Oakridge residents voice frustration

An Oakridge-Langara resident hangs her head in frustration at a community forum hosted by the NPA on Jan. 29. Photo by Mike Hodder.
An Oakridge-Langara resident hangs her head in frustration at a community forum hosted by the NPA on Jan. 29. Photo by Mike Hodder.

Increased density and lack of consultation were the major concerns of frustrated Oakridge-Langara residents who spoke at a community forum hosted by the Non-Partisan Association on Jan. 29.

Many expressed extreme frustration over a rezoning proposal in the area that would see the construction of 13 towers up to 45 storeys high.

Overall, the redevelopment would double the size of the mall and create more than 2,900 residential units.

Can the Canada Line accommodate increased ridership?

Proximity to the Canada Line makes the Oakridge area prime real estate for large-scale redevelopment.

Olivia Yarmoluk, who has lived in the area for 28 years, said though she is not opposed to development there isn’t enough room in her neighbourhood for a second downtown.

“Density, a 45-storey tower, these are the things I don’t like,” Yarmoluk said. “That train isn’t made for another 30,000 people.”

Whether or not the Canada Line can sustain a significant increase in volume was a major concern at the meeting.

Vision Vancouver Councillor Geoff Meggs said transit congestion on the Canada Line is an easy fix.

“I can understand that the platforms are too short and so on, but they could double the frequency of trains on the Canada Line without any difficulties just by buying more cars. “ Meggs said.

“It’s a computer driven system with very high tolerances and it’s possible to make that really, really efficient.”

TransLink is now studying the Canada Line’s capacity to handle this type of increase in traffic.

Lack of consultation from the City

But many residents said they aren’t prepared for the other impacts of density.

Of the roughly 50 people in attendance, the consensus was that greater density would bring increased crime, traffic and property taxes, something they said the city doesn’t want to hear.

Two open houses were held to discuss the proposal on Oct. 3and 4, 2013 but many at the forum felt there hasn’t been enough effort to include the public in the development process.

“There is room for community consultation, and we don’t want to be spoon-fed by somebody else, particularly big money,” said local business owner William O’Brien.

The Oakridge forum is part of a series of neighbourhood- and issue-based community consultations being put on by the NPA. In the gear up to the November 2014 municipal elections, the NPA has been campaigning with the promise to listen to local concerns.

The first policy forum took place in Kitsilano on Dec. 11, 2013 and covered topics such as development and small business.  The next forum is scheduled for Feb. 9 in the Chinatown and Downtown Eastside neighbourhood.

Reported by Mike Hodder

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