Editor: There is a trend happening across Metro Vancouver that we would be remiss not to adopt: retrofitting our outdated shopping malls to be centres of our communities.
First it was Metrotown, then more recently there’s the “mini-city” they’re building at Oakridge, and recently an article talked about a proposal to build 12 apartment towers at Richmond Centre mall.
This begs the question, why not Willowbrook Mall?
It was exciting news last year when we learned about the new developments coming to Willowbrook Mall that included new retail components and a modernizing make-over. However, missing was the mention of creating a destination like the ones that are being developed at other malls.
Realistically, if rapid transit ever does make its way down Fraser Highway (either LRT or SkyTrain) then there should almost certainly be a stop at Willowbrook Mall. If that’s the case, there should be the appropriate mix of residential, commercial, and amenities that befit the central location.
Now, understandably people are concerned about development taking away from the character of communities, but in this case, retrofitting the mall would in fact add to the character of the Willowbrook area. With Sears laying empty, the City and Township have a great opportunity to create something special.
There may be legitimate reasons why this sort of development isn’t being talked about. If it’s because it would be difficult, or complicated, we need to take another look at it. Why shouldn’t Langley have a town centre that’s not only connected by transit to the rest of Vancouver but also has the amenities and added residential units that would come with it? Why ignore Willowbrook?