turner volunteered with Gulf of Georgia Cannery Society for 25 years and also was involved with the London Heritage Farm Society for five years as the chair and two additional years as the treasurer. She was exceptionally proud of the volunteers who worked in the tearoom and all of the people power that went into running the Christmas craft sale and the annual family farm day.

What is her most fulfilling volunteer accomplishment? Without hesitation Turner says it was the work she and a group of approximately 25 advisory members (who called themselves the Community Building Consensus) accomplished making the Bayview Street waterfront boardwalk become reality.

Prior to construction of the boardwalk she reports it was common to see rats, feral cats and seedy elements in the area. She mentions that the artifacts and design concept were in place prior to the Onni Group purchasing the site. She is proud of the boardwalk beautification thanks to the community’s efforts and is grateful Onni built it as directed.

Although it seems like there are not enough hours in the day for the sheer volume of volunteer work she has accomplished, Turner mentions she has always treated her volunteerism like a nine to five job. She had dinner on the table every night. She laughs when she admits if she was the chair of a board she made it work around her schedule. She was careful to not let her philanthropic work interrupt her business or home life.

In addition to giving back to Steveston, Turner supports a variety of charities including Vancouver’s Turning Point Recovery Society, Union Gospel Mission and Covenant House. She says, “The young are our future. I like to see people who have gone down come back up.”

When asked what she most loves about our community she mentions the scenic beauty, her favourite restaurant haunt (Blue Canoe) and walking down the street and running into people she knows.

If she could choose only one thing that defines what makes Steveston special the answer comes easily, “It’s the people that make Steveston.” Undoubtedly it’s special people like Turner who have contributed to the best of what Steveston has to offer.

New Mural Installed in Fisherman’s Park Steveston

Wednesday, December 2nd, 2015

Steveston artOver the past year a group of non-profit organizations in Steveston have come together to produce a fishing mural on the building in Fisherman’s Park. The inspiration for the project came from the Gulf of Georgia Cannery Society and the Steveston Historical Society as an effort to beautify the western end of Steveston and highlight the village’s fishing history.

Rebecca Clarke, Executive Director for the Gulf of Georgia Cannery Society says, “We are excited to have a significant piece of public art installed at the west end of the village. With new commercial buildings at the corner of Bayview and 3rd Ave, I think we’ll see a significant increase in pedestrian traffic and it’s good to show we are more than an industrial area.”

Working with the Steveston Harbour Authority who owns the building and park, these two heritage groups formed a committee with representatives from each of the three non-profits as well as the Richmond Arts Coalition. The committee created a plan for depicting Steveston’s fishing past on three sides of the building.

With support from the City of Richmond, the Steveston Harbour Authority, the Gulf of Georgia Cannery Society and Benjamin Moore paints, the group hired experienced mural artist Victoria Oginski to begin the work for the south facing wall of the building. Basing her work on images from the Gulf of Georgia Cannery’s collection and photographer Joel Baziuk, Victoria has beautifully captured the essence of today’s fishing industry in Steveston.

According to Sarah Glen, Director on the Steveston Historical Society board, “The Historical Society is excited to share Steveston’s history with the public in a new way. We plan to include the mural in future walking tours of the village to help visitors understand the importance of fishing in our history.”

The group is currently seeking funding to add mural panels on the remaining two sides of the building. These panels will complete the history of fishing in Steveston, from First Nations village to thriving fishing harbour.

Public are invited to the official unveiling of the mural on Sunday, December 6 at noon in Fisherman’s Park at the west end of Moncton Street in Steveston.
For more information:

Rebecca Clarke, Executive Director Gulf of Georgia Cannery Society
12138 Fourth Ave
Richmond, BC V7E 3J1
t: 604.664.9192

The Cannery Store

Wednesday, November 25th, 2015

Cannery_Store_Steveston_Insider_5449aGulf of Georgia Cannery Store: ‘Tis the Season to Shop Locally

When you set off to shop locally this holiday season add the Gulf of Georgia (GOG) Cannery National Historic Site’s gift store to your must visit list.

Rob Hart, GOG Cannery Society Operations Manager is responsible for purchasing the products you will find in the shop. His goal? To find merchandise that enhances the museum visitor’s experience and appeals to local shoppers. As a result, you will find a very unique collection of gifts and souvenirs.

Established in 1986, the GOG Cannery Society is an independent non-profit society and registered charity responsible for the operation of the Gulf of Georgia Cannery National Historic Site of Canada on behalf of Parks Canada. The museum opened to the public in 1994.

Revenue generated through gift shop sales goes towards museum operations; therefore you can feel good knowing your purchase is making an impact.

Popular among tourists and locals alike is a wide selection of salmon products. The vacuum packed smoked salmon is one of the shop’s top sellers as it is so convenient for travel.

Cannery_Store_Steveston_Insider_5460Hart points out five species of gourmet-canned salmon (Chum, Coho, Pink, Sockeye and Spring) are available from supplier The Fishery Seafoods, based on Saltspring Island.

If you are looking to support a Steveston business try Soo Salmon Jerky made at nearby London Landing. In addition, a nice historical connection is the sale of Murchie’s 1894 Select Orange Pekoe Tea (the same year the Cannery began operating).

For the book lovers on your list, you will find a good selection of books addressing local history, fishing, boating, First Nations art and culture and environmental issues.

Fish and marine themed décor and related products are bountiful. Think glass candlesticks masquerading as fish, bottle openers, Rain Goose tea towels (designed in North Vancouver), Christmas ornaments, and even stuffed animals (yes, fish!) along with other West Coast toys you might not normally come across such as bears and walruses.

First Nations jewellery is well represented in the form of pendants, earrings, necklaces and rings. Fun for puddle jumping, Native Sole rain boots feature dynamic motifs. Prints, scarves, t-shirts, greeting cards, bowls and salad servers can all be found here.

The museum’s archive has a good collection of historical canning labels that have been printed onto mugs. Hart mentions that one of these coveted mugs was bought by an Australian couple and became a household favourite until it broke. Determined to put a smile back on their faces, Hart sent a replacement down under!

“There is something for every age range at the Cannery Store.” Rob Hart

Children love to explore shops and they will be happy to discover their own special section filled with toys, games, stuffed animals and what stands out in my memory as a highlight of school field trips, souvenirs priced to match a child’s budget.

How would you feel about finding some Salmon Slobber in your Christmas stocking? Made in Alberta by Goat Mountain Soap Company, this and other equally humorous wilderness themed soaps are bound to produce a few laughs. The label promises there really is nothing fishy about this cleansing product (coconut oil and goat’s milk top the list of ingredients).

There is plenty going on inside the historic site during the festive season. Steveston merchants and community groups will show off their tree decorating talents at the Cannery’s Festival of Trees (on display November 29 to December 31). Visitors can vote by donation to benefit the Richmond Food Bank in this friendly competition!

Santa Cannery Steveston InsiderWhat would Christmas in Steveston Village be without a visit from Santa? After Santa arrives at Fisherman’s Wharf (Sunday December 6) he will make his way over to the Cannery’s theatre for photographs. Bring your own camera, the jolly old elf will pose and listen to your Christmas wishes between 2:00 to 4:00 p.m.

For further shopping needs, are you aware the Gulf of Georgia Cannery hosts an indoor winter market? Now in its second year, the Cannery Farmers’ Market provides an opportunity for local food producers and artisans to showcase their products. The market is held every second Sunday (consult the GOG website for the schedule).

Make a trip to the Cannery Store this holiday season. During the month of December customers who spend $25 or more will receive a can of Gold Seal salmon while supplies last. You are welcome to shop during regular hours of operation (daily from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.) and no admission is required to step inside the store.

Gulf of Georgia Cannery, Steveston BCThe Cannery Store
Gulf of Georgia Cannery
12138 Fourth Avenue
Richmond, BC V7E 3J1
Telephone 604-664-9009

Imagine A Marina

Wednesday, November 25th, 2015

Steveston_Insider_Imperial_Landing_WharfI’d like to discuss the opportunities a full service pleasure craft marina, located in front of Imperial Landing with both long and short term moorage capacity, will afford Steveston Village. I ask you to imagine this full service marina because the Onni development will require the City (again) to decide what to allow or what to do with their empty space in the months to come.

Imagine boaters taking advantage of the moorage. They will support the mixed maritime use shops located at the marina’s doorstep (uses such as marine hardware, electronics, sail and canvas repair, boat charter and rental offices, seafood market, sea cadets, yacht club, etc.) as well as local stores and restaurants as they seek maintenance, upgrades, provisions, and amusement.

Steveston_Insider_PaddleboardsVisualize marina space allowing for small power boat rentals, like those offered at Granville Island and Horseshoe Bay, tempting tourists and locals alike to venture out onto the water to fish, enjoy watersports, explore the river all the way up to Pitt Lake with opportunities to view sea lions, seals, eagles, heron, swans and other wildlife along the shore, journey to the Gulf Islands and so much more. In addition, power boat rentals, dinner cruises, expanded paddle and rowing activities can all be expected. Picture dragon boats, paddle boarders, kayakers, and canoers accessing rentals, lessons, and various clubs putting on competitions and festivals. These activities could be supported and encouraged by the City, Steveston Harbour Authority and the Steveston Merchants Association.

Envision water taxis offering unique sightseeing access, plying the waters and connecting Garry Point Park, the Gulf of Georgia Cannery National Historic Site, Fisherman’s Wharf, Britannia Shipyards National Historic Site, and even accessing London Landing and London Heritage Farm from the No. 2 Road Pier.

steveston_insider_boatsImagine viewing the work of local artisans and experiencing a Granville Island-style public market at the freshly rehabilitated Net Loft building built out on piles extending out on the waterfront at Britannia. Or exploring and discovering an expansive First Nations museum and a maritime museum located along the picturesque waterfront. These concepts are not a pipe dream; they are all viable ideas and are business opportunities currently being discussed.

The development of a marina will create additional demand for and make viable the maritime mixed-uses that are intended for Imperial Landing, while at the same time provide jobs and experiences currently not available in Steveston, and further enhance the experience for tourists and locals alike.

There is a 10 year wait list for a spot to moor in Steveston right now. The demand for moorage space is undeniable, and any space created would literally be filled overnight. Further, the Steveston Village shopping experience doesn’t need to grow to the east with 65,000 square feet of additional retail space. The traditional village core, including some of the exciting new developments planned in the core, will provide enough space for shopping, dining and business uses.

Steveston_Insider_Onni_RezoningSteveston is a community that cares, gets involved, volunteers, and has an opinion. It is understandably difficult to get a consensus on issues such as parking, building heights, allowable uses, Business Improvement Area formation, and community amenity locations. However, in a recent Steveston Merchants Association survey, 76% of members felt a marina would positively impact their businesses and 57% felt a rezoning of the MMU space at Imperial Landing to retail would negatively impact their businesses. These kinds of majority votes in Steveston are unprecedented. With this level of local passion, I’m confident the dream of a vibrant riverside community with an array of living, working, shopping, eating, and entertainment experiences will be achieved.

It cannot be stressed enough that Steveston is at a crossroads. The retention of the waterfront for the types of uses discussed above is imperative as once lost it will never be regained. Our waterfront can be a vibrant, lively place with locals, tourists and boaters from all over coming to enjoy what we have to offer. We must act now to ensure this opportunity is not lost; make sure your opinion is heard.


Sean_Lawson_RemaxSean Lawson, distinguished Realtor®, B.C.I.T. and U.B.C. trained, has been “Steveston’s Realtor®” since 1989. Raised and educated in Richmond and a resident of Steveston, this experienced builder and award winning Realtor® possesses the academic training, hands-on experience and local market knowledge necessary to satisfy your real estate requirements. Sean Lawson is a graduate of the B.C.I.T. Building Technologies Program and the U.B.C. Urban Land Economics Program, with over twenty years’ experience in real estate sales, re-zoning applications, land assembly and other development projects, making the team “Your Complete Source” for Steveston and Richmond real estate. Sean is an active member of the Steveston Merchants Association, as well as a contributor to family-building initiatives such as school fundraisers, parks, and playgrounds throughout Steveston. As a lifetime Richmond resident, a husband, and father of two daughters Bella and Talia, his roots in the community run deep and increase his commitment to a better Steveston.

Once Upon A time Returns for its Fifth Season

Sunday, September 20th, 2015

The Fairy Tale Continues

Story by Sarah Gordon. Photos by Clayton Perry

Once_Upon_A_Time_Steveston_Storybrooke 4It was 2011 when Emma Swan, sporting a red leather jacket, first rolled into Storybrooke in a yellow Volkswagen Beetle with a mysterious little boy named Henry. While Stevestonites are familiar with filming in the village, nobody could predict the magnitude Once Upon a Time would have on Steveston Village; it has been one of television’s highest rated shows for the last four years.

The fifth season has now begun and the show is increasing in popularity. This past summer large crowds of fans came out to watch filming take place, hopeful for a glimpse of their favourite actors.

Curious to hear how Once Upon a Time has impacted our community; I spoke to some Steveston merchants and Tourism Richmond for their impressions.

Kelly Krull is the manager of Splash Toy Shop and is a big fan of the show. Located in the heart of Storybrooke, Splash becomes Neighbor’s Five & Dime.

She says, “Once Upon a Time has brought magic to Steveston.” On a daily basis she sees out of town visitors who have discovered Steveston purely because of the program.

Once_Upon_A_Time_Steveston_Storybrooke 1“The energy fans bring makes the village shine,” she says. People of all ages make the trip here in hope of catching a filming day, and if not, they are excited to stop and pose for photos in front of the landmark Storybrooke buildings they know so well.

“Once Upon a Time has become a draw to Steveston, attracting visitors that we have never seen before. It’s like Jack and the Beanstalk, the bean has been planted.” Kelly Krull

The cast and crew are extremely supportive of local businesses and will come in to look around and shop on their breaks. She reports Splash recently had a visit en masse from Captain Hook, Prince Charming, Snow White and the Evil Queen. She says Henry is also a regular customer.

Once_Upon_A_Time_Steveston_Storybrooke 2David Gordon’s business Pieces transforms into Purbeck Shoes. He says, “The village is still very much Steveston.” Like other merchants, he makes a point of acting as an ambassador as he directs people to local sights, from Garry Point Park to the fishing docks, museums, and the array of local restaurants, shops and services.

He points out the show has brought a whole new group of tourists to the area. “There are countless stories of out of town visitors, particularly from the United States, who are coming to see where the show is filmed.”

“Fans have reported how enchanted they are with the village, and note that they would never have come here if it were not for the show. They often have an assortment of purchases from different shops in their hands, and inevitably ask where is a good place to have lunch or dinner. It is not unusual to see fans return two or three days in
a row. “ David Gordon

Once_Upon_A_Time_Steveston_Storybrooke 3Fans include Metro Vancouver residents who enjoy watching the show being filmed and then seeing it transform through the magic of Hollywood onto their television screen. Americans, in particular Seattle residents, and a fair number of international fans make the trip out to Steveston purely to experience the magic of walking the streets of Storybrooke.

Gordon says, “One couple from Israel arranged an eight hour layover through the Vancouver airport just so they could come and see Storybrooke.”

The Kollakis family, owners of the Steveston Cannery Cafe, report they have had people come into the restaurant expecting the interior to be identical to “Granny’s Diner” and they have to explain that filming takes place on a set in a studio.

Trevor Kollakis says, “Fans like to come in and have lunch, and say they have eaten at Granny’s. We have definitely seen an increase of customers. We have been surprised with how many people have been visiting from Mexico.”

Once_Upon_A_Time_Steveston_Storybrooke 7Nick Cohen, owner of Romania Country Bread says, “Everyone asks why I keep the sign “Storybrooke Country Bread” up all the time. It is very convenient that they have me representing a bakery in the show, and my business is a bakery. Also it brings good business to me.”

“The television show is an event that brings action to the village, when they are here filming and afterwards with the fans.”

Joe and Sara Cocker’s business, Nikaido, masquerades as Standard Clocks.

Joe Cocker chuckles when he reports, “We have a good laugh when people come into our shop wanting to buy the clocks in the window, or asking us to change their watch battery. We had one customer who was absolutely insistent we sell him a clock in the window, and could not understand why we would have items that were not for sale.”

They have seen a huge increase in customer traffic since the show began, with clients also making unusual requests for items seen in the show like chipped teacups.

Sara Cocker reveals, “Our favourite is when we have been travelling outside of Canada, and explaining to someone where we are from. There have been several occasions when we make the connection of Once Upon a Time being filmed in Steveston, and then great excitement ensues with many questions asked of us.”

Vince Morlet, owner of Tapenade Bistro and vice president of the Steveston Merchants Association says, “I have spoken to a number of cast members who are very complementary of Steveston, and remark on how welcoming the village has been to them.”

He recalls his favourite filming story from season four when a scene was filmed inside his restaurant. No alterations were made to Tapenade’s interior other than changing the tablecloths.

Once_Upon_A_Time_Steveston_Storybrooke 5“After the program aired, we had all kinds of buzz on social media, particularly from the United States. I had many telephone calls asking about us, and in turn many fans coming and dining, taking pictures showing that we were not a film set, but the actual restaurant they saw in the show … minus the name Tony’s Diner. It makes me laugh, some have asked if we would consider changing our name.”

Tourism Richmond has operated the Visitor Centre out of the Steveston Museum and post office building for the last three years. During filming it becomes the Storybrooke Post Office.

Visitor Services Manager Lori Gelz says, “In that time we have witnessed the tourism related to Once Upon a Time increase substantially from small groups in the first season to now hundreds of people who not only come for filming days but plan their entire vacation around visiting “Storybrooke” and Steveston.”

“Because they love the quaint charm of the village, the easy public transit and beautiful scenery, we are now seeing visitors returning for a second or third time in the hopes to see filming and spotting the actors.” Lori Gelz

Early in 2015 Once Upon a Time broadcast a special pre-show segment entitled “Secrets of Storybrooke.” Steveston was in the spotlight as the writers discussed why they chose this location for Storybrooke.

She says, “Within days of this airing, we had people showing up in Steveston who had driven from Oregon when they learned how close we were to them.”

In 2014 just over 20 percent of the groups that came into the Visitor Centre stated Once Upon a Time was the main reason for their visit to the village. In 2015, specifically this past summer, the percentage skyrocketed to just over 50 percent.

Visitors from Washington State and California make up a large portion of Steveston’s American visitors, however, there has been a big increase in people from all of the eastern and southern United States including Alabama, Arkansas, North and South Carolina, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Texas and Tennessee.

“Once Upon a Time is hugely popular in Australia, Brazil, France, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom (to name a few) and is finding a new audience all the time as more people discover the show and start watching it on Netflix.” Lori Gelz

Like other neighbouring businesses, the Visitor Centre staff hears many good stories. A mother and daughter stayed at the Steveston Hotel for more than a week, tried different restaurants in the village each night, shopped in the stores, so much so the merchants got to know them by name. The mother even got a Once Upon a Time themed tattoo.

Gelz is optimistic that Once Upon a Time will leave a bright and long term legacy.

“I see large groups of fans meeting in Steveston, spending many days in the area, and spending their money throughout the village and also planning future trips. Who doesn’t want more customers and more business? This show and the long-term tourism will carry on long after the show ends. We still see fans who are huge movie and TV buffs who have gone to Hope to see where Rambo First Blood was filmed and that was 30 years ago!”

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:

Richmond Nature Park

Sunday, January 18th, 2015

Richmond Nature ParkNew Programs for Babies and Children in  2015

Nature Baby (6 – 18 months)
Explore ways to introduce little ones to the outdoors with a nature walk and nature-themed songs and rhymes. Register online at, by phone 604-276-4300 or in-person at the Richmond Nature Park, 11851 Westminster Highway, 604-718-6188.
Saturdays, May 2 – 30
10:00 – 11:00 am
$28/4 sessions

Nature Detectives (5 – 7 years)
Learn about nature and investigate the outdoor world. Different themes offered each day. Register online at, by phone 604-276-4300 or in-person at the Richmond Nature Park, 11851 Westminster Highway, 604-718-6188.
Monday – Friday, March 16 – 20 and March 23 – 27
9:30 – 12 noon
$87/5 sessions

Sleepover at the Richmond Nature Park (6 – 12 years)
Walk the trails at night with a naturalist and learn about nocturnal creatures, play game, create crafts and listen to animal-themed bedtime stories before tucking in for the night. Fee includes evening snacks and continental breakfast. Register online at, by phone 604-276-4300 or in-person at the Richmond Nature Park, 11851 Westminster Highway, 604-718-6188.
Friday – Saturday, June 19 – 20
7:00 pm – 8:00 am
$48/1 session

Plein Air Painting Workshop (16+ years)
Create a watercolour piece outdoors in the natural environment under the guidance of a plein air (in the open air) artist.
Saturday, May 23 – June 27
11:00 – 2:00 pm
$126/6 sessions

Urban Wildlife Talk (all ages)
Participate in a guided walk and learn about different components of the Nature Park. Walk themes change seasonally. Afterwards, visit the Nature House’s small collection of live animals that are the ambassadors for the wildlife community of the bog. Suitable for all ages. Not offered during events. Richmond Nature Park, 11851 Westminster Highway, 604-718-6188.
Sundays, 2:00 – 3:00 pm


This 200+ acre park is the largest undeveloped natural area in Richmond and is a sanctuary for plants and animals found in this rare bog environment. Trails and board walks provide access to the unusual plants native to this fragile bog environment.

The Nature House features programs, visitor information, trail guides, family friendly activity kits, exhibits and a gift shop. A small collection of live animals showcases the creatures that live in the park. Park amenities include interpretive signs, a wildlife garden, bird feeding station, a picnic shelter, nature playspace and public washrooms.

No pets or bicycles permitted in the park

The park is open daily, dawn to dusk and the Nature House is open daily, 9 – 5 pm. Contact staff at 604-718-6188 or for details about the park, programs or Nature House.



The Richmond Nature Park Society is a non-profit organization aimed at promoting natural history and natural history education in Richmond. The Society works in partnership with the City Of Richmond to provide natural history education opportunities that encourage residents and visitors to Richmond to learn about the environment and natural history of this community.

Angela Soon | Community Facilities Coordinator
Community Services Department
City of Richmond
604-718-6188 (office)