05/23/2013 10:58 EDT | Updated 07/23/2013 05:12 EDT

New West parkade a blight on revitalized waterfront

There's a growing movement in New Westminster, B.C., to tear down a parkade that stretches across the city's waterfront.

The raised structure was built in the late 1950s to combat the trend of shoppers driving to bigger malls in the suburbs. It now sits half empty, and residents complain it blocks access to the revitalized waterfront.

"Anyone who's seen it [knows] it's massive,” said New Westminster NewsLeader editor Chris Bryan. “If you go across on the bridge on the SkyTrain you see that, and it really sort of swallows up the whole landscape of the waterfront for New West.”

Bryan recently wrote a column pressing city council to knock down at least half of the four-block structure.

“People have long looked at it as an impediment to progress in the city,” Bryan said.

“Specifically, the city has a downtown improvement plan that it put together saying we really need to get knitted back together with the river, how are we going to do that? And the parkade is pretty much the largest stumbling block, in my opinion.”

Mayor Wayne Wright says the parkade will remain for at least two more years while a comprehensive downtown improvement plan is put into place.

“It's one piece of a big puzzle, but it's something that we're working on now.”

Wright says the city has to make sure there is ample affordable parking elsewhere before tearing the parkade down.

City staff are preparing a downtown revitalization plan, which is expected to be released to council next month.