Wednesday, October 8, 2014

My Tsawwassen Walking Tour

A few weeks ago, I had the chance to go on a walking tour of Tsawwassen with a friend who lives there. I must admit that I haven’t spent too much time exploring South Delta; this was a great opportunity to see the area. Tsawwassen has a population of around 20,000.

One of the first things that I experienced was the transit network in South Delta; it isn’t setup to move people between South Delta and the rest of the South of Fraser. While transit service to the Canada Line is fast and frequent, it took me a little over 2.5 hours to get from my place in Downtown Langley to Tsawwassen. I’m sure that TransLink is well aware, but there really is a lack of frequent, direct transit service to connect communities like Tsawwassen, Ladner, White Rock, South Surrey, and Langley together. This likely won’t change until TransLink is given new revenue sources.

One of the first things that I noticed upon entering Tsawwassen was the huge mega-mall that is under construction on Tsawwassen First Nations (TFN) land. You can read more about this on a previous blog post.

The majority of the built-form along 56th Street is auto-oriented in Tsawwassen.

Tsawwassen doesn’t have a town centre. Businesses and higher-density housing is located along 56th Street, the main north/south transportation corridor in the community. While the majority of development along that corridor is auto-oriented, Delta has been working to make the corridor more walkable. In fact, most of the new buildings along 56th Street are mixed-use with ground-level retail that front the street. If done right, 56th Street could become a transit corridor with fast, frequent service.

If Tsawwassen had a town centre, it would be at 56th Street and 12th Avenue. This intersection is flanked by strip malls. One of the things I noticed is that these strip malls have been adapted to be more walkable. Shops now front, and can be accessed via, the street. Also interested to note is that the strip malls have become more pedestrians-friendly with “high street” like corridors that are accessible from the street.

Retrofitting strip malls to be more pedestrians friendly. Pedestrian corridor through strip mall in Tsawwassen.

Speaking about walkability, while many of the sidewalks in Tsawwassen are too small or in a state of poor repair, Delta has adopted a much better sidewalk standard that it is currently being building out. The newer sidewalks are clear of obstructions with enough room for two people in wheelchairs to pass with ease.

New sidewalk standard in Tsawwassen.

There were other parts of Tsawwaseen that we walked to, including Metro Vancouver’s Boundary Bay Regional Park, a jewel in our region’s park system.

If Delta continues to promote the creation of a walkable 56th Street, Tsawwassen could become one of the most walkable and transit-friendly communities in the region.

It will be interesting to see how the new construction on TFN land interacts with Tsawwassen.

No comments: