Monday, July 29, 2019

Corner stores and coffee shops south of the Nicomekl. Learning from the past to plan for the future.

One of the things that I was accustom to when growing up in Vernon in the Okanagan was the corner store. I grew up in single-family neighbourhoods, similar to what is south of the Nicomekl River in Langley City.

As a kid in elementary school and as a teenager in high school, my parents would routinely send me on trips to the corner store to pickup milk or other last-minute items. I would walk or take my bike for these short trips. One corner store that we live near was also a Chinese restaurant, so I would also be sent to pickup takeout. Being able to go to these corner stores at a young age gave me a sense of independence, and it also saved my dad getting into the car.

The following pictures show one corner store that I went to when I lived in Vernon, and another corner store which is now a coffee shop.

Coffee shop in a neighbourhood where I grew up in Vernon, BC. Select image to enlarge. Source: Google Maps.

Lakeview Market in Vernon, BC. Select image to enlarge. Source: Google Maps.

This weekend, I was in the Madrona neighbourhood in Seattle. This is a neighbourhood which has predominately single-family housing, but also has small-scale retail and some townhouses.

Single-family house across the street from small-scale retail in Madrona neighbourhood in Seattle. Select image to enlarge.

Small-scale retail in Madrona neighbourhood in Seattle. Select image to enlarge.

Why am I posting about this?

Langley City is currently working on a new Nicomekl River District Plan and an updated Official Community Plan. Last month, a public workshop was held to gather feedback about what people would like to see in the Nicomekl River District.

One thing that people wanted to see was small-scale neighbourhood retail in two locations south of the Nicomekl River. The two areas were near 50th Avenue and 200th Street, and near 48th Avenue and 208th Street.

When people think of building new retail stores, it is likely the strip mall concept that comes to mind. This is usually associated valid concerns about additional congestion-causing motor vehicle traffic.

The kind of retail envisioned in the Nicomekl River District planning workshop was not strip malls, but corner stores, coffee shops, and other small-scale artisan shops similar to what is in Vernon or the Madrona neighborhood in Seattle.

Giving people the option to walk or ride a bike to pick up a loaf of bread or grab a coffee might even help reduce motor vehicle traffic on our local streets. It will help build stronger neighbourhoods where people will have a higher chance of interacting with their neighbours.

There is much more work to be done on the Nicomekl River District Plan, and there will be more opportunities for public feedback, but adding small-scale retail will help build happier and healthier neighbourhoods.

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