Vancouver property development concerns on Langara’s doorstep

Violet and Edward Smith have lived at 255 West 49th Avenue since the 1960s. Photo: Jeremy Sally

Langara students walking to and from the Canada Line station may have noticed the numerous for sale signs along the way.

Plans are in motion for a four floor mixed commercial and residential development to the east of the Canada Line station on 49th Avenue.

These listings are in anticipation of a project that is part of the Cambie Corridor Planning Program, a city initiative to densify Cambie St. and its major intersections.

Residents worry about a loss of character

But many of Langara’s neighbours are upset by the city’s plans.

“They’re spoiling the looks of the city with all these crummy looking condos,” said life-long Vancouver resident Violet Smith. “It’s growing too fast.”

Smith, 89, feels that more development will cause the neighbourhood to lose its character. “Cambie Street used to be so beautiful.”

Smith’s next-door neighbour, Valentine Yersian, feels the same way

“I’m not happy about the Cambie plan. I like the city how it is,” said Yersian. “Beautiful, old houses. I don’t know why they want to bring more people to this street and make it busier.”

Both women live on the 200-block of West 49th Avenue, opposite the YMCA. On each end of the block, ‘for sale’ signs are hung in front of houses.

Neither plans to sell, despite realtors knocking on their doors.

“I’m not going anywhere,” said Smith. “At my age, I can’t move out. Where in this city would I be able to find another house like this that I could pay for?”

Many residents say the unsold houses across from the Langara YMCA are being listed at too high a price. Photo: Jeremy Sally

Realtors making wild promises

Yersian has been approached by several real estate agents. Each has made various projections of what her house is worth; mostly from $1.5 to $1.8 million. But there was one exception.

“Realtor Michelle Yu, she told me things that are not real,” laughs Yersian. “Who is going to buy this house for $3 million?”

Yersian said her property was assessed at about $1.2 million.

Yu is listing four homes on the 200-block.  None have sold as yet.

M. Narwal lives a block west. He believes the houses haven’t sold due to the asking price. “One house is asking $1.8 million. It’s too much.”

Unlike Yersian and Smith, he believes the development is a good thing that will result in more affordable homes.

“There are so many properties at this moment that are overpriced. A first-time buyer can’t even think about buying a property right now,” said Narwal. “It is such a good location so why not build here?”

Residents skeptical about community input

Informational meetings about the Cambie program have taken place, but the most recent was last April.

Smith feels that people are powerless to stop the city from development.

“We went to all the meetings when they were building the Y. We didn’t want it. They were building the college, we didn’t want it,” said Smith. “No matter what we say, they already have everything planned and they go ahead and do it.”

Michelle Yu did not answer requests for comment.

Reported by Jeremy Sally

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