Tsawwassen Mills and their dilemma. The Coffee Break 11 Oct 2016.
Hello folks and happy Tuesday to you all out there; today I wanted to touch on Tsawwassen Mills and how it – despite a not-so-smooth opening weekend – can be beneficial to shoppers of a certain geographical area.
Background for you readers outside of the lower mainland; Tsawwassen Mills is a new mega mall built near the Tsawwassen community on the south-western tip of the lower mainland near the ferry terminal. Over the weekend (Canadian Thanksgiving long weekend from the 8th of October to the 10th of October) the mall opened and was not well received due to their use of the South Fraser perimeter road which links the rest of the region to the Tsawwassen ferry terminal – the busiest (according to BC Ferries) crossing in the region.
Right from the start you can see how this can be problematic; a mega-mall sharing a major roadway with a ferry terminal. What made it even more disappointing was the fact that during the opening weekend people were stuck in the parking lot attempting to leave for as long as 4 hours – police were called in to help, but even then it was doing little to stem the tide of stuck cars attempting to leave the mall after checking it out. Many visitors went online to vent their rage, and it is not without base – the planners should have designed more than one way in and out of the mall (at least from what I can see on google maps).
Geographically the mall has to rely on the South Fraser Perimeter road as even 52nd Street has to either go south to the SFP, or travel north to some small roads before linking onto the SFP further up, or Deltaport Way which – sadly – also needs to link to the SFP. Now a driver could use Highway 17 which can lead them to Highway 99 of which they can go either east or west depending on where they live in the lower mainland, but the amount of time needed is more than if they had access to the SFP as a means to return home.
Shoppers outside of the Tsawwassen area are looking at a lengthy commute to get to the shops in the area, however the locals on the other hand could reap the benefits of such a massive center so close to home. Yes I know: “but what about their friends around the lower mainland – won’t they miss places like Metrotown and so on?” Tsawwassen to Tsawwassen Mills is 10 minutes; Tsawwassen to Metrotown (another mega-mall in the region) is 41 minutes by car – I would pick the option that lets me get home sooner rather than later (I can always order online if I lived down that far south in the region).
The mall owners probably wanted more customers from across the lower mainland, but considering the situation it is in with regards to road access and a lack of public transit, I suggest they cater to the local shoppers in the area. Folks down there (and near the ferry terminal) could make good use of the facilities present, and this way it will take pressure off malls like Metrotown in Burnaby which already service a chunk of the lower mainland’s population – there are smaller malls around but for the purpose of today’s coffee break read I will concentrate on the mega-malls per se.
Ultimately Tsawwassen Mills could have handled their opening weekend a bit better, but like Black Friday sales crowds will always find something to get frustrated about – after all more people hovering about equals more traffic. Sadly the folks who own the mall are not urban planning experts – they could not predict the congestion that would occur and lack the foresight to better arrange their roads to accommodate the needs of shoppers.