Monday, June 9, 2014

New pub at Cascades Casino doesn't enhance Downtown Langley

In the heart of Downtown Langley, there is a massive parking lot. The Cascades Casino’s parking lots fronts both Glover Road and Fraser Highway. This creates a pedestrian “dead zone” and detracts from the public realm in Downtown Langley. In simpler terms, it doesn’t create a place where people want to be. The one redeeming feature is Innes corner, a public plaza, at the corner of Glover and Fraser Highway. This plaza breaks up the parking lot and enhances the public realm. Unfortunately, a highway-sized sign advertising the casino is the most prominent feature of the plaza.

Many thought that the casino would help revitalize Downtown Langley, but as I posted about last year, this has not happened. The first major challenge is that the casino’s parking lot and not the casino, front the sidewalks in Downtown Langley. The second challenge is that casinos by design are inward focused; the whole idea behind a casino is to keep people inside and gambling. This is reflected in the architecture.

While the casino has not helped directly revitalize Downtown Langley, the casino’s contribution to the City’s revenue has helped pay for many capital projects like new parks and overpasses in the community.

Gateway Casinos, the operator of Cascades Casino in Downtown Langley, has recently applied to build a new pub at the casino with an outside patio.

View of proposed outside patio for new pub at Cascades Casino. Select image to enlarge.

While pubs with street-fronting patios are a great way to both enhance and activate the public realm, due to the siting of the casino, the pub with outside patio that Gateway Casinos is proposing will not enhance the public realm. In fact because the surface parking lot around the casino is so large, you’ll hardly be able to see the patio from Fraser Highway or Glover Road.

View of proposed pub at Cascades Casino from Fraser Highway, across the surface parking lot. Click image to enlarge.

While I have no issue with the casino expanding its food service offering, it is unfortunate that this proposed new pub will not enhance Downtown Langley's public realm.

In order to actually enhance Downtown Langley around the casino, the City of Langley would need to work with the casino to find a way to reclaim the surface parking that fronts Fraser Highway at a minimum, replacing it with shops and services. There are certainly ways to go about this that would both help revitalize Downtown Langley and retain parking for the casino.

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