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Angry residents prepare for Oakridge Centre fight

One week before city council considers a massive redevelopment at Oakridge Centre, over 40 Marpole and Oakridge residents gathered Monday night to prepare their battle plan. Oakridge Langara Area Residents (OLAR) organized the meeting.

One week before city council considers a massive redevelopment at Oakridge Centre, over 40 Marpole and Oakridge residents gathered Monday night to prepare their battle plan.

Oakridge Langara Area Residents (OLAR) organized the meeting. Participants packed into the Oakridge public library’s meeting room to discuss their plan of action for the upcoming public hearing, which included gaining more time and further public consultation for the Oakridge Centre project.

“As you all know, we are in a bit of crisis situation in this neighbourhood,” said OLAR member Tracey Moir. After distributing flyers to everyone, she explained that while the Oakridge proposal kept changing it was the biggest they had ever seen.

The updated plan, which includes 14 new buildings between nine and 44 storeys in height, will face city council at a public hearing March 10. Moir held the meeting to get as many people involved in the process between now and then.

“If you are going to do only one thing, speak. Speak to city council,” Moir said to the crowd.

Daunting tower heights were among the concerns voiced at the meeting, but smaller details of the plan were also under scrutiny, with one in particular hitting home for most.

“There is a 30-year legal obligation for the developer to give us a park,” Moir said. “At that time it was 10 per cent of the area, which is 2.8 acres.”

The participants agreed that the proposed rooftop green space shouldn’t be considered a park, as it’s surrounded by tall towers. Moir also said the plan didn’t include the additional public amenities, especially schools, needed to support a local population increase. In a review put out by the Vancouver School Board last year, both the primary and secondary schools in the area are at 90 per cent capacity or higher.

The public consultation process used in the past left residents feeling unheard, according to meeting participants. Jillian Skeet urged her neighbours to request more “meaningful” public consultation.

“I’m from Marine Gardens, which is going to be demolished, and for five to six years I have been to so many public consultations and at every one of them the vast majority of people were opposed to what they were doing,” Skeet said. “The city holds a lot of meetings, more than I have ever seen. But they are just more opportunities for people to come out and not be heard.”

The growing number of speakers signed up to talk next week at council hope their voices will be heard.

“The only way we are going to make a dent in all of this a week from tonight is to show up en masse, whether you come in spirit or whether you sign up to speak,” said resident Andrew Waldichuk.

Oakridge resident Chris Shelton thought that if they can’t change the Oakridge proposal, further residential development in Vancouver is inevitable.

“We should stress to the public that if the City of Vancouver goes ahead with heights at this location, that every other neighbourhood, including Grandview-Woodland, would automatically become highrises as well,” said Shelton.

Moir said 65 people have signed up to speak next Monday, with further additions to come. Participants at the meeting voted unanimously to have Moir represent OLAR.

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