Anyone who has ever taken on a major home renovation knows that life can get turned upside-down. But despite all the mess and inconvenience, the promise of a more beautiful living space makes it all worthwhile. For Ladner Village businesses, the Delta Street Roadway Revitalization project, part of Delta’s Neighbourhood Road Improvements Plan, has been a story of short term pain for long term gain. With the dust settled and the project now complete, the village core’s charming new look offers the community and visitors alike something truly fantastic to discover.
Key goals of the $6 million undertaking to improve Delta Street, from 48 Avenue to Chisholm Street, included implementing much-needed infrastructure updates such as water main replacement, new pavement and improved irrigation. Aesthetic design elements and practical upgrades included bicycle racks, park benches, decorative lampposts with LED lighting, newly landscaped areas, public washrooms, water fountains and more.
The village has transformed to become more pedestrian-friendly. “Beautiful, wider and safer sidewalks are a great improvement,” notes The Quilted Bear owner Carol Tario-Bobick. Before the upgrade, bumps and roots pushing walkway surfaces created hazards, particularly for the elderly or parents pushing strollers. A new root barrier system is now in place to prevent future sidewalk damage from the newly planted trees. The owner also appreciates the additional parking stalls. “The reality is that many customers do have to drive to the village,” she adds. Because there are few specialized quilting stores, many make the drive from across the Lower Mainland to shop her wide range of high-quality sewing supplies, including cottons, fabrics, threads, and more. After 16 years, the store has established a loyal clientele. Many parents first discover The Quilted Bear buying sewing materials for a child’s school program, then return to take quilting workshops, classes, or sign up for their popular annual Harrison Hot Springs Quilting Retreat.
“The project has brought the local business community together to support each other through all the changes,” notes Tario-Bobick, who took over ownership three years ago, and whose professional background includes specialized early childhood education as well as bookkeeping for their family business. “We’ve met other business owners, kept our sense of humour, and found ways to support each other.” Despite the upheaval and challenges, kudos go to the planning, engineering and street crews, as well as the Corporation of Delta for their consultative and positive approach, keeping Ladner businesses well informed on all phases of the project. A Delta Street on-site information area was set up where merchants could ask questions or get help. Engineering and construction teams were mindful of important community events such as Ladner Village Market and the Quilt Walk & Car Show, and worked hard to ensure that major walkways were ready in time for pedestrian traffic.
SHOP LOCAL LADNER
An estimated $0.84 from every dollar spent locally ends up back in the local economy. The Ladner Business Association’s “Discover Ladner” initiative and social media campaign (#discover Ladner and @discoverladner), as well as the 2016 Dig It! Campaign have raised awareness of the importance of supporting local businesses, which, in turn, supports the whole community. By promoting events, tourist activities, and the area’s natural beauty, the LBA and merchants encourage visitors and help locals discover their community. The recent “Let’s Light Up Ladner Village” Go Fund Me campaign, an LBA initiative with support from the Corporation of Delta, aims to light up the downtown trees from dawn to dusk at least five months of the year, creating a magical, welcoming feel.
Merchants on 48th Avenue, who also weathered major street improvements in 2008, can relate to the challenges that their business neighbours faced. Over the past year, they have been instrumental in giving insight and sharing practical ideas to keep businesses thriving. During their own sidewalk construction, 48 Avenue merchants worked collaboratively, providing alternative exits and entrances for neighbouring businesses, and organized cross-promotional advertising opportunities such as weekly gift draws and creative ads in local newspapers.
SOUTH COAST CASUALS
“We were happy to pass on our strategies to Delta Street merchants who took on similar initiatives,” explains South Coast Casuals owner Tracey McKnight, who co-owns the business with her husband Bill and their daughter, Jill. Their 3,400 sq. ft. independent and well-established women’s clothing store, celebrating 22 years in business, attracts many clients from outside areas who on discovering their store make a point to return for their exceptional one-on-one service and unique clothing finds. Best-selling Canadian lines include Joseph Ribkoff, FDJ French Dressing, Simpli, Parkhurst Knitwear and Tribal Sportswear. This fall, Yest, Liverpool and Soya Concept promise to be popular again with clientele. “We shop the world but we still carry over 30% made in Canada,” McKnight adds.
The husband, wife and daughter team, who have extensive experience in all facets of the clothing industry, chose Ladner because it offered a storefront location and a charming village atmosphere. They are pleased to see the wider, safer sidewalks, and benches that create a calming effect, inviting people to slow down and say ‘hello’ to neighbours. Enhancements to the village core help all merchants in the area because visitors stay longer and explore more. People love to have a destination. “Whether you’re living in the area or just visiting, Ladner Village has become a village-style destination with high quality businesses and retailers who are proud of their involvement in the community, and who have all worked very hard to create a place that people want to return to for the ambience, the customer service, the extensive selection of product and the genuine welcoming feeling that each business offers.”
CAFE DE GOURMET
For business partners Tracy Ellis and Sheree Karsgaard who have owned and operated the award-winning and popular Café de Gourmet Delights & Catering for the past 18 years, enhancements to the village core will undoubtedly draw more customers to the area and ultimately to their doorstep in search of a great homemade meal or a coffee break. “We hope that Delta’s revitalization to improve street appeal will ultimately attract more consumers to the downtown Ladner core, meaning more visitors to local businesses.” Free, ample parking time and more parking spaces will encourage everyone to linger a little longer.
Like other merchants, the business partners have a long history in Delta. After initially meeting as employees of the former owners, the pair pooled their resources to purchase the business and renamed the café. “We are not a ‘fast food franchise,” they note. “We don’t do conventional bacon and eggs or hamburgers or fries.” Instead, the pair pride themselves on their freshly made salads, quiches, sandwiches and baked goods. Café de Gourmet is proud to be consistently recognized as top caterer in the South Delta area for every year they’ve been in business, in the coveted Delta Optimist Readers’ Choice and Delta Chamber of Commerce’s Hats Off To Excellence awards. “The secret of our success comes down to fresh food, friendly service and lots of hard work.” Most customers are local, but many come from across the Lower Mainland, remembering the great experience the café offers.
This Christmas season, local merchants warmly welcome locals and visitors to come and discover the charms of Ladner Village. Stay a while, and enjoy extended shopping hours in December under the twinkling of festive lights. To learn more about the Delta Street Roadway Revitalization, visit Delta.ca