A contentious debate over a new community plan for Marpole is about to enter a challenging new phase, as homeowners, renters and businesses remain divided over what the future of the neighbourhood should look like.
Homeowners recently held protests to force the city to extend the consultation period for a new community plan due to concerns about the proposed high level of density. However, the community’s main business group still wants a population boost to benefit local businesses.
“As far as the [Marpole Business Improvement Association] is concerned, we want to see densification to give us the opportunity to grow so that the commercial area will survive,” said Michael Tee, the association’s president.
Local renters may also have a different perspective, according to Vancouver Coun. Andrea Reimer.
Tee said his group, which represents about 250 businesses between 63rd and 72nd avenues on Granville Street, has been lobbying the city for a new community plan since 2004.
Marpole has seen a decline in population for the last 15 years, one of the reasons that prompted businesses to push for a new plan.
“We have an existing community plan that dates back to 1980, and obviously not relevant any longer and hasn’t for some time,” said Claudia Laroye, an administrator for the Marpole association, which will ensure it stays involved in the new planning process.
The area’s renters, who represent 57 per cent of Marpole, haven’t been that vocal in the consultations or in the extensive media coverage of homeowner protests so far.
Reimer said the new round of talks will provide space for Marpole residents to talk to each other.
“Marpole has these two radically different communities: single-family home owners sitting on very valuable property, even by Vancouver standards, and a greater number of renters living to the south of the community. The two populations don’t seem to know of each other at all.”
However, the two key spokespeople from the Marpole Coalition Group say they believe most people support their view that city planners packed too much new density into the draft plan for the area.
Mike Burdick and Albert Leung say their group will focus on issues that residents are most concerned about:
- the potential for increased traffic with any new density
- new housing that is not really any more affordable than existing housing
- a lack of new community services to match the increase in population
- the height of proposed new townhouses
Burdick said, for the moment, the group’s focus is on working with city staff to create an improved plan.
“We made it very clear that they’re not the enemy, and they made it clear that we’re not the enemy. We just wanna go forward and get the best possible plan for everyone,” said Burdick.