I’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.
Visualize 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.
Imagine 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 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, 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 StevestonRealEstate.com 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.