Vancouver city council has approved a rezoning application for Oakridge Centre, which includes plans for 11 residential towers and a civic centre at the West 41st Avenue and Cambie Street site.
The vote came after council heard from more than 100 speakers during a public hearing on the project this week, including 65 people who opposed the plan, and 45 who expressed their support.
Non-Partisan Association councillors George Affleck and Elizabeth Ball and Green councillor Adriane Carr voted against the overall plan, citing concerns voiced by residents in the neighbourhood.
“It’s clear that the people who live in this area do not want this development,” said Carr. “It is too high, it is too dense, it is too tall. No policy that I’ve read justifies this density.”
Mayor Gregor Robertson said the project “really takes a big leap forward for Oakridge”.
“Rather than making incremental changes, it anticipates the need for a dense, complete community in the southern part of Vancouver, where we’ve seen a lot of change since 2007,” he stated.
Vision Vancouver councillor Raymond Louie added a series of amendments to the recommendations, including ensuring that space be set aside in the kitchen of the new community centre for the use of seniors, that staff continue to engage with Vancouver Coastal Health, TransLink and the Vancouver School Board in an effort to ensure that their plans take into account the anticipated population growth from the Oakridge development, and that the city and developer provide a single point of contact to answer questions regarding issues including construction and community amenities.
But Tracey Moir, the chair of Oakridge Langara Area Residents, called the revisions “a tiny drop in the bucket” for the neighbourhood.
“It’s not good enough to say we’ll deal with impacts and implications of this redevelopment in the future,” she told the Straight by phone.
“There are no guarantees in this project that the essential public services such as schools and fire services will be available. Regarding the Canada Line and bus service, council should secure the increased capacity that will be needed to support this miniature city.”
Moir said the development plan contradicts a policy statement for Oakridge Centre approved by city council in 2007. She noted some of the concerns expressed by community members include plans for a rooftop park as part of the redevelopment.
“We’ve had very, very loud comments from the neighbourhood and even other parts of the city saying it’s not a park if it’s up on a rooftop and circled by a whole bunch of mostly strata condo towers,” she stated, adding that some seniors are worried about the accessibility of the space in the event of an emergency.
Louie called the plan “a good addition to our landscape here in the city of Vancouver”.
“This is a significant addition to this area of our city and it is not just for that local community,” he said. “This is a town centre. People will come to this area and I hope they do, because this is a superior example of what I think we should be building in our city at this location.
“It’s not everybody for every neighbourhood,” he added. “Not every neighbourhood can or should ever have this scale of development, and part of the reason why this is a proper location is because we invested $2 billion on a rapid transit line that will bring people here.”
The civic centre planned for the site includes childcare, a new community centre, an expanded library, and a seniors’ centre. The development will also feature 424,260 square feet of office space and over 1.3 million square feet of retail space.
Housing planned for the site includes 290 units of social housing, 290 market rental units, and 2,334 condo units.
The 11 residential towers will range between 19 and 44 storeys, and three buildings between 9 and 13 storeys are also planned as part of the redevelopment.
The first phase of construction is set to begin next year, and is expected to be completed by December 2023, with the rooftop park added by June 2024.