Marpole residents want to take part in planning any future developments in South Vancouver.
They formed a new residents group in June and they want to be included in decision-making about Marpole.
“Our number one goal is to seek and secure community-wide planning for Marpole,” said Jo-Anne Pringle, co-founder and lead co-ordinator of Marpole Area Residents’ Alliance.
Pringle said the alliance supports development, but development should not occur until a community plan is in place.
The community plan for Marpole is more than 30 years old. It was last completed in October 1979.
The alliance was formed by a small group of concerned residents. They met at an Open House about the proposed Marine Gateway development.
The scale of the plan concerned residents enough that they decided to form a residents group to participate in community planning in Marpole.
The Marpole Safeway rezoning application is one of the many proposed development projects.
Listening to the public
The alliance hosted a neighbourhood meeting on June 28. More than 100 residents and 5 city councillors attended. Alliance members asked councillors to help bring true consultation to Marpole, specifically suggesting information workshops.
Councillor Raymond Louie submitted a motion at a council meeting on July 6. The motion called for two public events for two separate developments including of the local Safeway supermarket.
The Safeway site at 70th Avenue and Granville Street is the only major grocery store in the neighbourhood, making it a hub of activity.
The purpose of the public events was “to ensure the public has an improved opportunity to understand and comment on these significant proposals in their community.”
After the motion passed, a public information session about the Marpole Safeway rezoning application was held on Sept. 20. Residents spoke up during the question period and asked for a new community plan.
An ‘unusual and commendable’ process
Gudrun Langolf, president of the Marpole Oakridge Area Council Society, said the community consultation was “unusual and commendable”.
She explained that usually when a developer wants to rezone a piece of land, they apply directly to the City of Vancouver. They then send official notification to property owners in adjacent areas. Those who rent or lease usually don’t receive notification aside from the big sign at the front of the property.
“What is startling and commendable is that [this time] they sent notifications to all [the] V6P households,” said Langolf. Households in the Marpole region have postal codes that begin with V6P.
“Every household got one in their letterbox. Most people who are living in these households are renting.”
The notification included an invitation to the public information sessions.
Traffic density concerns
Residents at the session said they were worried that the new density would also increase traffic density.
The published comments also mentioned this issue, stating “serious concerns about congestion of both traffic and people” and “we are already gridlock with traffic”.
Granville Street feeds onto the Arthur Laing Bridge, a major route to Richmond and to YVR Airport. Commuter traffic flow was already a concern over 30 years ago according to the 1979 Community Plan for Marpole.
Pringle wants comprehensive traffic studies for the area to aid community planning.
Attracting new business
Claudia Laroye, Executive Director of the Marpole Business Association, said the association has submitted a letter to City Council to ask for allocation of planning resources.
“Irrespective of that, we support the rezoning application of the Safeway no matter what,” said Laroye. “We can’t shut the door on change.”
Laroye said the development may be a catalyst for bringing new kinds of businesses in the area.
Gregory Henriquez, the architect for the Marpole Safeway project, said they have been listening to residents over the last few months, but the community planning process is on a separate stream from what the developers are doing.
Henriquez said the original plan for the project, which included towers of up to 24 storeys, will be “significantly revised”. The height of the original proposed towers will be lowered considerably.
“We’re committed to making meaningful changes,” said Henriquez.
Langolf said she has heard opinions from residents that range from two extremes. One resident wants to shut down the city from further development, and another resident from Hong Kong thinks the more high-rises the better.
“[We want to] make sure the community is consulted and not insulted,” said Langolf.