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Exciting Changes Coming to Riverdrive Mall in Peace River

Interview with Dharmasena Yakandawela, 59, and Shirani Yakandawela, 55, New Owners of Riverdrive Mall in Peace River

Interview & Mall Photography by Nathan & Chelsey Friedt, Lemon Social

Tell us about yourself and your background?

Dharmasena: I am originally from Sri Lanka. I was a judge, and my wife, Shirani, was a lawyer. We moved to Canada with our children, then seven and four, in 2006.

When we arrived, I was informed my Sri Lankan education as a judge was not recognized in Canada. I began as a sales associate at 7-Eleven. Soon after, I enrolled at the University of British Columbia to become an Immigration Consultant.

Currently, I have my own law practice in Vancouver, which focuses on immigration law.

Tell us how you came to own Riverdrive Mall.

We have been exploring a variety of investment options in Canada. In 2017, my wife and I decided to try something new. We invested in commercial property in both Prince George and Lloydminster.

This past year, I came to Peace River and met with local realtor Layne Gardner to purchase the mall.

What changes do you have planned for the mall?

There will be a new bakery coming in 2023. I see the mall as a centre for the community to gather.

With this in mind, I would like the community to know that I will be offering the concourse to be rented for community events at no cost.

This may include job fairs, community celebrations, fairs, etc. All would be welcome to apply for the free rental.

What are your long-term goals for the mall?

We have been doing a lot of research and working hard to bring in more businesses. I have many connections to human resources, and I look forward to helping potential businesses hire foreign workers.

I’ve had conversations with the Peace River Chamber of Commerce, Peace River MLA Dan Williams, and I will be in contact with the Minister of Labour and Social Development in Alberta.

Our goal is to attract business development to the region. The community can expect many more changes down the road for Riverdrive Mall.

Is there anything you would like to add?

There are currently two rental spaces available. Community members wanting to find out more information about operating their business out of the mall or to apply for renting the concourse for community events can contact Mall Manager Peter Neufeld at The Little Mexican Store.

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