This was the first of many public consultations to come on the future redevelopment of the Jericho Lands in Vancouver’s Point Grey neighbourhood.
Hundreds of area residents attended Saturday’s open house, which, as expected, did not provide a first glimpse of possible forms of the redevelopment but offered locals the opportunity to voice their concerns and desires for the future of the sprawling, largely undeveloped, 90-acre property.
The open house also marked the official public launch of the Jericho Lands Planning Program, and if a master plan is approved it will guide the rezoning that allows the redevelopment.
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The site is framed by West 4th Avenue to the north, Highbury Street to the east, West 8th Avenue to the south, and Trimble Park and Queen Mary Elementary School to the west.
The Department of National Defence owned the eastern lands, the site of Jericho Garrison until 2014, while the western lands were owned by the provincial government until 2016. Portions of the western lands are leased to West Point Grey Academy and the Vancouver Park Board.
Both the federal and provincial governments sold these properties to a joint venture entailing three local First Nations and federal crown corporation Canada Lands Company for a staggering $717 million for the amalgamated site’s redevelopment potential.
During the open house, residents expressed the usual redevelopment open house concerns, such as building new housing that is affordable for multi-income levels, addressing traffic impact and local school capacity, and the level of amenities and recreational facilities required.
This will be the largest redevelopment in the Vancouver Westside, in an area that has traditionally been highly apprehensive to change. The significance of this project should not be underestimated as it could certainly set a new precedent for development in the neighbourhood, and perhaps even influence the future routing decision for the eventual extension of SkyTrain to UBC.
Several comments written on large posters stated the need for an on-site SkyTrain station to serve the dense redevelopment. The current question over whether a station can be included for the property is a major determinant for the subway’s routing west of Alma Street.
In January, Mayor Kennedy Stewart stated the First Nations property owners have expressed the desire of having SkyTrain serve their property directly and even suggested offering the land required to build a station on the site.
But at least one other person wanted to see the station located further west on West 10th Avenue in the area of Sasamat Street instead to help revitalize the Point Grey Village retail district.
As a matter of fact, a surprising number of people noted their concern for the future of the businesses in Point Grey Village, which was once the preeminent retail and dining hub for UBC students — before the completion in recent years of new major on-campus options. Several individuals saw Jericho Lands as an opportunity for revitalizing the neighbouring retail village.
“I’ve seen the area (Point Grey Village) fall deeper and deeper into looking like a ghost town… and I think it is obvious that we need new big solutions that have never been thought of before,” Steven Aston, a longtime resident in West Point Grey, told Daily Hive at the open house.
“If we can bring more people from the new residences to shop at Point Grey Village, I’m all for it, and I think that’ll bring in new businesses too. We’ve seen far too many close… Dentry’s Irish Grill closed five or six weeks ago, it was there for the longest time I can remember.”
Other unique concerns and ideas brought forward in this early-stage public consultation included daylighting major buried streams that cross through the site, protecting views by building low-rise buildings and using the site’s sloping topography as an advantage for development, and providing space for a replacement school facility for West Point Grey Academy.
While more details on the project proponents’ vision for the redevelopment will not begin to unravel until later this year, the proposed densities that can be expected will likely be a combination of mid-rise and low-rise buildings — a hybrid between the Olympic Village and the future Heather Lands redevelopment, which is another CLC and First Nations-owned joint partnership.
There will likely be thousands of residential units, enough to house a population in excess of 10,000 people.
A community-serving retail village can also be expected on the property’s northeast corner, effectively extending West 4th Avenue’s retail strip westwards.
Project proponents and municipal government planners are expected to formally begin site concepts development later this fall, and a preferred site concept could be selected this winter.
By spring 2020, the preferred concept will be refined and a master plan policy statement for redevelopment will be drafted. City council could consider the policy statement by summer of the next year.
According to city statistics, West Point Grey’s population only grew by 1.4% between 1996 and 2016 — from 12,885 to 13,065 residents — while Vancouver as a whole saw a population growth of 22.9%.
The neighbourhood is, of course, predominantly single-family housing, with detached homes accounting for 40.4% of all dwelling types. This is followed by detached duplexes (25.9%), apartments under five storeys (23.4%), apartments of five or more storeys (8%), row houses (1.2%), and semi-detached houses (1%).