Yesterday’s Plan For Today- Cambie Phase 3 Splits Community and City Duo Opinion

Almost 10 years after it began, the last phase of the Cambie Corridor plan is finally being presented to the public before it heads to city council. Hannah and I went down on Thursday to check out the plan and reception from the neighbourhood. The event was held in a really strange place; a former Men’s Skin Care office that offered mani-pedis, waxing, and body massage. Having seen no renovations, the unit was still divided into a small lobby,with one corridor leading to a series of small clinic rooms. This might not have been so bad, except that around 300 people (as well as a cameraman from Omni) were forced to squeeze themselves into this limited space. Maybe it was a great location after all, since it provides a perfect metaphor for this area plan.

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As anyone who regularly takes the Canada Line knows, the demand clearly exceeded expectations. Simply put, those who funded and planned for this line underestimated its potential. It’s a shame that the area plan sees that mistake repeated. It’s very odd that the plan adds sees more density in the southern neighbourhoods, and only single family or townhomes in the north. It gives the false impression that Downtown Vancouver is at the south end of the corridor rather than the north. That said, there are bright spots in the plan, such as the Oakridge MTC, Langara Gardens, Pearson Dogwood, and the Marine Drive Gateway. Planners should also be commended for being responsible by ensuring that the growth they have proposed will come with space for current and future residents to play and learn. After all, having been to the Marpole Community Centre recently, there’s no question that it’s in serious need of an upgrade. Still, it’s clear that the Cambie Area plan was one started with the best intentions, but that ultimately took too long to deliver. As a result it answers yesterdays problems today, rather than a plan for future that would see reasonable, responsible, or even the needed growth along the Canada Line.

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However, Hannah has a slightly different view than I do. While she agrees it took too long for the understaffed planning department to deliver this plan, she feels that the city is walking a tricky balancing act. While it’s clear to her that the amount of housing provided by the King Edward Station is ridiculously low, she understands why the city staff were forced into that position. Simply put, when the only people that turn out are those against growth in their neighbourhood, politicians get scared, which limits how planners can respond. As this information session saw many people visibly angry over the changes in their neighbourhood, she understands that staff’s need to find a middle ground between the changes they know need to take place, and placating the anger of those were resistant to the change in the area.

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Frankly, the worst part is that it’s almost too late to chime in about this area plan. While plenty of people are commenting, evidenced by the event running out of surveys and even pens, the area plan is essentially complete. While comments probably won’t result in changes to the Cambie Corridor Plan, it will show those starting to campaign for election that the majority of Vancouver wants more responsible and reasonable growth– Our city needs homes, places to work, and when people have time, a space to unwind.

You can learn more about the plan, and (before March 28)  have your comment heard.

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