On a cloudy but dry Saturday afternoon, the sidewalks of old Cloverdale were almost deserted. This village in the city of Surrey, B.C. makes a good starting point for the Fraseropolis.com Urban Villages project: it has potential as a residential and commercial centre, but its future prospects are unclear.
Cloverdale village sits at the junction of provincial highways 10 and 15, providing easy access from much of Surrey and Langley. Its identity dates from the days of the Interurban commuter railway line, which ceased operation in the 1950s. Settlement began in the 1870s, but the vintage architecture appears to date from about 1930. Its “Anytown USA” look attracted the makers of Smallville, a now-defunct television series about the boyhood of the comic-book hero Superman. At the time of this post, the Cloverdale Business Improvement Association still promoted the village as “The Home of Smallville”, although the cameras for the Superman-as-teenager TV series had been gone for some years.
Fraseropolis.com is exploring urban villages as places to live, work and visit. A high-functioning urban village will promote commercial and cultural diversity within the Fraseropolis sprawl. The City of Surrey recognized Cloverdale’s potential to build on its historic character in a 2000 Town Centre Plan. The City has enabled the development of medium-density housing to the east of the village centre, and the main street and side streets offer shops, financial and professional offices and small cafes, with a library and museum close by. (I dined with my co-tourist Nathan Pachal at The Vault restaurant, and recommend it.) The City has also installed public art and plans cosmetic improvements, and is participating directly in a new mixed-use development just west of the main street.
However, the range of services offered in the village is not complete. If you did win a trip to Cloverdale, you would find the closest hotel a kilometre and a half from the main street. Development potential has been undermined by the City’s decision to allow automobile-dependent commercial development both across the highway from the village and further west on Highway 10. Further, the village lacks high-frequency transit service, which limits its drawing power. The regional transportation authority’s long-term plan for the south-of-Fraser zone (to 2040) puts future rail transit at a distance of four kilometres from the village centre, and high-frequency bus service a kilometre and a half away.
[Note, June 15, 2012: On this date, the Civic Surrey blogsite published a comprehensive update on the status of plans for the Cloverdale village.]
(This is post #1 in our Urban Villages series.)