E-bike hubs? Ghost kitchens? Council looks at New West's potential retail strategy
The draft is set to be endorsed by mayor and council in May
Justin Barer, left, and David Bell present to council during a workshop on Monday, March 6.
Coming up with some kind of major anchor for one part of New West’s downtown, considering specific locations for ghost kitchens, and looking at leveraging at least two specific neighbourhoods as an e-bike hub.
These were just some of the things discussed Monday afternoon during a special council meeting in which David Bell and Justin Barer of Urban Systems—a consulting firm that has helped other communities like Quesnel, Kamloops, and Coquitlam with their urban planning needs—outlined some of the positives and opportunities within the city of New West.
The duo oversaw the completion of a citywide audit of the current conditions related to businesses, while also looking at spaces through a neighbourhood lens: Downtown, Uptown, upper 12th Street, lower 12th Street, Sapperton, and Queensborough.
The city’s manager of economic development, Blair Fryer, said the input for the retail strategy came in from a variety of businesses through the delivery of postcards with links to surveys. Additionally, there were in-person visits to businesses, phone calls, and opportunities for people to have their say through the BeHeardNewWest website.
Some of the results weren’t a surprise: previous reporting by The Anchor outlined one of Barer and Bell’s other presentations to the last council in which they mentioned New West no longer being a regional retail hub. As was the case in Phase 1 of the draft strategy, they both mentioned capitalizing on the city as a hub for arts, culture, and entertainment. Fryer pointed to the potential success through larger-scale amenities like Westminster Pier Park and Hyack Square.
However, there were some specific recommendations presented to council on March 6.
The presentation characterizes the Downtown area as being local-neighbourhood-serving, with an opportunity to further grow into a destination for specialty arts and entertainment. Urban Systems has also suggested the city look at a new anchor for the area after the loss of Army & Navy—though they noted it didn’t have to be a retail anchor—with Bell telling the mayor and council to consider thinking of the Downtown neighbourhood as New West’s “living room space.”
For those of you looking for a bike and/or e-bike share program in the city: the report suggests exploring the Downtown area not only as an option for e-bikes, but also as an e-scooter hub. There’s also been an ask to have an e-bike stop in the 12th Street area.
On the status of the city having a bike and/or e-bike sharing program, we covered that in a piece you can read here.
Urban Systems also noted that the Downtown area would be better served by creating a space that would serve the not-for-profit sector.
One of the slides from the presentation given to council on Monday, March 6.
Bell, during a discussion about Queensborough, used the landing as an example of an area moving away from the so-called “90s power mall,” where large swaths of big box stores and hundreds of parking stalls are found. The Urban Systems report suggests looking at dark stores and commissary kitchens—also known as ghost kitchens—to better support commerce in the area.
Sapperton is characterized as an area that serves the needs of daytime workers and local area residents—but it isn’t benefitting from its disconnection from the Columbia Street commercial corridor. Aside from considering temporary and pop-up event activity in one major location in Sapperton, Urban Systems is hoping the city will look at options like a mid- to full-scale supermarket, a full-format pharmacy, commercial fitness, and/or a daycare.
Another overarching theme was looking at the city as a place that could offer experience plus shopping—though Bell and Barer noted that this was an approach being taken by various markets across North America with the growth of e-commerce competitors like Amazon.
The next steps will be to create another Phase two draft, with more discussions taking place sometime in April. Further consultation will happen after the draft document is presented, and staff anticipate looking for council’s endorsement of the plan sometime in May.