In 2014, a rezoning for Oakridge Centre was approved. At the time, the motion was made to allow Oakridge to expand into a municipal town centre. This was to include 290 units of social housing, 290 market rental units, and 2,334 condo units. The 11 residential towers were to range between 19 and 44 storeys.
Today, city council voted unanimously to approve a recommendation by city staff to scale back the development.
The result is a 20 percent reduction in housing units.
Though the development was heavily contested originally by residents of the neighbourhood, the scaling back is due to problems with construction, according to a staff report.
Staff outlined three problems as to why construction hasn’t fully taken off at the site, citing an aquifer that lies under Oakridge’s parking lot, problems with keeping the shopping centre open during construction, and lease implications, as Hudson's Bay has a legally binding deal in place to stay where it is.
According to staff, the development team—primarily Ivanhoé Cambridge and Westbank—knew about these issues before the original development was approved, but it was only due to “some changing business factors” that they decided a reassessment was necessary.
Vision councillor Geoff Meggs raised concerns about this prior to the vote.
“How will this not be a continuing problem?” Meggs asked. “What confidence can we have that they have resolved this problem?”
And though they knew they were fighting a losing battle, members of Oakridge-Langara Area Residents came to once again protest the development. Tracey Moir, chair of the association, came prepared with a National Post article accusing developers of “trickery”.
The chair of the meeting, Coun. Andrea Reimer, chastised Moir for bashing a third party that wasn't in attendance.