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Mission Waterfront

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In 2017, Council supported a major project to develop a Waterfront Revitalization Pre-development Strategy that will establish a clear and targeted approach to advance the redevelopment efforts and undertake additional technical studies to further determine the extent of constraints on the Waterfront lands. This project is funded through a grant of approximately $500,000 from the Strategic Priorities Fund (Federal Gas Tax Fund).

During this initial phase of the project the steering committee is actively engaging with landowners, First Nations, government and non-governmental agencies, and revitalization and development experts to identify opportunities, challenges, and priorities.

Revitalization VS Redevelopment

Redevelopment is generally used to refer to transforming buildings or land from previous uses or structures to new ones. Revitalization is comprehensive in scope and looks at transforming areas that are derelict or underutilized to provide new infrastructure (roads, services, parks, etc.)  land use and development. Revitalization breathes new life into entire cities or communities – far beyond the physical boundaries of the area being transformed

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.

Introductory Presentation

This narrated presentation was prepared as an introduction to the Waterfront Revitalization project for Council and stakeholders.

Short-term Development and Use

We all recognize the potential and the entire community has a vested interest in our waterfront. While we all want to see revitalization occur, in the interim we are not supporting new development or uses that are permanent in nature or further frustrate global revitalization efforts in the future.

We appreciate the support of Council, landowners, the community, and the Government of Canada as we move forward with this process that respects the OCP, engages directly with landowners, Indigenous communities and the public, and addresses the global concerns we must meet together to achieve success.

We anticipate beginning land-use planning in 2020, at which point we will develop the plans and phasing required to support active development on the waterfront.

 

History of the Waterfront

One of Mission’s most celebrated qualities is its relationship with the Fraser River. Historically significant for cultural, recreational, social and industrial uses, the waterfront has endured a more recent period of slow deterioration. Contamination, flood protection, site stability, municipal servicing requirements and land fragmentation have introduced significant redevelopment risk and uncertainty.

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)

Subsequent to the most recent OCP, Council completed a Strategic Plan identifying community development priorities and objectives. Fundamental to this strategy is the redevelopment and higher utilization of Mission’s current core (waterfront and downtown), as well as industrial land expansion that would address current and future employment needs and retail spending leakage, and diversification of our tax base to support infrastructure and community amenities.

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.