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Steveston waterfront could have more homes

Coun. Carol Day argued against having residential on a Steveston waterfront strip, saying it's not something Richmond residents want.
A property owner in Steveston has a licence from the province to use the water lot.

A strip along the Steveston waterfront could possibly have some homes, despite city staff recommending against it.

Couns. Alexa Loo, Chak Au and Andy Hobbs voted to allow residential development in a section of the historic waterfront area, albeit with lower buildings than previously allowed. The vote was taken at Tuesday’s planning meeting.

The previous city council asked staff in February to look into removing residential uses on the south side of Bayview Street between 3rd Avenue and No. 1 Road.

This would have ensured it remained a commercial area and supported the fishing industry, city staff explained in a report.

Coun. Carol Day argued for removing the residential use, saying city council heard “loud and clear” from Richmond residents they wanted to preserve Steveston Village as it was.

“We don’t want residential blocking the view of the waterfront,” she said.

Coun. Bill McNulty and Day were the only ones who wanted to remove the ability to build residential in this area.

In its report to the planning committee, city staff note having residential development could undermine the city’s objectives of “maximizing public use and access to and along the waterfront.”

There are no homes along this strip at the moment, but there are two applications for residential development that city staff are currently dealing with.

At 3880 Bayview St., currently a vacant lot, there’s an application to build a three-storey building with parking at ground level and 22 residential units above with a height of 19 metres (about 57 feet).

The second application is to build a second storey onto an existing building at 3900 Bayview St. to have one residential unit with a building height of nine metres.

While the planning committee didn’t go ahead with removing residential development on this strip, it did support reducing the height of buildings to nine metres (about 27 feet) from 20 metres (about 60 feet).

The Steveston residential uses and building height items are expected to come back to city council Monday for a final vote.

Uninterrupted river walkway hits a wall

In the meantime, a plan to develop a continuous pedestrian walkway along the Steveston waterfront might encounter some obstacles.

City council asked staff to look into making a continuous walkway, but at least one lot has provincial permission to extend all the way out onto the water.

The property owner of the lot where the Blue Canoe and other businesses are situated has a water lot licence for its building.

Therefore, city staff noted, there is no way to secure a walkway along the river at this site without redeveloping the property.

A plan put forward in February suggested building a walkway around the restaurant over the water.

Currently, pedestrians need to loop around the building and continue walking along Bayview Street until the boardwalk continues at Imperial Landing.

City staff note the owner has a provincial “licence of occupation over the water lot” for commercial purposes.

“Discussions will continue with both (the province) and the (Steveston Harbour Authority) staff to find opportunities for a continuous waterfront walkway,” staff noted.