The District of Mission is committed to the revitalization of the Mission Waterfront.
We’ve established a comprehensive planning area, representing approximately 296 acres of land, that will guide a future for the waterfront that is complete, walkable and connected.
Revitalizing the waterfront has many benefits that move beyond Mission to the rest of the Fraser Valley and Lower Mainland and will increase access to opportunities, support sustainability, and drive investment and bold economic development.
Cities across the country are actively transforming their waterfronts to create vibrant new neighbourhoods with parks and trails, arts and cultural spaces, diverse housing options and innovative business spaces that incorporate important historical and cultural values.
Council approved a bylaw to add the Waterfront Comprehensive Planning Area designation to the Official Community Plan Bylaw on Sept. 21, 2020.
Mission’s Official Community Plan defines the vision for the waterfront as a vibrant hub of activities, residences, industry and commerce to support a resilient and complete community.
The waterfront represents a significant opportunity to establish a positive, meaningful connection with the Fraser River that redefines these underutilized lands as a premiere place to live, work and play in a growing region.
Learn more about the vision for the Mission Waterfront and progress to date in this video:
Waterfronts are long-term projects that require significant coordination and long-term commitment. We are currently in the Pre-Development and Planning phase where we are focused on:
- Determining a Terms of Reference to initiate land use planning
- Finalizing technical studies to further determine the extent of constraints on the waterfront land;
- Stakeholder engagement with landowners, First Nations, and government and non-governmental agencies, as well as revitalization and development experts.
Completed tasks include the adoption of a strategic framework, the development of guiding principles and roadmap, and the inclusion of the Waterfront Comprehensive Planning Area designation in the Official Community Plan.
Key Documents and Resources
- Media Release” “District Announces Waterfront Office Project Manager” – April 9, 2021
- Media Release: “Contract Awarded for Mission Waterfront Revitalization Masterplan” – March 15, 2021
- Media Release: “Waterfront Planning to Kick Off Early 2021” – December 10, 2020
- Media Release: “Council Takes Next Step on Mission’s Waterfront” – September 22, 2020
- Report to Council: “Mission Waterfront Update” – August 17, 2020
- The Province: “Transforming former industrial sites into vibrant new neighbourhoods an opportunity to boost economic recovery” – June 25, 2020
- Daily Hive: “Mission Planning for a Vibrant Waterfront Revitalization” – Dec. 11, 2019
- Mission Waterfront Revitalization Workshop: Narrated Presentation – Dec. 14, 2018
- Council’s 2018 – 2022 Strategic Plan: “Priority Actions: Waterfront Development”
Mission Waterfront could fit eight Granville Island-sized sites in it!
Developing Our Waterfront
In order to best communicate the complexities of each of the phases of this large project, we have created a series of 6 educational videos as a resource for the public.
What is Mission’s Official Community Plan?
Mission’s Official Community Plan, referred to as the OCP, is our most important tool to shape growth in our community.
It reflects our overall values by establishing a vision for responsible growth and future development over the years to come.
The OCP defines the vision for the waterfront as a vibrant hub of activities, residences, industry and commerce—a complete and connected community that supports sustainability and bold economic investment.
As we step towards our comprehensive land use planning, it is important to address the identified technical and infrastructure challenges that have complicated and delayed development for more than 30 years. Some of the biggest challenges include flood protection, road and highway networks, infrastructure for water, sewer and drainage, dealing with soil contamination and much more.
The District has done studies and consulted experts to determine the best way to improve the deteriorating and underutilized waterfront, which help us understand the steps needed to realize the full potential of the waterfront.
Why are these types of projects so complex?
What does the planning process mean for landowners and existing businesses?
Land use plans provide the blueprint for what Mission’s neighbourhoods will look and feel like and include details such as the mix of housing in a neighbourhood, the size and location of a park or community centre to the types of streetlights that line our streets.
These plans are developed when a neighbourhood is expected to see significant development pressure and change in the coming years. Land use plans create certainty for current residents and developers looking to invest in Mission by clearly defining direction to balance the interests of the property owner and the wider needs of the community.
The History of the Mission Waterfront
Waterfront revitalization has long been a priority of the community. As you first view Mission from the bridge, it is easy to see the potential many have seen over the decades and understand why so many plans and concepts have been explored. In order to understand where we are going, we should first remember where we have been.
This video explores the history of the Waterfront revitalization, taking a step back in time to recognize the importance of previous work undertaken that has brought us to our current master planning phase.
How to make the vision a reality?
Short-term Development and Use
While we all want to see revitalization occur, interim development projects that are permanent in nature and that are proposed without considering the broader planning and infrastructure requirements of the waterfront will require significant collaboration to tie-in flood protection and servicing requirements needed for the entire area.
We appreciate the support of Council, landowners, the community, and senior levels of government as we move forward with this process that respects the Official Community Plan, engages directly with landowners, Indigenous communities and the public, and addresses the global concerns we must meet together to achieve success.
Learn more about the history of the waterfront, what revitalization is, and how this initiative aligns with the District’s overall strategic goals.
History of the Waterfront
The complexities in bringing new life to former industrial and underused waterfront lands are often too onerous and expensive for landowners or groups of landowners to solve on their own. Yet the challenges must be comprehensively addressed and resolved to achieve waterfront revitalization, attract investors and unlock community and financial benefits. Even when brownfield sites are not contaminated, flood issues, deteriorating buildings and surface debris may pose health and safety risks and have a negative aesthetic impact on adjacent property values and the waterfront’s image.
One of the last underdeveloped waterfronts in the Lower Mainland, Mission’s waterfront presents opportunities both timely and beneficial to the District’s long-term social, environmental and economic future. Since 1992, enormous effort on its revitalization has focused on understanding the complexities faced by these former industrial lands. For the community, the waterfront has been identified as a top priority for many years, and there is a strong desire by landowners, elected officials and the general public for a vibrant, revitalized waterfront in Mission. Previous work has identified that a missing element is a comprehensive strategy moving beyond notional land-use considerations and technical constraints to determine with greater certainty the comprehensive process of advancing the revitalization of Mission’s waterfront.
The complex challenges that make revitalization costly and uncertain have thus far made it difficult to attract the substantive private sector investment required. As a result, the Mission Waterfront has remained neglected and underutilized.
Despite these challenges, the strategic location and access to rail, water, highways and proximity to Mission’s burgeoning downtown core present opportunity for unparalleled community and economic benefit. In addition to the economic benefits, the extensive social and environmental benefits include revitalization of the river ecosystem, reconnecting the waterfront to the downtown core and, for residents, creating a regional waterfront destination with the potential to redefine Mission as a city inherently connected to its waterfront.
Strategic alignment with Council objectives (Strategic Plan 2018–2022)
To address these objectives, the Strategic Plan calls for “bold economic development” whereby Mission will aggressively target new business and investment opportunities that provide employment for residents, encourage growth and diversify the tax base. This approach requires some short-term risk-taking to advance the long-term interests of Mission.
In applying these objectives to the waterfront, Council identified the following Priority Actions:
3.1 Waterfront development
- Undertake waterfront pre-development planning
- Develop a roadmap and preliminary business case (feasibility assessment) for waterfront planning
Together, these priorities and objectives support the principles of successful waterfront revitalization worldwide, which is characterized by strong local government leadership, often in partnership with senior levels of government and the private sector. Such cooperative initiatives coordinate and catalyze planning and investment in waterfront revitalization on the premise that the private sector cannot address these large-scale challenges on its own.
Revitalization VS Redevelopment
Waterfront Revitalization Resources
These resources offer interesting and inspiring insights and examples of waterfront revitalization that have formed part of the planning process for Mission’s Waterfront Revitalization Effort.
- Reclaiming the Urban Riverfront
Case examples from across North America of hacking the urban waterfront.
Plans for an inclusive and resilient waterfront.
- Waterfront Toronto
Revitalization effort transforming underused waterfront into a prized public asset.
- West Don Lands
Toronto Waterfront Revitalization received the 2017-2018 Global Awards for Excellence from the Urban Land Institute