The commercial strip by the river: A study of New Westminster’s urban waterfront

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This research evaluates how economic changes in New Westminster’s central waterfront have influenced land uses and economic activities in the adjacent commercial strip, during the transformation from the industrial to the post-industrial era. By using a mixed method approach, I explore the mutual economic, functional and physical relationships between two geographical entities which have been studied mostly separately, urban commercial strips and waterfront redevelopments. I show that the industrial decline of the central waterfront substantially influenced the adjacent commercial strip, deepened the decline of the strip and caused an ongoing period of economic instability. The mixed-use development on the central waterfront’s former industrial lands was not able to generate positive economic influences to the nearby downtown. The long decline period of the commercial strip and decreasing rent prices resulted in the development of three main retail and services sub- sectors: alcohol related, antiques and bridal stores. My research findings suggest that physical connection between waterfronts and cities as well as their positive images are crucial factors for an economic prosperity of both areas.
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