LSU hopes for college expansion opportunity from YMCA sale

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Reported by Bonnie Lee La Madeleine

When the YMCA announced last spring that its Langara facility would be moving to Cambie Street, a member of Langara Students’ Union saw an opportunity for the college.

Space at Langara campus is in high demand, and with more than 22,000 students currently enrolled, it is difficult to find free space to study. Unfortunately, the college’s expansion options are limited. To grow, the college would need to expand upwards, or buy space as it becomes available. Acquiring the YMCA property, if it goes on the market, is a possible solution.

Kelly Walker, manager of communications for the YMCA, said the organization has filed a rezoning application with the City of Vancouver to put the building on the market.

“Proceeds of the sale would support programs at the YMCA,” Walker said.

Expansion hopes could be a reality depending on certain circumstances

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LSU student affairs officer Harsimran Malhi and LSU general manager Desmond Rodenbour. Photo: Bonnie Lee La Madeleine.

After learning about the YMCA’s move, student affairs officer Harsimran Malhi worked with the LSU to explore options for expansions. Malhi said one of these options was housing, and they circulated a petition on campus. The findings were presented to provincial government representatives.

Rodney Porter, communications director for the Ministry of Advanced Education, said that if the conditions are right, then approval of purchase would be given.

“If Langara College and their board of governors has the desire and funding, and the land or building is for sale, then the decision to purchase would be up to the college to manage,” said Porter in an email statement.  “Only the disposal of assets would require provincial government approval.”

Expansion idea may hold complications

Desmond Rodenbour, general manager for the LSU, said the province may support Langara’s expansion goals, but it will not allow the college to add to the provincial debt load.

The LSU is now looking for other ways to expand.

“We are thinking of having a meeting with the mayor’s office to discuss how feasible these two options are,” Malhi said. “Or asking the mayor’s office to let Langara build higher.”

Zoning bylaws currently limit the height of buildings on campus.

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