REEF Technology is here to create spaces where people can connect with the people, business, services and experiences that make a locality thrive.
REEF Technology—through its recent acquisition of Impark—has come to Vancouver and with it, a world of possibilities. The company transforms urban spaces into neighbourhood hubs that connect people to locally curated goods, services, and experiences—an ambitious goal for Greater Vancouver, but something with the potential to bring the city together in very important ways.
The revelation that 50 to 60 percent of urban real estate is used for car parking spaces propelled REEF Technology to consider alternative uses for all of this dormant space. Its mission? To redesign and transform the humble parking lot into a dynamic community hub and bring the world closer to your block.
But in relative terms, what would “neighbourhood hubs” look like in Vancouver, and just what effect would they have on day-to-day life? BC Business wanted to find out, so we spoke with Sophia Cote, REEF’s head of public affairs for Canada, to find out.
BCB: In your own words, how would you describe your company's scope and mission today?
SC: REEF Technology is the largest proximity operator in North America, and we’re creating an ecosystem that’s changing the lives of locals and businesses alike. While we have a major presence in Metro Vancouver in the form of parking operations, we believe a parking lot should be more than a place to store your car. Imagine a hub for the community, connecting people to the businesses and services that keep us all moving forward. Ultimately, REEF’s vision is to completely transform what neighbourhoods, residents and businesses in Metro Vancouver can expect from conventional parking real estate. Together, we can leverage the power of proximity to keep our communities moving forward in a sustainable and thoughtful way.
BCB: What can your vision bring to Metro Vancouver economically, socially and environmentally that no other company can bring?
SC: While still managing parking lots, REEF is now looking at infrastructure for neighbourhood kitchens, healthcare clinics, charging infrastructure and battery storage, logistics and last-mile delivery, and even brick and mortar retail and experiential customer spaces. All of this can come to life on our existing parking structures and spaces. With the surge in the sharing and on-demand economy, we see the potential to future-proof parking structures, while simultaneously addressing our cities’ challenges: extreme congestion and the ensuing pollution, high costs for businesses to expand, and residents’ growing need for quick delivery of goods and services.
BCB: What does it mean to have a 15-minute city? Explain how your project(s) can bring neighbourhoods together in tangible terms.
SC: The 15-minute city is an approach to urban design that aims to improve quality of life by creating cities where everything residents need can be reached within 15 minutes by foot, bike or public transit. This concept puts an emphasis on careful planning at the neighbourhood level, giving each community the features it needs to support a full life—including local jobs, food, recreation, green space, housing, medical offices, small businesses and more. Most importantly, it’s a full life that doesn’t require a car. By converting parking spaces into neighbourhood hubs, we are helping bring this vision to life.
BCB: What are some key areas of opportunity for REEF in Metro Vancouver? How will capitalizing on those opportunities provide long-term solutions for the city?
SC: Given the City of Vancouver’s Climate Action Goals and other regional municipalities prioritizing emissions reductions, REEF really sees an opportunity to provide solutions to congestion. Our parking lots should also be spaces for bike and scooter rental stations, electric vehicle charging, battery storage, rideshare buffering areas and last mile e-delivery. We can help create last-block mobility, so residents don’t have to rely on a vehicle to get around. By reimagining these parking lots, we will also be creating economic opportunities and jobs across the region, something that will be vital as we try and come out of the economic downturn resulting from the pandemic.
BCB: How can businesses learn more, connect with you, or discuss potential partnerships?
SC: REEF in its current identity is new to Vancouver, and our vision for creating the 15-minute city is just getting started. As REEF begins to transform parking lots in and around Metro Vancouver, we want to hear from you on what you think makes the most sense for your neighbourhoods, residents and businesses. As someone who was born and raised in Vancouver, I’m excited to see what potential our city has to prepare for a different future. You can reach out to me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you want to discuss potential opportunities.
For more information on REEF’s vision, watch our More than a Lot video