With the exception of the hastily built Olympic Village on False Creek, surely no Vancouver neighbourhood has seen as much change over the past decade as South Cambie.
The completion in 2009 of the $2-billion Canada Line dramatically transformed the slender neighbourhood, which stretches from West 16th to West 41st avenues and just a few blocks between Oak and Cambie streets.
The project forced some Cambie Street businesses to either move or close down for good after the builders controversially opted to use a cut and cover method to install the underground line instead of boring a tunnel as originally proposed. As a result, stretches of the once-busy street were turned into construction zones for months at a time, but the city’s smallest neighbourhood has since bounced back in a big way, particularly the bustling stretch known as Cambie Village, which is generally considered to be the area north of King Edward Boulevard to West 16th Avenue (although the Cambie Village Business Association include everything north to the Cambie Bridge.)
Featuring a variety of ethnic eateries, funky watering holes and unique retail stores, the strip seems poised to become the downtown hub it was intended as back in 1929 when the three separate municipalities of Point Grey, Vancouver and South Vancouver merged together, and 12th and Cambie was chosen as the spot for a new city hall.
With two new SkyTrain stations (King Edward and Oakridge), as well as a third being considered near 33rd Avenue, increased densification seems inevitable. Construction is already underway for a five-storey complex at West 33rd and a new 73-unit Ronald McDonald House. A far more impactful project also looms on the horizon with a proposed 45-storey condo tower at Oakridge Mall.
South Cambie is named after Henry Cambie, a key figure in building the B.C. portion of the transcontinental railway, so it seems somehow fitting that yet another rail line is on track to forever change the area.