Two open houses last week regarding the Oakridge Centre’s large-scale redevelopment attracted more than 1,400 visitors and 300 comment forms.
The proposal for the mixed-use development on the 28-acre site includes buildings of varying heights — the highest would be 45 storeys — commercial and office space, 2,818 residential units and public amenities such as a community centre and park space.
Henriquez Partners Architects and Stantec applied to the city Oct. 15 on behalf of Oakridge Centre owner Ivanhoe Cambridge and Westbank Development to amend the zoning for Oakridge Centre. Open houses were held at Oakridge Auditorium Nov. 15 and 17.
Matt Shillito, the City of Vancouver’s assistant director of planning, was at the Nov. 15 gathering.
“We had over 1,400 people, so that’s a big turnout. I don’t know if it’s unique, but it’s a big turnout for sure. It’s on the upper end of the normal turnout for these kinds of events,” he said. “It’s a large project and one of strategic significance on a site that a lot of people around the city are familiar with.”
Staff hasn’t been through comment forms yet, but Shillito’s impression of people he spoke to Thursday was that they thought the site would benefit from redevelopment.
“Therefore, there was quite a constructive tone, I felt, with people seeing various elements in the proposal that they like, especially the park space and the civic centre. If people had concerns, they were mainly around things like the heights of the tallest buildings, most notably the one 45-storey tower,” he said.
City staff will now focus on technical work such as looking at traffic movement and transit capacity in the area.
Gregory Henriquez, managing partner at Henriquez Partners Architects, told the Courier previously the Canada Line is underutilized, citing ridership statistics of about 126,000 trips per day, a figure that peaked at 200,000 during the Olympics. The Canada Line’s capacity with its present complement of trains is 300,000, he said.
Shillito agreed there is available capacity on the line and there is the possibility of increasing capacity by scheduling trains more frequently or adding cars and lengthening platforms to accommodate longer trains.
“So there are a couple of things that could be done to add capacity to the line. Of course, there are costs associated with these things,” he said. “I’m not a transit planning specialist, but it’s obviously at the peak times the capacity is under the most strain and that’s part of what you have to look at in terms of adding capacity, but you have to plan for the whole 24 hours a day, not just for rush hour.”
Several projects are either planned or under construction along the Canada Line, he added, so city staff are consulting with TransLink.
In coming weeks, staff will examine open house feedback and work on the technical analysis. The project goes to the urban design panel Dec. 5.
“We’re going to go in two stages to the urban design panel — the first stage will be kind of an information briefing session with them, and the second stage will be a voting session. That will be an occasion later next year,” Shillito said.
City staff are planning to hold a public workshop to examine the project in more detail in the New Year. In the New Year staff will also provide council with an interim report on the Oakridge re-development proposal.