On March 14th, following a week of hearings which included submissions from 138 registered speakers, Vision Vancouver councillors voted to approve the massive Oakridge Centre Mall redevelopment proposal, chosing to ignore widespread community opposition, the 2007 Oakridge Centre Policy Statement, and the glaring absence of plans to handle needs generated by the 2900 new residential units for increases to transit, health care, schools, parks and other crucial amenities.
Green Party of Vancouver City Councilor Adriane Carr voted against this ill-conceived proposal, and shares her reasons why below:
1. People who live in the neighbourhood don't want it. It's too big, too tall.
2. There is no policy that justifies this much density at Oakridge. The key reference document that should guide Council's decision is the 2007 Oakridge Policy statement, which calls for two nodes of taller buildings with only one tower in each node of 20 storeys. The policy says that up to 24 storeys may be acceptable with certain conditions. Contrast that with the 11 towers of up to 44 storeys contained in the Oakridge proposal.
3. Other policy documents link density with transit. No specific density is ever mentioned, but one has to assume that the density should match the transit capacity.
4. The Canada Line is already at capacity at rush hour. Busses at capacity on 41st Avenue pass by people waiting.
5. It's not good enough to say that the Canada Line and busses are Translink's responsibility, and that schools and hospitals are Provincial Responsibility.
6. The decision to add 5,000 more residents and 5,000 workers plus many thousands of visitors to one site is like approving a new small town. It's Council's responsibility to ensure the needed services and infrastructure are in place. We need firm commitments, not wish lists, for another Canada Line entrance and a longer station at Oakridge, more busses, more schools, more health care, police and fire services.
It is irresponsible to approve so much density without a guarantee of the needed essential public services and infrastructure.
7. Regarding the "rooftop park". I agree with the speakers who said a rooftop space is not a park. If kids can't play ball it's not a park. If seniors won't go there for fear of elevators that can't be used during certain emergencies, it's not a park. This rooftop is planned as a green space, which is valuable, and what it has been called throughout the planning process. We should not change the name at the last minute and enable developers to get out of a 30-year-old obligation to provide an on-the-ground 2.83 acre park.
It sets a terrible precedent. I am worried that every developer when asked to deliver park and green space as public amenity will say "I'll build the biggest tower I can and put the park on the roof."
8. This proposal is not ready to be voted on. Dropping in a rooftop park at the last minute, not presenting cumulative impact studies and needs assessments, is not good enough. We have not offered assurances to citizens that they won't have more overcrowded hospitals and schools, busses passing them by, increased stresses on fire and police services, more congested roads and decreased quality of life.
9. For these reasons, I vote no.