Did a part of you wonder whether the mega malls proposed by the Tsawwassen First Nation would ever become a reality?
The malls are so large, and so unlike anything else in South Delta's commercial sectors, that the idea of building almost two million square feet of retail space in these parts seemed more than a little surreal. Throw in the fact not much has happened, at least not publicly, since plans for the malls were unveiled about a year-and-a-half ago and it wasn't a stretch to question whether the project would ever amount to anything more than an artist's rendering.
That doubt had nothing to do with the TFN or its development partners, but was a natural reaction to any undertaking of that magnitude, particularly one that's proposed for an area not known for its commercial offerings.
It's one thing to conceive the idea, but it's quite another to bring it to fruition, what with constantly changing market conditions and investors that can get cold feet, can't come up with the necessary capital or find other priorities for their money.
Again, that's not meant as a slight to any of the parties in the mall deals, it's just that while all involved were doing their due diligence behind closed doors, it gave those of us on the outside time for our minds to race. It's been a while and we haven't heard anything, so do you think the plans are still on track?
The answer from the TFN has been an unequivocal "yes" when posed with that question, but until the announcement this week that site preparation work is beginning, there wasn't any tangible evidence the malls were anything more than a paper concept.
It should be noted that relocating drainage channels and constructing a temporary road are a long way from opening the doors to a pair of mega malls, so some site prep isn't going to put all doubts to rest. However, it appears after 18 months the TFN and its partners, Ivanhoe Cambridge and the Property Development Group, are still on track for the previously announced 2015 opening.
Should a filling program be followed by the start of construction next year, and those are two more hurdles the project must still clear, then it would take the exceedingly cynical not to come to the conclusion the mega malls will soon be a fixture on the South Delta landscape.
With that said, they still have a long way to go, but we're a year-and-a-half in and it would be difficult to suggest the developers have given us any reason to doubt.