If we design and develop our cities and our spaces around basic principles of walkability we would have healthier happier citizens and much more legible places. You would think that the Quebec developer Cambridge Ivanhoe who are operating a 1.2 million square foot mega mall on First Nations land would have thought through the experience of those making the most minimum ecological footprint to access the mall-those folks that are walkers and transit users.
But that has not happened. There are large slabs of lonely concrete smack on the highway with no shelters where transit passengers huddle in the rain to catch a bus. And if you are walking from Tsawwassen or from another part of the First Nations development, you are also out of luck-even though there is an access eastward from the residential development at Tsawwassen Shores to the mall, there are no crosswalks or easy pedestrian access points from the parking lot to the start of the mall. The design of the mall attempts to funnel folks on the east side of the mall and on the south side, where there ARE properly painted crosswalks and pedestrian amenities. On the west side? None.
You do see groups of people massed on either side of Highway 17 at 52nd Street who have decided to walk to the mall. Like many suburban places, people in Tsawwassen are great walkers, and think nothing of a stroll of a few kilometers for fitness and to see the ‘hood.
This lack of walking amenity was mentioned in The Delta Optimist by a local resident who noted: “Driving home in the dimming light of the evening last week, I noticed the tiny concrete island between the right turn lane and the rest of the lanes of 52nd Street on the south side of Highway 17 full of people carrying bags and hanging onto children. They were waiting patiently for the pedestrian sign to light up so they could continue walking east on Highway 17 towards the bus stop. As my car climbed the 52nd Street hill, I passed several school children happily walking down the sidewalk towards the mall. This was already a dangerous intersection before the mall (remember the woman on the scooter who was killed in 2014).
Once the days grow shorter and the weather becomes wetter and colder, asking people to walk across that busy highway in the dark is a disrespectful proposition…As a half-way measure in the meantime, I would suggest moving the bus stop into the mall parking lot. There must be enough room in that massive lot for a couple of buses to exchange passengers in a safe, out of the way location…We should be encouraging people to walk to the mall from Tsawwassen, and to take the bus from other locations, but I know I would be leery of letting a child go to the mall without an adult if it means crossing those busy lanes of speeding traffic.”