Langara College rezoning application unanimously approved by the city

Five new campus buildings would house projected student enrolment increase


By Alaina Saint Amour

Vancouver city council on March 11 unanimously passed an application to increase density on the Langara College campus.

The development plan intends to feature five new buildings across the campus and is expected to take place over a 25-year period. The large-scale redevelopment is designed to meet an increasing number of students.

“Langara College has recently experienced a period of rapid and unprecedented student growth that has put a strain on its existing physical resources,” rezoning planner Tiffany Rougeau said at the public hearing on March 11.

The master plan for Langara’s redevelopment will involve larger buildings with more capacity, including a maximum height of six storeys for three of the buildings.

“[The plan] allows the flexibility for the college over the next 25 years as things change at the college to decide what their priorities are and what goes into certain buildings,” said Wendy Lannard, lead consultant for the facilities master plan.

Neighbours not thrilled

Local resident Tony Ditmars, who lives close to the Ontario Street bike route, is worried that more traffic will be routed to residential areas with the redevelopment. He opposed the application during the public hearing.

“I don’t think that the plans to curb this traffic are firm enough. I’ve lived at my address for 35 years through a number of college expansions. And every time there’s an open house, the planners suggest that there will be efforts to curb the traffic out of this entrance. But nothing ever changes,” Ditmars told the councillors.

Helen Nichols lives across from the college on Ontario Street. Nichols is worried about parking.

“Parking when students return is challenging, as many people accessing the college park in resident-only zones,” Nichols said at the public hearing. “This problem will be intensified.”

Building designs and funding pending

Rezoning sketches show where the buildings will go, but not what they will look like. Architects will work with planners in the future to design the sites and when this begins, Langara intends to consult staff, students and residents on what they want to see.

“Langara has not secured funding for this project yet and when it does, an architect will be hired and programming for the building will be done. Programming involves consultation with the college community on what goes into the building,” Lannard said in an email statement.

Additionally, there are plans to construct an Indigenous meeting house on the northeast corner of the campus, with unspecified Indigenous landscaping surrounding it.

“Our Indigenous students come from many different places and traditions, and maintain cultural connections through ceremony and ritual; Indigenous architecture, art, and landscape would meaningfully express their Indigeneity on Langara’s campus,” said Shyanne Boudreau, Indigenous education and services coordinator in an email statement.

Lannard said Langara has identified in its own strategic plan that it wants to develop a replacement for the A Building first, the oldest and largest building on the campus. The A Building replacement will be on the east side of campus which is currently a parking lot.

“At this point there is no building designed, so we don’t have a timeframe,” Lannard said.

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