Monday, May 28, 2012

Port Royal

Last Saturday, when it was such nice weather, I rode my bike to a part of New Westminster I'd never visited before: Port Royal.

Port Royal is a newly developed subdivision in Queensborough, right at the easternmost tip of Lulu Island. There are 4-5 streets of new homes. It's a real mix of condos, row-houses, standalone homes (small, 1600 sq ft), and some low-rise apartments. A tower is going up as well (apparently, the Quayside residents call it "Queensborough's middle finger"...). The architecture is really nicely done; the area has a really nice mixed feel to it and doesn't have a "cookie cutter" look at all. The landscaping is beautiful.

[small standalone homes]

There's a beautiful boardwalk around the area, following the dyke and the river. There is river access with stone steps provided; the Fraser is tidal at this point and has beaches at low tide.  The developers have also provided public wharves at points, so people can fish. This is some amazing real estate - rivals Granville Island, in my opinion. But quite a bit cheaper.
[River walk in Port Royal with folks enjoying the beach!]

The streets in this neighborhood are rather narrow, which cuts down speeding traffic, and there are lots of pedestrian walkways bisecting the blocks and providing good access to the waterfront.

All in all, it's a very nice neighborhood, with beautiful water views. Definitely worth a visit to stroll around the boardwalk!

That was the good. Now for the bad.

The amenities in Q'boro are, to put it politely, lacking. There is no commerical space in Port Royal, not even a corner store. Q'boro's main street (Ewen) really needs a facelift. The road surface is terrible, the shoulders horrific for cyclists. The streetscape is completely uninviting; there's no greenery. There is not much in the way of shopping there at all, unless you cross the highway and go to the Big Box center, with its Lowe's and WallMart. For most residents, this would involve getting into a vehicle. The walking experience in the Big Box hell is terrible, as is pedestrian access.
There are schools in Q'boro (both new!), but they are not very close to Port Royal, and the roads outside of this planned community can be, well, of rural standard. Sidewalks are not always there. I'd be willing to bet a lot of kids are being driven to school.

The only connection to the rest of New West is via the Q'boro bridge, which, thanks to a major upgrade a number of years back, is actually reasonable to bike and walk over. If you are new to the area, though, the signage does leave a bit to be desired (as in, it's completely confusing), as has been noted by others...

Transit through Q'boro isn't bad, there are a number of connections to 22nd Street Skytrain station. But all the buses must mix with traffic across the Q'boro bridge, which means that they can have a hard time running on schedule. Dedicated bus lanes would be a solution, but unlikely given the political landscape at the present time (the bridge is owned by the Province).

There's a lot of discussion in New West about connecting Port Royal to the Quay with a pedestrian/bike bridge. After having been to Port Royal, I agree that a connection would be fantastic for Port Royal residents; it would give them great access to amenities currently lacking in Q'boro. But, I think there are some downsides as well. Such a connection could pull Port Royal into being part of the Quay, and so undermine any connection it has to the rest of Q'boro. It might suck business from anything that decides to open along a refurbed Ewen...I think the "order of operations" might matter here. Refurb Ewen first, let local businesses become established, and then put in a connection.

Q'boro is in a state of flux, with a lot of development going on. The official community plan is being updated right now. Wouldn't hurt to fill in that questionnaire!

1 comment:

  1. I used to live here back in 2010. Probably the most beautiful part of New West. Canada day fireworks were an absolute delight. Thank you for sharing this.