The Mirabel Airport was built 40 kilometers outside of Montreal and received great fanfare when it opened in 1975. Approximately 97,000 acres of land were expropriated for this airport, and many farmers were displaced for this venture. It was assumed that air traffic would flock to Montreal, and this airport would replace the more centrally located Dorval (now Trudeau) airport. But it was too far, too inconvenient, and the swarms of travellers never arrived. Planes also got more efficient too, not needing any refuelling stop after a transatlantic journey
Today the airport is abandoned, occasionally being used for some movie shoots.The airport terminal, which was carefully mothballed for a decade, took a year to demolish.
Enter Tsawwassen Mills, a 1.2 million square foot shopping mall built on Class 1 agricultural land on Delta’s flood plain, 5 kilometers from the ferry terminal, 35 kilometers from Vancouver, 32 kilometers from Surrey. With 6,000 parking spaces it is branding itself as a destination fashion location and has a pop up trailer that goes to different locations and gives out free stuff. It appeared at the Burrard Transit station which was a little odd, given that there is no rapid transit route for transit users to get to the mall.
The mall’s opening is October 8 with about 160 of the 200 stores being occupied. The second mall, a more locally serving 550,000 square foot outdoor shopping experience will open later. Meanwhile family owned shops in Ladner and Tsawwassen join Price Tags in hoping that personal service, long-term relationships, and knowing their clientele means that they can stay in business.
The Tsawwassen Mills project has a Quebec connection too-the project is owned by Ivanhoe Cambridge and is a real estate subsidiary of the Caisse de depot et placement du Quebec (cdpq.com). It remains to be seen whether this last ode to motordom and consumerism will be the 21st century version of the Mirabel Airport.