The Steveston Salmon Festival: 5 Urbanist Sights to See

Parade through Steveston Scramble

The Steveston Salmon Festival is happening this Canada Day weekend. The festival has been going for some 73 years down on the southern edge of Richmond. The event is a delight for those who love of the beautiful fish that was at a time so important that the town once deemed itself “Salmonopolis”. The main attraction is  ~1200 pounds of wild salmon barbequed over open fire pits to celebrate the village’s fishing heritage. Steveston is full of canneries and relics of a fishing economy so impressive that the Arbutus-Steveston interurban line to the village was one of the last pieces of the BC Electric Railway to maintain operations (until the 1950s).

Festivities start at 6:30 am and go all day. With a pancake breakfast, parade, a variety of foods including salmon and corn on the cob, music and fireworks on offer throughout the day it is sure to be a wonderful time spent with friends and family.Details on the official website: stevestonsalmonfest.ca

This festival also provides a great opportunity to see the little fishing village from an urban design perspective. Steveston is a treasure trove of urbanist delights with everyday urban design elements hiding in plain sight. Here are 5 things for urbanists to check out as they wander through Steveston during the festival or any other time this summer:

1: Bike the Interurban Along Railway Avenue

Biking to the festivities in Steveston is the smartest choice if an easy  walk to the village is not an option. With the Arbutus Greenway open, you can even make a day of it all the way in from Downtown Vancouver. Following the Railway Greenway which used to be the interurban connector from Marpole to Steveston, allows for a smooth and vehicle free ride. Once you enter the village there will be a couple of options for bike storage, one at the Gulf of Georgia Cannery and one at the Steveston Community Centre. No bike lock will be needed as it will be operated like a coat check.

2: Explore the Interurban Tram Building

The Steveston Interurban Tram building is located at the corner of Moncton Street and No. 1 Road and adjacent to the Steveston Community Park. It is a great place to explore what once was for commuter transportation at the peak of the canning and fishing industry. On July 1st 2018, from 10am to 5pm the doors will be open to see tramcar 1220 and free crafts for children will be on offer for Canada Day celebrations.

3: Walk Across the Steveston Scramble

The “scramble” also known as the diagonal crossing, made famous by Tokyo, is a pedestrian feature that ensures the safety all who cross the street.  Steveston is very small in comparison to Tokyo but has established the pedestrian crossing in place of a 4 way stop because of times like the Canada Day long weekend when large crowds flock to the fishing village.  This alleviates any uncertainty that vehicle traffic might have when modes of travel conflict. The Steveston Scramble has design elements that reflect the maritime character of the village and make it unique amongst many around the world.

4: Play Along the Waterfront to the Britannia Shipyards

Starting at the Fisherman’s Wharf, you can head east on foot or by bike along the waterfront to venture back in time to a once thriving community of canneries, boat yards, residences and stores.  Dating back to 1885, the buildings that line the shoreline tell the stories of multi-ethnic residents and workers at the Britannia Cannery and Britannia Shipyards including, Chinese, European, First Nations Peoples and especially the significant Japanese population that was forcibly removed from this village during WWII. Designated as a National Historic Site in 1992, the permanence allows for access to audio and video exhibit displays year round.

5: Visit the Heritage Post Office

The iconic post office in the heart of Steveston Village is much more than just a post office, it is the Steveston Museum and Visitor Information Centre. The building was built in 1905 and used originally as Steveston’s first bank. Today, you can discover the stories and people who shaped the village by continuing on into the attached Japanese Fishermen’s Benevolent Society building, or looking through the large range of souvenirs, maps, and information at the front counter.

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By: Nathan Andrews

Nathan Andrews is an urban planning professional and personal trainer who was raised on the banks of the Fraser and lives on the slopes of North Vancouver. He is actively engaged in this Urban Region and is often found running and hiking through sites of natural and urban beauty.

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