20th St. to 7/11: Please don’t you be my neighbour

Sometimes I wish New Westminster would block new pizza joints, sports bars and dollar stores from setting up shop in the city. It’s frustrating to see shiny new retail space taken over by these kinds of businesses. Not that there’s anything inherently wrong with pizza, beer or Made-In-China junk (ok, maybe that last one), but I think there are already too many of the same. I want New West to have a more varied, and well, ambitious, mix of retailers and restaurants. I want our city to stop being such an economic underachiever and create shopping districts for real shoppers (not just ramen-eating Douglas College students and blue-haired seniors).

[Ed. note – a few commenters have said they were offended at that last comment. I didn’t write it to make fun of seniors and students. I’m well aware that most students eat more than ramen, and that most seniors aren’t afflicted with blue hair! What I tried (and apparently failed) to convey was that too many local businesses, in my opinion, are catering to these stereotypes instead of occupying a distinct niche that appeals to the variety of shoppers I observe here in New West. I don’t just mean that I’d like to see more shops targeting younger and more affluent shoppers (though that would be nice to see too).]

7/11 logo

While my somewhat elitist prejudice is aesthetic and (admittedly) rather passive, Connaught Heights homeowners are actively trying to block a specific business from setting up shop in the sleepy commercial strip on 20th St. just uphill from the SkyTrain The target of their opposition: 7/11.

“This will be a gathering place for street people, prostitutes and drug dealers,” area resident Peter Saran explained to me via email. “It will bring the wrong kind of people into our quiet family orientated community. Not to mention hurt the other local businesses already there and will make the 20th Street traffic situation even worse – if that is possible. There are already numerous 7/11s in New Westminster, but this one will be in a residential neighbourhood.

“We do not oppose business at all but if the city is trying to enhance the area is this the right choice? Not at all! Put in a Starbucks etc… We are not happy and no one cares about the safety of our children.”

Saran says he has talked to various folks at the city, including planners and councillors, but to no avail. I can see why. I mean, should the city really be telling commercial property owners who they can and cannot lease or sell to? There’s sure a slippery slope to fear there. But at the same time, I can see why neighbours would wish to have veto power over what is built in their neighbourhood – especially if they believe a particular business would make the area less safe.

What do you think?

Update: Peter Saran emailed me some comments he wanted me to share with you. Here’s what he has to say upon reading your comments:

Hi Everyone, this is the person that asked Briana to post my concerns on her blog & I thank everyone for their feedback, most of which I agree with. Yes I am the direct neighbor to this project & yes Briana I have spoken to many of my neighbors who do share the same sentiment, as they have approached me. I do have a personal interest, of course I do! I live right beside the project, as would all of you. I am pro business & would welcome one into this space, just not this particular one. I think 7/11 is a fine business in the day, it’s at late night that raises my concerns. My pub shares back streets & alleys with 7/11 & I have seen first hand the affects this business has on its community. We’ve had to call the city to get them to install flood lights around the 7/11 to clean up the drug dealers, street people etc…as our staff were afraid to leave. The city then had to ramp up police enforcement around it to try & take care of the problem, because they wouldn’t deal with it. That is why I had to speak up, not because of being afraid of change, property value or Ozzy- although I thought that was funny:) – Peter

I work closely with the police dept, fire dept & city hall, ask them what happens at 7/11 late night-the stats don’t lie! I have 2 young children & want to protect them, as well as our community. Those of you who know me or my pub-The Rivers Reach- know we are anything but envious non-achievers, we raise thousands of dollars every year for this community & the people & businesses of New Westminster. Last year alone we supported over 200 local causes incl. The Salvation Army, United Way, Justice Institute, Police Dept, Fire Dept, City Hall, Monarch Place, Cops 4 Cancer, the Purpose Society etc… because we care about our community! And Robert if you think these people whom we’ve supported & our customers are bad people then you’re right we invite questionable characters- I think your wrong though, these people are the backbone of this city & the Reach is the exact opposite of a bad influence. I bring these same community first ideals to the West End & will do what is best for my family & the people who live here. My personal opinion is that 7/11 doesn’t do enough to ensure the best interest of the community. Thank-you all for your time & thank-you Briana!! – Peter

I wasn’t expecting quite so many opinions on the matter, but it’s been interesting to see how y’all have responded!

50 Replies to “20th St. to 7/11: Please don’t you be my neighbour”

  1. “This will be a gathering place for street people, prostitutes and drug dealers,”

    At this point I decided to join the PRO 7-11 camp. 🙂 I’m sure this gentleman thought that Ozzy Osbourne caused suicides as well.

    As a resident of Columbia street where there are 67 bridal shops I do question who approves business permits in this city.

    The best thing about a 7-11 is the postal outlet. People fear change and if they want a pet store or a knitting hut to open then they should open one themselves.

  2. It’s funny – my associations with 7/11 are very different than what Peter’s talking about. I have rosy childhood memories of walking down the hill to the 7/11 for Slurpees on hot summer days, and squandering my small allowance on penny candies there. Once he raised the issue of loitering and the “wrong element” I recalled stories about 7/11s who have played opera music through outside speakers to deter teens from hanging around … but I hadn’t expected to hear so strong an argument against. I admit to being muddled on the issue, which is why I thought I’d just present Peter’s concern and see what others think.

  3. I have nice memories of “Sev” too, both current and distant. But seriously, if I see one more dollar store I am going to scream. One question though, isn’t there a little corner store on 20th? Putting that one out of business would be my objection to a Sev in that area. Or has that operation already closed his doors since there is essentially nothing going on over there except that awesome Pho joint? More postal outlets would be appreciated, provided this Sev would actually have a postal outlet.

    I agree with Jason that if one wants to see a knitting shop or what have you, one should open one up, although not everyone has the capital or chutzpah to make the leap (and I’m talking at myself here – for years I have sworn at the lack of fabric store in New West, and seriously considered opening one up but was afraid to take the plunge, and then just when I figured I might be able to do it, lo, Fabricland is here down in Columbia Square. Yay! for Fabricland, I say)

  4. FYI:
    The store at the corner of 20th and Edinburgh has re-opened. It is nice, clean and has a slushy machine!

  5. Our 37-unit residential building in Denver is facing a 7-11 moving in against our wishes. We have proven crime statistics for the one that is just one block away and don’t need those crimes moving any closer to us. 7-11 says they care about community but they haven’t listened to ours. You can read our story as well as see all of the crimes committed in 7-11s across the country (almost one per day) listed out via twitter on the sidebar of our blog. Starbucks, restaurants, and other retail establishments just don’t have those types of crime statistics. If you are concerned about your community I urge you to come check out what we are fighting in Denver at http://isbelldenver.wordpress.com/.
    Isbell Residents Don’t Thank Heaven for 7-11

  6. Oh my! I remember the days when we lived downtown Van, during a particularly active period of time for pan handlers and vagrents, to harrass Robson St shoppers. They put a 7-11 in on Thurlow/Alberni. I said at the time, it would attract the vagrents. And I was right. that corner turned into a sleeping hutch and gathering place for all the street folks, good and bad. It turned a lovely corner into a place to avoid.

    I think, judging the corner that this NW 7-11 is going into, you could expect much the same.
    I too, remeber 7-11 as a great place to go. But times are different now. Parks used to be a place you could send your kids to play on their own too. Now, we would not dream of it.
    The only way to keep these businesses out of your hood is to not shop there. If they don’t make money, then they can’t stay. But i think we all know that a 7-11 in that area is going to do just fine.

    And as a side note, I think Starbucks would be better for the community then 7-11. Both businesses generate waste and are based on convenience, but at least at Starbucks you can’t buy cigarettes, rolling papers, and lighters.

    my 2 cents.

  7. Hi Franci,

    I am sorry if you are offended. I didn’t intend to cause offense – certainly not all seniors are “blue-haired” nor are all students “ramen-eating” but I would say that there are plenty of local establishments that cater to each group. I just meant to say that I would like to see local businesses target other market segments.

  8. This from a senior friend who visits NW weekly:

    “I don’t see what 7/11 has to do with druggies, prostitutes or vagrants. I do know they usually sell bus tickets and passes as well as being good for picking up odds and ends when the other stores might be already closed.”

    I know of another senior who was “mad!…when did you last see a bhs? 30 years ago?”

    24 hr service is cool, often maybe useful…on one occasion I was not given even a lozenge in emergency (hospital) & had to find a 24 hr pharmacy…

    7/11s usually have post offices – I appreciate that one on 12th St – does 20th St have one already?

    Blue hair is usually an accident, unless you’re a teenager? In the 60’s a U prof joked about “menopause blue”. Now she probably wouldn’t get away with that either.

    Did I buy Chai by Night from you, Briana? at the Village Inn? it was really good – just with hot water too.

  9. I think banning a particular business from moving into a neighborhood can be compared to banning a particular race from doing the same, with the same pitfalls.

    Consuming high fat and carb laden foods sold in certain restaurants may increase obesity and other health problems, so why don’t we block them from establishing in our city?

    Businesses that obey the laws of our community, have the same right to be here as the people who do the same.

    Instead of banning businesses that we feel create unsafe conditions, our recourse as citizens of a democracy is to influence our politicians to make laws that protect the safety of all its citizens. So, instead of lobbying to block a business, lobby to implement a safer community, such as one that does not produce as much homelessness and drug addiction, which leads to criminal behavior.

  10. I used to live by the seven eleven on Austin in Coquitlam. It is where I bought bus tickets when I went to Centennial Secondary. i don’t recall anything untowards about it; it was really students buying slurpies and people buying lottery tickets.

    I may be wrong, but I don’t think that cities can zone out particular businesses, eg allow stores but not allow seven elevens. I am pretty sure that the seven eleven on Austin was not open 24 hours, so maybe the common sense solution is to ask the city to limit business hours.

  11. Franci,

    No you wouldn’t have bought Chai from me at Village. I don’t work there! Chai By Night is made by Jen Arbo though, so that’s probably the connection you’re thinking of! Glad to hear it was good tea.

  12. I will always associate 7-11 with the bonk.

    Growing up in Castlegar, we didn’t have a 7-11, the nearest one was 30km down the highway in Trail. In High School, my cycling buddies and I would meet right after school to do a Slurpee Run: a brisk road ride to Trail, broken up by occasional sprints, solo breaks, chase groups… everything I know about bike racing I learned in those rides. Once we got to Trail, we stopped for the ubiquitous Slurpee, quaffed them at headache-pace, then turned around and started the big climb out of Trail up the old Smelter Road. By half way back to the “gar”, the combination of a fast ride out and a post-Slurpee sugar rush inevitably caused a few bonks (the cyclist term for running your blood glycogen so low you immediately get too tired to stand up, never mind ride).

    At the time, sports history buffs will note, two Canadians wore the yellow jersey in the Tour de France: Alex Staida and Steve Bauer, both riding for the 7-11 Team.

  13. I have been a resident in this neighbourhood now for over 6 years. My wife and I moved from Burnaby to New Westminster as we felt this was an area in transition and has a great community feel. We have 2 children 7 and 2 and great neighbours all around who also have children with similar ages. A 7-11 is a great business in the area as currently their is no nice clean modern facility to take your kids enjoy a slushee in walking distance. Neighbourhoods and people evolve I dont know why we have such a backwards thinking and fear of change everytime something progressive is going to happen in New West. I am perplexed by the people who never contribute to the progression of society whether it is a 7-11 in the neighbourhood or the HST or anything else in BC – everything has a left-wing twist – fear business and change, yet without business how would we all provide for our families? The reason nothing gets done is because the envious non-performers in society have nothing better to do than complain. Our country and all other countries have been built on progression and evolution. Lets continue building nice places in our community to walk to with our children and enjoy the beauty it has to offer. Since when does buying a slush, or coffee or candy for kids with their allowance mean drug dealers and homeless people are taking over? Would you rather see a tent city on the vacant land? Let's get real and let the risk-taking investors of our community make it a better place for all of us. I would rather have businesses move in, create jobs, pay local taxed within our community than see that money go elsewhere and we as NW citizens be called a bunch of old hippies.

  14. I am a neighbour near 20th and London. I’m mainly concerned with the fact that 7-11’s are 24 hour stores. I don’t think 24 hour stores are appropriate or necessary in residential neighbourhoods.

    Traffic safety is also a big concern. With the Tweedsmuir Montessori program moving to Connaught Heights Elementary, more children will be crossing at London and 20th Street to get to school. This corner is already very dangerous. For example, there’s very poor visibility when turning out from London Street because the hill. The addition of cars turning into and out of a store would make this intersection even more dangerous. If a store is put at this corner, a regular traffic signal needs to be installed at 20th and London.

  15. Iam concerned about compromising the traffic calming that was established in Connaught Heights in late 1996-98. To open up more traffic to 20th Street will only make a bad situation worse for the morning, evening commute.

    Connaught Heights is an oasis of a quiet residential community, the School Board is pondering changes to Connaught School…French Immersion for example, this will bring more traffic concerns.

    We need businesses on 20th that are primarily walk-to for the West End.


  16. Bob, I’m not quite sure I understand what you mean. Wouldn’t a 7/11 be a walk-to business for residents? Having a corner store nearby that is open 24 hours would encourage residents to use their cars less, would it not (rather than get in them and drive to Safeway etc). Am I misunderstanding what you mean?

  17. hi i think all is jumping the gun..do we have any concrete evidence that a 711 is acuually going there has there been any sinage on the proprty.. on this issue has anyone looked into this..i heard Tim hortons in a article in the new west several months back among others to be tenents in that complex as i tried to inquired about a small space for myself in that complex..this is all speculation..

    Never the less i think it would be a good idea to have a nice new building on the corner opened 24hrs.well lite up and that would keep the area safer due to more public apperance among police Crusiers in for early/late coffee & donuts Ha..Ha..there through out the night and not to mention keep dawson garage from parking there cars all over the street in a mess.& for me bonus to get morning coffees befor i get on the road thru queensbouogh hwy.rather than WAITING TILL I GET TO SURREY. not as bad as u make it sound postal outlet is a another adavntage that i think we all can make use of..

  18. By the way – I just did some research on Mr. Peter Saran and apparently he lives close to the site in discussion and obviously his comments are biased and must be based on his personal interest in maintaining the value of his own property – which is not reflective of the entire community. In fact Mr. Saran is managing River’s Reach Pub as per my call to the establishment. His own livelihood depends on an establishment that openly invites all kinds of good people and questionable characters. All the things he wants to avoid as per his comments to the author? I am confused since when did a 7-11 become worse than a pub establishment in the neighbourhood for our kids?

  19. Hi Robert: I’m sorry I wasn’t more clear in the post. Peter is indeed right next door to the property in question. His concern is very personal. I should have been more clear that this is his concern, and that of his immediate neighbours (or so he tells me). Peter is the manager of the River’s Reach, but I think his argument is that pubs like the Reach are located in areas that are known commercial districts. Until recently, 20th has been pretty sleepy, and 7/11 will bring a different kind of shopper (though I don’t know if I agree that it’s a magnet for riffraff).

  20. Hi Briana,

    I appreciate your clarification – But I think Rivers Reach is very much surrounded by a real mix of commercial and residential as is 20th st. Isn’t there a tattoo place existing there somewhere. In any case I think when one drives a personal agenda and does not think of the community as a whole and weighs the pros and cons accordingly – their is a real slippery slope. Especially if your family livelihood is supported by a business which many may see as a bad influence in their neighbourhood.

  21. Robert: I agree with you! But I can also see how Peter and his neighbours could be upset. It’s a challenging tension to explore (individual rights vs business & community priorities) and I think it’s worth discussing…. But I’m afraid I have no solutions to offer! Not yet at least. Interesting to hear how people feel on both sides.

  22. Wow, can't believe how pessimistic people can be – whatever happened to the glass being half full? I don't live to far from the area and I think it would be great for kids and families to be able to walk down and get a slurpee or a candy bar. 7-11's are always well lit so I highly doubt drug dealers are gonna choose to stand under the lighting and do their deals. In fact, the vacant lot that's there now could be a home for dealers instead. I think the sooner something is built there the better!

  23. Robert:

    The Dutchman tattoo shop is what you're thinking about and I believe that they have relocated to 6th Street in Burnaby, to a much more spacious location. As much as people don't want to admit it, 20th street is a main thoroughfare. As are all the streets in New Westminster where 7/11 has located themselves. If people are worried about loitering people at all hours, be thankful its not a Tim Horton's opening like the one on 6th Street or a Starbucks with a patio on it.

    In actuality, by opening a location on 20th Street, they are providing an opportunity for the residents to walk to the store as opposed to hike 8 blocks to 12th street or even worse DRIVE there. Plus the fact that its near a skytrain station, they can offer an amenity that as of now doesn't exist within walking distance of the station.

    With regards to the idea of hookers, druggies and undesirables hanging about. There's a solution to it. Have the NWPD have some constables walking the beat in the neighbourhood, as they should be doing uptown around 6th and 6th, along Columbia and in and around Sapperton. Have a visable presence on the street, person to person, not just coasting around in the cruisers. The Vancouver cops walk the beat around the DTES, downtown, etc. Its always blown my mind why the NWPD doesn't have beat cops in major areas to establish a presence. Out of the cars and on foot. It would offer a measure of assurance to the citizens of New West to see the police in a more pro active role, policing, as opposed to cruising up and down the streets in their cars all shift.

  24. Interesting discussion. Raising the issue of Rivers Reach ownership is a bit of an ad hominem, but got me thinking. Before a liquor license is granted to a pub, there is a process in place to petition the neighbours within a certain radius. Any bets on how such a survey would work for 7-11?

    I do echo Bob’s comments, though. London Street at 20th is part of a new bike route, and I would hate to see the traffic calming on London compromised by the traffic ingress/egress from the store. Yes, we are talking about 20th at London street here: so the idea of pot-heads hopping off the Skytrain to walk 8 blocks uphill to get their ScoobySnacks and engaging in petty crime along the way may also be a little far-fetched. Aren’t they more likely to ride one or two more stations, to where there are convenience stores physically attached to the stations? One thing about Pot-heads: low motivation. I also think the argument that “7-11 = hookers” is silly. I can’t remember the last time we had a 7-11 at 12th and 6th, nor am I accustomed to hookers hanging out at 6th and 4th (maybe the Rivers Reach scares them away…).

    Ps: I rode home from a downtown meeting yesterday along the old bike route under the Skytrain: 7-11 signs all along the way. I totally forgot it was/is the “7-11 bike route”. Sponsoring a pro team, financing a bike route, inventing the Slurpee; is there anything 7-11 didn’t do for cycling in the 80’s?

    Pps: full disclosure: I am one of those sketchy types who frequents the River’s Reach, so my bias should be declared

  25. Pat, you have to laugh though. I swear that New West is predicated on the boogeyman syndrome. If you put (insert pub, 7/11, Donald's market) here, it'll bring the undesirables to my neighbourhood. Gotta love Bob's comments, being a city councillor and all. To paraphrase, Connaught Heights is a residential neighbourhood, with traffic issues due to the potential of a french immersion programme being introduced. Geez Bob, they're not opening a Walmart in your hood. Honestly, I think that Bob's idea of New Westminster would be pictures that currently exist in the museum. Its funny that traffic issues weren't a concern when Walmart and that huge mall was stuck on Queensborough, yet talking of opening a 7/11 in Bob's hood and its "rush hour in Connaught Heights." In terms of hours and rowdiness, I wonder how the people around Belmont like the Tim Horton's being 24hrs and the crowd that it attracts at times. But that's right, they don't live in Bob's neighbourhood, the only neighbourhood in New West that's in the words of Coun. Osterman "is an oasis of a quiet residential community." Relax Bob, you have another 16 months before the next election.

    I think alot of people in New West are increasingly getting tired of "traffic calming measures." These measures = traffic congestion. An example would be Columbia Street. The narrowing of that street pushed alot of traffic down onto Front Street.

    In the afternoon its a nightmare down there, because what should be an exclusive truck route only, we now have to compete with 4 wheelers who are trying to avoid the congestion on Columbia. All under the illusion that Front Street is faster.

  26. I know I'm getting a little off the original post here but had to comment on traffic calming and trucks.

    Well, I do agree that the traffic calming on Columbia Street has pushed traffic elsewhere, including 6th and 8th Avenues. I do believe though that the intent was in keeping with the City's long-established policy of keeping arterial/regional traffic on the outskirts/border streets of the city.

    Front Street should NOT be an exclusive truck route. Once truckers start paying tolls to use a particular street for their exclusive use then maybe we can talk about that idea. Let's not be the first city to do that though. We don't want even more trucks than we already have. Presently the amount of trucks already using Front Street have driven away a number of businesses that used to call Front Street home. Try breathing the air down there for 15 or 20 minutes. In fact, Metro Vancouver had an air monitoring station there for a while. It'd be interesting to see those numbers.

  27. Neil, can you tell me of any other municipality that charges commercial traffic to use arterial routes to move through their cities in Canada? Or for that fact in the Pacific Northwest? I don't see the city of Vancouver or the Port of Vancouver charging trucks to use Commissioners Road. If you eliminated the 4 wheelers on front street (the through street part from Columbia to Columbia, Not the retail side) I would say that it would actually decrease the amount of time it would take commercial traffic to convey through the City.

    And Neil, trucks have used Front Street for decades, not just as a through street, but also when there were warehouses and piers on the docks. How do you think Army and Navy get their goods delivered, by horse and buggy???? I go for walks regularly down by the Quay and park oon Front Street. The parkade does more to harm air quality on Front Street than the commercial truck traffic. It acts as a trap for the air, not just the trucks but the cars idling as well, and the trains that come through too. For the record, the Company I work for has invested alot of money in equipment that actually traps the carbon particulates in the exhaust. When the trap is full, there is a built in afterburner within the exhaust system that burns the particulate matter down, leaving only water. Newer technology isn't just for cars Neil. Not too mention the fact that if you want to carry freight on the ports, you have to acquire a port pass. To do so, your truck has to meet emission standards that are some of the toughest in Canada. Contrary to what you may think Neil, even though I'm paid by the hour as an in town company truck driver, I don't like sitting on Front Street, which is actually the North Fraser Perimeter Road fighting cars trying to get through during the afternoon. I much prefer to move through New West as efficiently and quickly as possible, so that my customers (Safeway warehouse, Superstore Warehouse, Costco Warehouse, Canadian Tire, and various and sundry other goods manufacturers and retailers) can get their freight on time. So that people like you can go and shop to your heart's content to buy those goods you need in life.

    But more importantly to me personally….. aren't you holding an event this Sunday in Sapperton? And what's one of the centre pieces of your event? I'm not talking about the bouncy castle here, though wait a minute, a truck brings that to the event. Hmmm…. let's see. It's big, it's black and gold, has a stage and sound system with it. And it bends near the front. Yep, its the Teamsters Local 31 tractor trailer.

    But I guess you don't see the hypocrisy in being overtly critical and opposed to something such as trucks anywhere in New West, but certainly don't mind them when it suits your needs, to help out in a community event, in an attempt to heighten your profile in the community.

  28. Hi Dave,

    Once again you have spoken without having clarified your facts. I hate to burst your bubble but Neil and the McBride Sapperton Residents' Association volunteer their time to co-host the pancake beak st. They are not the organizers and Neil (and the Residents Association) has nothing to do with the booking of the Teamsters truck. I do on behalf of the Sapperton Business Association. And for the record, we are very thank full for the support the teamster give to our event in efforts to raise money for the Royal Columbian Hospital Foundation.

  29. Dave, it was not my intention for you to take my comments as a personal attack. That was not the spirit in which they were posted. I apologize if you interpreted them in such a manner.

    I'm not suggesting we charge trucks a toll on Front Street but your comment about "4-wheelers" being seemingly in the way seemed to imply that a designated truck route means trucks only. That was the origin of my comment regarding tolling trucks.

    I'm not, as you seem to think, opposed to all trucks everywhere. I do think for a city of our size we seem to have an incredible amount of trucks criss-crossing our city. It makes sense though considering our geography. You're right that the parkade traps the emissions down there though. Speaking of emissions and such, do commercial vehicles have to pass an annual or regular emissions inspection like Air-Care?

    Truth be told my heart is more content when I'm not shopping. 🙂

    BTW: check this out http://www.storyofstuff.com/

    I'm going to wrap this up now though as I don't want to hijack the original post.

  30. I find that here in New Westminster it seems that there is always a group that is opposed to anything that comes along.

    Would these people rather look at a vacant lot or falling down building as opposed to investors that are renewing the community.

    Exactly as some of the comments here state, how can you single out retail businesses? What is wrong with 7-11? or Walmart adding groceries, or Safeway, or "fill in the blank——-"? Not to mention people coming out of the woodwork to stop the building of the new secondary school.

    New Westminster residents need to grow up.

    Visit Burnaby, or Surrey, or Coquitlam and what do you see? New Westminster residents doing their shopping, swimming, recreation, what have you, outside of their city. Wonder why?

    It's called progress. Let it happen. Don't be so stuck in the past and worried about change.

  31. I think if people want to keep 7-11 out of their neighborhoods, the existing convenience stores should be open 24 hours.

    Some people have legitimate reasons to be up past 8pm on weekdays: people who work graveyards. We too need our morning caffeine and a breakfast on-the-go, even if it is at midnight.

  32. Briana, you reallty should remove your reference to "blue-haired seniors" where you say "I want our city to stop being such an economic underachiever and create shopping districts for real shoppers (not just ramen-eating Douglas College students and blue-haired seniors." I'm sure you were aiming to be witty and not meaning to offend, but this remark is a real lapse of taste on your part, and (I'm glad to say) quite out of character, judging by other entries on this blog. Just look at what you've written — you're contrasting "real shoppers" who are more "ambitious" with elderly female residents of the City, and making fun of their appearance. Presumably by "real shoppers" you mean younger people with more money and contemporary tastes. Your reference to students doesn't bother me, because they have their whole lives ahead of them, and you're not mocking anything essential about them. But mocking elderly ladies of limited means with a dig at their appearance like this is unkind, and unworthy of you.

  33. Hi Richard, thanks for your feedback. As I said earlier in the comments, I didn't intend to offend either students or seniors. I thought it was obvious that I didn't mean that ALL students and seniors fit either stereotype – it's more that there are (in my opinion) many businesses here that target that clientele, and I want to see more variety. Not just younger people with more money, but also seniors who don't fit the stereotypical mold. It's obvious that what I intended to say didn't come across clearly, and I apologize for that. This post was written hastily and I evidently needed to spend more time editing it. I'll try to remember to choose my words more carefully in future.

  34. What's being missed here is the bigger picture and issue of "our city being such an economic underachiever" and there being shopping districts that will attract ALL types of shoppers. Even the 6th and 6th area or Columbia St (which are the best NW has to offer) are pathetic in comparison with other walking and shopping areas, like 4th Ave in Vancouver, Hastings in North Burnaby or even the rundown Commercial Dr.

    What have those in office done to attract flagship companies to these areas? And yes, 6th and 6th is getting better with the renovations and addition of Save-On and others but it's still a dump. Plus, it's the problem of the chicken or the egg. My girlfriend would love to open a woman's boutique on 6th for the "younger and more affluent (female) shoppers" but there are no younger affluent shoppers in that area so how do you get them there if no one is willing to open shops for them?

    The city needs to help with cosmetic upgrades and incentives for entrepreneurs to lay roots and make it "cool" to go to places like 6th and 6th. The people in office also have to stop kowtowing to seniors groups and other special interest groups. "I don't care if a new high-rise is going to block your view, you've been there for 30 years, did you think there was never going to be anymore development?"

  35. This is a fascinating discussion. Thanks to everyone who's contributed.

    First off, and not to belabour the point, when I read Briana's comments about 'blue-haired ladies' and 'ramen-eating students' (my paraphrase, there) my instant interpretation was that she was directly referring to ideas of those things, and not to actual groups of people. I don't believe, in context, it was a comparison of one group versus another. Therefore, to me, it was innocuous and not unkind at all. So, there.

    Second, where I believe that residents should ideally have some input in which businesses open in their neighbourhoods, I am personally of a mind that the more mixed a neighbourhood is when it comes to zoning, and to the diversity of business, the better. Let's have corner shops and high streets that we can walk to. This is not just to infuse our communities with commercial destinations that appeal to a wider range of residents. It makes our neighbourhoods into real communities that are visually interesting and worth exploring on foot or by bike. It also (as commenter Jen has astutely pointed out), it means less car use. If we want to restrict noise, let it be the noise of automobile traffic. And if we wish to protect our children, let it be because we encourage the healthy practice of walking and biking to accessible shopping locales without breathing in carbon monoxide when they do it.

    Cheers for the post, Briana!

  36. Pat – your post deserves applause. I am a daily user of the 7-11 trail and indeed have been stuck for sundries late in the evening or required the use of a nearby post office. 7-11 has contributed to the NW community with the bike path and has made my life easier with providing a store nearby.

    Life in urban and sub-urban Canada has had a "sev" nearby for a very long time. This is a case of the NIMBYs.

  37. @ Dave Lundy

    Pitt Meadows charges for dump trucks and gravel trucks and other heavy equipment on Harris Road. I understand many communities do something similar.

    But this is just an example. It may be uncommon.

  38. @Ray please tell your girlfriend that there are some young women here that wouldn't mind spending a few dollars on nice, independent, well made clothing. Currently, we shop online most of the time.

  39. I haven't been back here in some time. Nice to see the discussions flowing. Peter I appreciate your comments and your concerns;however, I just think that when this blog was set up open candid motives as to who initiated this anti-business/community rhetoric would have helped many of us to understand why such a comotion over a 7-11. Unfortunately I had to do some digging vs. it being outlined openly. I do appreciate you coming out and speaking openly. And I do not think that the people in the community who support causes is a bad thing. All of us as business people and citizens care about our community! And typically it is the citizens who support the business in turn enable the business to give back. I did not say everyone visiting your establishment is questionable, (please read my comments carefully) You will get shady characters in all public areas and establishments. This a reality of life and our duty as people who share a small planet to live in peace and harmony together with all walks of life. 7-11, Starbucks, Tim Hortons and many other corporate businesses give back, care for their communities as much as they can, create jobs etc. As intelligent and educated citizens we can not be prejudice towards one vs. another without real facts based on their lack of community efforts. If there is an issue with dealers, or the criminal element, is this not a policing issue? Why kill an establishment because our law enforcement policies can not keep our neighbourhood safe (which by the way I think is not true – its just typical fear tactics used by citizens who have their own personal interest to look out for.)

    1. Hi Robert,

      If it wasn’t clear what the motivation was behind this post, it would be my fault. I intended it to come through that Peter and some of his neighbours have these concerns and want to raise the discussion, but perhaps I should have put more emphasis on that. Anyway, it’s certainly not something that was intended to be hidden, and Peter had nothing to do with how this post was presented. He came to me with his concerns, and I published this post as a conversation-starter … and boy, was it ever!

  40. Hello everyone. Eric Pattison here, architect for the new com'l bldg. on 20th.

    This is an interesting discussion. For years I've been designing projects and sheparding them through our community approval process. The dialogue is always dynamic, varied and rewarding. Thanks Briana and Peter for getting this going.

    Some info:

    – there has been no confirmation from the owner which tenants are going into the two shops in the bldg.;

    – the uses can only be as permitted in the existing C-1 neighbourhood com'l zoning;

    – the site is far underdeveloped, ie. a much larger/denser building could be built but is not proposed;

    – we always bring, and the City requires, strong crime prevention or CPTED criteria to a project to enhance site safety;

    – the bldg. is designed to orient the com'l windows, signs, etc. away from the neighbours and landscaping will provide a buffer.

    – when we did the 12th St. Art Deco Design Guidelines with the City we sought to reaffirm the original mid-century character of the area;

    – our 2003 Dawson Service bldg. attempted to capture this design tradition with retro signage, curves, etc., the new bldg. will build on this design notion.

    I am keen to see how the project will strengthen the street character with more "moderne" styling, and provide a renewal of walkable, neighbourhood services.

    1. Hi Eric,

      Thanks for your comments! I really appreciate you adding your piece in here. It’s interesting to here that the zoning would allow a larger building, and good to hear that you’re trying to consider the effect on neighbours of the overall design.

  41. So what ever happened ?

    Did the 7/11 get put in or not ?

    Inquiring minds want to know !

    I can see now how you get offended by "young councilor" after yourself stereotyping blue haired seniors and Douglas collage students !!!!

    (jab) :}


  42. Interesting points. Seem a little late into the discussion but want to add my 2 centts as well. I'm interested to see comments from Eric Pattison here. Aren't you the same architect that designed Dawson Service? Aren't you the SAME person that said there would be NO cars parked on the street from Dawsons. Umm… now what are you going to do for us?
    By the way, I attended a meeting a year ago at WERA where you and the project owner presented. Poor showing on your parts when we were told we get a car wash or a 7/11. Really liked you committment to the 'hood with your take it or leave it attitude.

  43. 7/11 had every right to buy that property and whoever owned it before had every right to sell it. Don't want it there? don't give it business, still doesn't close? MOVE AWAY. Neighborhoods change and you have to accept that. Just because you chose to live there doesn't mean the city and the local businesses are required to run everything it does by you? grow up. I learned when i was just a kid that no matter what happens someone isn't going to be happy, and something you have to one day realize is that sometimes that someone IS YOU (shocking, right?) and you just have to SUCK IT UP. "We don't want that place in our town because we don't like the types who go there", i ask anyone to tell me honestly that doesn't sound like DISCRIMINATION. Maybe the parents worried about their children should watch the example they set for them, last thing the world needs is more hypocritical self-centered prudes.

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