Monday, October 30, 2017

Mall proposal

Regarding the Century Group proposal presentation for changes to the mall. 

There should be a serious concern in our planning department and council about building density when we have limited access and egress into town.

It was suggested that the proposed first phase adds 75 automobile trips hourly to traffic. This figure was come to by the same process that suggested that the Southlands would add little to the traffic load of 56th Street. 

Both developments are along 56th Street. To suggest that 52nd street should be considered a means of egress for these developments is unrealistic. 56th street will bear the brunt of traffic for these developments.

At market rates it is unlikely that people can afford to live in this development working for minimum wage in one of the shops. They will need to work elsewhere putting more cars on the road.

Southlands when completed will add 950 housing units adding an additional 1900 automobiles to the community. These houses will require at least one working person to support the mortgage. This will mean an additional 950 automobile trips added to “rush hour” traffic.

It was suggested that this won’t be the case due to demographics. “Older people will sell their homes and downsize to the Southlands”. Following this logic they will sell their larger homes to a younger couple with at least 2 children of driving age. This will mean more (than 950) cars added to rush hour as both adults will likely be working and children will be driving to college.

Or, following the same logic. When the retired people pass on and sell their small homes to young families, what will that add to the traffic?

And this is all just phase one; there is more to come: All under the guise of enhancing local business. It is hard to believe this project will enhance local business. The storefronts are directly off the street with little direct parking. With the additional traffic it is hard to believe anyone will get out of their cars to buy a loaf of bread let alone stop for none-essentials.

If the idea is really to “re-energize the retail environment” or create a “green heart” to town the proposal is sadly lacking. The six story building is reminiscent of failed US housing developments. The plan does nothing to change the National Geographic “strip-mall hell” image of Tsawwassen. Adding more density and little in the way of an actual “active downtown core” only diminishes quality of life.

Lastly, to hold a presentation like this in a public building with paid municipal staff is suggestive of council support. Staff actually suggested this is paid for through permitting costs. Permits do not cover their costs at any level of development. At this stage it should be a corporate presentation. It should be at arm’s length with no municipal involvement other than to collate feedback.  

If our planning department is truly a "planning department" all these considerations would be on the table and openly discussed. It is, for instance, hard to believe that any traffic study would show negative trending towards automotive use. Our history would indicate a move to alternative vehicles not fewer vehicles. Certainly for a municipality that wants a 10 lane bridge to this community it is illogical to think fewer vehicles are in our future. That fact should be what our planning department should be looking at alongside all proposals.

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