Park dreams face-off against developments in South Vancouver
On a foggy Sunday morning, Don Larson made his way up the Canada Line’s foot and bike bridge, which spans the Fraser River.
Although the land below on the Vancouver side was hardly visible in the mist, the Marpole resident has a clear idea of what it could look like. Larson believes that it’s a good location for a waterfront park.
With condo towers rising to the north around the intersection of Cambie Street and Southwest Marine Drive, called Marine Landing in the city’s Cambie Corridor Plan, he wants Mayor Gregor Robertson to lead the creation of a new green space.
“He’s Mr. Environmental Leadership in the city, and how can you be putting 3,000 or 4,000 people down here and not providing a proper park for them?” Larson asked. “How can they do that?”
When he met with the Georgia Straight at the site, south of West Kent Avenue South between Cambie Street and Heather streets, on January 26, it was after city council had unanimously approved another development at Marine Landing.
On January 21, council okayed the application by Wesgroup Properties to rezone the northwest corner of the area. The developer plans to build two 31- and 12-storey condo towers. Sitting on a two-storey podium of commercial space, the high-rises will have 368 strata units.
To the east across Cambie Street, cranes are up at the Intracorp S.W. Marine Limited Partnership development. Called MC2, the project involves two condo towers of 31 and 25 storeys on top of podiums of seven and five storeys of commercial and office space. A total of 441 strata units and 110 market rental units will be built there.
East of MC2, Concord Pacific has filed an application for two 21- and 27-storey condo towers at 445 Southwest Marine Drive. The developer wants to build 514 condo units and a separate 6.5-storey mid-rise with 70 rental homes.
At the southeast corner of Marine Landing, PCI Developments has begun construction of its Marine Gateway project, with two residential towers of 26 and 35 storeys and a 14-storey office building rising adjacent to the Canada Line’s Marine Drive Station and the South Vancouver Bus Loop. This one will have 418 condo units.
In the 1980s, Larson successfully lobbied for a waterfront park east of Canada Place by Burrard Inlet. It’s now known as CRAB Park at Portside.
“We need real, actual parks, and there’s very few opportunities to get a park in Vancouver because of real estate,” Larson noted.
He estimates that the properties south of West Kent Avenue South between Cambie and Heather total 6.5 hectares. A 2.5-hectare park, according to Larson, may be good enough.
Larson related that he has written Robertson and members of council about his suggestion for a waterfront park. A draft of a public-realm plan for the Cambie Corridor does not include a park on the bank of the north arm of the Fraser River.
City hall would not make staff available for an interview with the Straight.
Larson has found an ally in conservationist and Fraser River expert Terry Slack. The two have teamed up to ask the city to look at how it can acquire a portion of the properties near the river by using fees paid by developers.
“We think that we can combine the park with habitat restoration for juvenile salmon and sturgeon and oolichan,” Slack told the Straight in a phone interview.
According to Slack, there used to be a marsh there until it was destroyed by industrial activity.
“People could come from the high-rises instead of going downtown to go to Stanley Park,” Slack said.
On January 28, Larson and Slack were scheduled to take Green councillor Adriane Carr, Non-Partisan Association councillor George Affleck, and NPA park commissioner John Coupar on a morning tour of the site.