Christina Taulu has lived in Renfrew-Collingwood on the East Side of Vancouver for almost 50 years. As an active community member, the energetic grandmother has played a part in many significant changes in her neighbourhood.
She chaired a citizens’ committee that contributed to the planning for the area around the Joyce-Collingwood SkyTrain station, a process that gave birth to Collingwood Village.
Started in the 1990s, the 11-hectare Collingwood Village was completed in 2006. Comprising 16 condo and rental buildings, with heights ranging from four to 26 storeys, it is an example of transit-oriented development.
The Collingwood Community Policing Centre, where Taulu has been executive director since it opened, was one of the community amenities produced by the project.
It wasn’t going to be the last major residential expansion in the area. In 2011, city council approved a rezoning application by Wall Financial Corporation for lands east of Collingwood Village.
Taulu supported the developer’s application when it was heard by council. Construction is under way for the Wall Centre Central Park project, which consists of three condo towers of 28, 29, and 30 storeys on Boundary Road, Vanness Avenue, and Ormidale Street. In return, the community will get 33,000 square feet of building space in the development for various public uses.
Two years ago, Taulu told the Georgia Straight that her community has been largely supportive of growth because residents feel they have been properly consulted. In a new interview, Taulu said she wants to make sure that the neighbourhood will continue to have a meaningful say about what happens next in the community.
The City of Vancouver is reviewing land uses in the two blocks around the Joyce-Collingwood SkyTrain station and bus loop. City planners have laid out three potential options for towers at the four corners of the transit hub. One provides for towers of 17 to 26 storeys at Joyce Street only. The second includes towers of 30 storeys, and lower ones along Vanness Avenue and the east side of Joyce Street. The third contemplates high-rises of up to 35 storeys.
According to Taulu, the Joyce-Collingwood area has one of the highest densities in the city, and there’s room for some more. “It’s not like we haven’t done it before,” Taulu told the Straight by phone on Tuesday (November 3).
However, Taulu claimed that the city is undertaking a “piecemeal” review that doesn’t take into account how new development will impact traffic in the larger Renfrew-Collingwood neighbourhood. “They don’t seem to be looking at that,” she said.
Last year, Westbank Projects Corp. bought a number of lots at the corner of Joyce and Vanness north of the SkyTrain station for almost $10 million. The developer is proposing to build a 29-storey tower with 236 condo units and commercial spaces on these assembled properties.
The Urban Design Panel, which advises the city on major development projects, will hold a workshop about ideas for the station area on Wednesday (November 4).