Monday, July 19, 2021

Latest element of Prince Rupert vision planning out for Bids as Gateway project comes into focus

The corner of Third And McBride could look very different
by the summer of 2023 with the city looking for developers
to show interest in a major visioning project for the downtown area

One of the many elements of a new look for the downtown core has been launched, with the City of Prince Rupert issuing a Request for Proposals  last week for what is to be known as the downtown 'Gateway' area, with the corner of McBride Street and Third Avenue West the focus for development.

The revitalization plan is outlined in a presentation on the BC Bid website, which notes how the development of the Gateway project will serve as a catalyst for the City Centre and establish a quality gateway into the City Centre.

The two main properties in the specified area are owned by Northern Savings Credit Union and M and M Ventures Ltd, while the two other elements include  the roadway of Third Avenue West and the lane behind the Credit Union properties.

Area map of proposed development area fro the
City of Prince Rupert BC Bid package

The documentation outlines the objectives of the City and Northern Savings as clients, with Northern Savings requiring 15,000 to 20,000 square feet for a new Credit union brand and the city requiring some 10,000 square fee of space for civic institutional use.

The information synopsis also notes how the  'client' will actively engage with the Port of Prince Rupert and other potential commercial and institutional occupants of the Gateway project to assist in marketing and disposition of the project.

One key element of the prospectus is the city's wish to develop 3rd Avenue adjacent the development lands as a pedestrian mall with covered areas, public amenities such as landscaping, seating and public art, to be known as "Pedestrian Mall Work" 

Though it's noted that is not something  that is part of the current contract opportunity but something the city is reserving an option on towards a separate contract.

The Scope of Development for the Gateway Project would seen those with an interest purchase the parcels of land from their respective owners and then develop the concept plan for the new development as well as to post a performance bond with the the City to guarantee performance.

The deadline to submit interest for the RFP is September 1st.

Rob Buchan, from the city's contract planning firm iPlan is the contact point for the RFP; as they are located on Vancouver Island, the address to seek further information is that of an office in Sannichton.

The Schedule towards potential development would see a proponent selected by September 14th, with the preparation and signing of a contract set for September 21st.

The payment by Developer to the owners of the parcels of land would be required by February 28th of 2022, with construction to start by June 2022.

Building and pedestrian mall completion would be expected by June 2023.

The Gateway proposal was one of the many redevelopment themes that were explored as part of the Vision 2030 planning, with its genesis coming well before that December 2019 presentation event at the Lester Centre.

You can review the themes from that vision document from the Redesign Rupert online portal

Prince Rupert 2030 The Vision A vibrant City Hosting a Vibrant Port

The Gateway element would serve as the entry point to the city's Upper Town/Downtown District, with the city's new RCMP detachment seemingly set to serve as one corner of the revisioned downtown area once that facility is constructed.

Some of the other elements that were outlined that night in 2019 are currently at different levels of development, ranging from the Seal Cove recreation area nearing completion to the Rueprt's Landing proposal and redevelopment of the old CN/VIA station on the waterfront which are still in the pre planning stages.

You can catch up on some of the work to date on those plans from our project tracker page.

The first opportunity for Mayor and Council to offer up some thoughts on the latest element of the Vision plan comes up next Monday, when they host their only Public Council session for the month as part of their July 26th meeting.

You can review the full package on the Gateway project from the BC Bid website.

More notes on the city's ambitions for redevelopment can be explored from our ReDesign Rupert archive.

Further themes on City Council discussions are available from our archive page here.


  1. There should be no I repeat no cuty monies spent on development. This is the job of developers not taxpayer funds.

    We currently have not been allowed to tear down a building for going on 4 years. There are roadways in the city the city has excavated to repair utilities done a temporary patch, backfilled and paved over. Get a good program started on the basics the city requires. Fixing utilities should be a priority. Enough of these designer dreams through rose colored glasses. Take the glasses off have a look at some of the areas of town that are in desperate need of attention.

    1. youve contradicted yourslef within only a few sentences.

      this is the first entrypoint to our town for like 80000 tourists a year. its the first thing you see driving out of town. its the connection point between downtown and cow bay. its got the plywood boarded up DQ building, vacant lots, sunken holes, and alder weeds. this is THE area of town in desperate need of attention

      nice try on the critiscism though

  2. Northern Savings needs to play a larger role in the development of housing in our community. If they partner with the right developer, they could provide financial assistance to the developer, while investing in affordable units above their new branch.
    As for the commercial side of the development, use ocean containers to create a small open air market for local artisans (small business financing services offered by Northern Savings), include a carving shed and a performance space for buskers. (events sponsored again by Northern Savings).
    Maybe Northern Savings and M&M Ventures should respond to this RFP together?

  3. What exactly is happening here? What is the City spending on this? Is M&M Ventures involved in this redevelopment? What is the conceptual look?

    1. The city has tasked Iplan to submit an RFP to develop lots owned by M & M and Northern Savings.

      Iplan is a consultant from Sannichton. They are our city planners at the moment. We as tax payers, shelled out $164 grand for their services last year.

      Basically, our city planner (Iplan) has created a bid to attract development interest for the lots in question.

      Those lots are currently owned by Northern Savings, and M&M.

      The want interested developers to;
      - buy the lots from Northern Savings & M & M (the respective lot owners)
      - Arrange their own project financing
      - Design, gain all permits, build, and market redeveloped space
      - Provide first right of refusal to the City and Northern Savings for redeveloped space
      - Furnish a performance bond to the city for certain aspects of this project

    2. What happens if Northern Savings and M&M do not want to sell or cannot reach acceptable terms with the developer? Does the city expropriate and then sell to the developer? Or is the city quite sure that Northern Savings and M&M want to sell from having talked to them and reached some kind of back room deal or understanding?

      It sounds like there needs to be greater transparency about any discussions that the city has had with Northern Savings and M&M. It's hard to believe that the city has reached this point without having talked to Northern Savings and M&M and received some assurances.

      Is this only about developing an entry point to revive downtown, or is it also about the city spending public funds to create a real estate opportunity for two private land owners?

    3. Great question, according to BC Assessment. The current assessed value for Northern Savings and M & M properties sits at $2.8 million.

      The sellers will be looking for a premium, especially if an out of town developer is in play.

      Add in the fact that the city wants the deal done by Feb 28th 2022 with a construction start date of June 2022.

      Good luck with that.

  4. With that time pressure and the heightened expectations created by Brain and Mirau through their social media feeds it may be the developer who ends up getting the better deal. It's not like the city and Northern Savings are playing hard to get.