Marpole Oakridge Community Centre to move?

Firehall preserved for new community services

The location for a new Marpole Oakridge Community Centre remains a hotly disputed topic, and will likely remain so for the rest of this year.

The Marpole-Oakridge Community Association has called a public meeting on several local planning topics at the centre at 990 West 59th Avenue at Oak Street for 6:30 p.m. on May 25th. City planning staff are expected to attend.

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“The Marpole Oakridge Community Centre will be demolished,” association president Mike Burdick wrote in an email notice to members. “The City of Vancouver is planning to build the replacement community centre in a high-density high-traffic location on Granville Street instead of at its current location in Oak Park.”  

But Susan Haid, the city’s assistant director of planning for Vancouver South, told the Courier that the statement is “incorrect,” because the city has made no such decision yet. The Marpole Community Plan approved by city council last year called for a replacement and renewal of the community centre, but did not mention a location.

“We don’t have a preconceived plan at all,” she said. “We will go through a very robust planning and consultation process with the community about the location, led by our parks commission, which will likely start later this year.”

Burdick remains unconvinced, saying that “in our discussions with city staff, they said they really want to relocate to where the Marpole library is, and they also have property on Granville Street, so the inference is always there.” He attached a 34-page presentation to his email to argue why the centre should stay put.

The two main items on the May 25 meeting agenda are Marpole traffic and transit issues, and the Cambie Corridor Phase 3, which may rezone some houses just west of Cambie Street between 59th and 68th Avenues. Burdick wants the meeting to focus on those items and leave discussions of the community centre for the later public consultations, although he added that city staff can talk about the centre at the meeting if they wish.

In a civic electoral debate last October attended by 200 people at the centre, most people booed when candidates raised the prospect of moving the centre, and applauded at the proposal of keeping it at its current location.

In other Marpole news, Haid foresees a bright future for the former Marpole firehall at Hudson Street and West 70th Ave., which has been closed for repairs since a flood in 2013. Because the firehall is on the city’s protected heritage list, as noted in the Marpole Plan, no demolition is planned.

“Our city facilities group will be looking at community uses in the facility once its renovation is completed, we expect by end of 2015,” Haid said.  

Meanwhile, on plans for a 10-acre park at the foot of Cambie Street at the Fraser River, she said the city is negotiating for the land through its real estate branch.

“We hope to have an update on that soon. It’s in the Marpole Plan, we have secured funding to get a site, and it’s a huge priority of council and the city manager,” she said.

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