Kids’ sunlight trumps tower height limits

Tracy Beshara standing outside Marpole Oakridge Family Place.
Tracy Beshara standing outside Marpole Oakridge Family Place. Photo by Lukasz Jonca

A new tower coming to the Cambie corridor has been exempted from city height restrictions so that children playing at a next-door daycare can enjoy more sunshine.

Wesgroup Properties was given the green light to build a $2-million childcare facility and community place, as well as two residential towers at Marine Drive and Cambie Street.

One of those towers is a 12-storey residential building that will be located at Marine Drive and Lord Street.  This violates the six-storey height limit outlined in the Cambie Corridor Plan.

A wider tower would cast more shadow

In keeping with city regulations, the developer’s initial proposal called for a wider, six-storey tower. But concerns were raised about the shadowing that it would cast on the daycare.

The City of Vancouver’s design guidelines state that sunlight must penetrate outdoor play areas for at least three hours per day during optimal playing times, such as recess and after school.

To reduce shadowing but maintain the same density, the city’s urban design panel endorsed a modification to make the tower narrower and taller.

“This is a spectacular solution for a daycare that is so much needed in that area,” said Councillor Elizabeth Ball at the Jan. 21 public hearing.

Community organizers, councillors pleased with plan

Many community organizers were pleased that there would be 37 new childcare spaces. Janet Fraser from Marpole Matters said this would create a hub for families with young children.

“I thank the City staff and development team for their work with our community to date and urge them [to] strive for a site we can all be proud of,” reads an excerpt of Fraser’s letter to city council.

Tracy Beshara, executive director of Marpole Oakridge Family Place, said density in Vancouver is inevitable.

“To work with the city instead of working against the city and fighting it is the most positive thing you can do,” Beshara said.

At the public hearing, Mayor Gregor Robertson praised the level of cooperation. “It’s great to see some integration in the design work at Marine and Cambie.”

“All the different proponents there – architects, designers and developers – have had quite a collaborative approach to this so that we end up with a new neighbourhood there that is striking on the edge of the city.”

The development will be built on the northwest corner of Cambie Street and Marine Drive, close to Sir Wilfrid Laurier Annex Elementary School and Ash Park.

 Reported by Lukasz Jonca

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