Mar­pole plan aims to up fam­ily-friendly units

The Georgia Straight - - Urban Living -

> BY GAIL JOHN­SON

With the City of Van­cou­ver hav­ing just un­veiled tem­po­rary mod­u­lar hous­ing in South Van­cou­ver, Mar­pole con­tin­ues to make head­lines. The neigh­bour­hood has been in the spot­light for sev­eral months now, ever since the project was an­nounced and drew protests from some lo­cal res­i­dents.

One of the city’s old­est bor­oughs, Mar­pole might still be per­ceived as an area with sin­gle-fam­ily homes on large lots with man­i­cured lawns. But as the new project to bring some of the city’s most vul­ner­a­ble res­i­dents in­doors shows, the river­front com­mu­nity around the foot of Granville, Oak, and Cam­bie streets is evolv­ing.

Im­prov­ing the avail­abil­ity of so­cial and sup­port­ive hous­ing for those in need was just one of the pri­or­i­ties the city out­lined in its 2014 Mar­pole Com­mu­nity Plan. So was boost­ing af­ford­able hous­ing for fam­i­lies with chil­dren.

The term af­ford­able is rel­a­tive, of course; with Van­cou­ver’s realestate mar­ket be­ing one of the most ex­pen­sive on the en­tire planet, it’s next to im­pos­si­ble for peo­ple just start­ing out in their ca­reers or who want to have a fam­ily to buy a de­tached home. As a re­sult, more are turn­ing to con­do­mini­ums and town­homes in neigh­bour­hoods be­yond those within walk­ing dis­tance of the city cen­tre.

Ac­cord­ing to the Real Es­tate Board of Greater Van­cou­ver, town­house and condo sales this year were above the 10-year Jan­uary av­er­age in its ju­ris­dic­tion by 14.3 and 31.6 per­cent, re­spec­tively, while de­tached homes fell 24.8 per­cent be­low it.

“Mar­pole is chang­ing a lot,” says Yosh Kasa­hara, di­rec­tor of sales and mar­ket­ing for Alabaster Homes, which has four cur­rent de­vel­op­ments in the area. “It’s Van­cou­ver’s next pres­ti­gious neigh­bour­hood. There’s pres­tige around Ker­ris­dale and Shaugh­nessy, but what’s hap­pen­ing with de­vel­op­ment in the city is that it’s mov­ing south.

“When you look at other ar­eas— down­town or ar­eas like Kit­si­lano— peo­ple find them­selves priced out of the mar­ket,” he says. “Mar­pole still has op­por­tu­ni­ties for fam­i­lies to pur­chase, and there are a lot of great things hap­pen­ing here.”

Higher den­si­ties and a mix of uses close to tran­sit, notably the Canada Line, are in­evitable in Mar­pole, which is sit­u­ated on tra­di­tional Musqueam ter­ri­tory and is bounded by An­gus Drive, West 57th Av­enue, On­tario Street, and the Fraser River. The com­mu­nity is home to many young fam­i­lies: ac­cord­ing to the City of Van­cou­ver, 38 per­cent of all house­holds in Mar­pole had chil­dren, com­pared with 30 per­cent city­wide, in 2011; 68 per­cent of those fam­i­lies had chil­dren liv­ing at home in 2011, com­pared with 58 per­cent city­wide. Mar­pole is an­tic­i­pated to grow by about 12,500 res­i­dents, to about 36,500 peo­ple, within the next three decades. De­vel­op­ments are al­ready ap­pear­ing, from Alabaster’s spa­cious Shaugh­nessy Res­i­dences, which are near­ing com­ple­tion at 8123 Shaugh­nessy Street, to the planned town­homes at Tu­dor House by Formw­erks Bou­tique Prop­er­ties on West 63rd Av­enue, and Tria Homes’ forth­com­ing condo de­vel­op­ment called 8888 Osler.

The com­mu­nity plan re­quires that new multi-unit de­vel­op­ments (ex­cept for se­niors and sup­port­ive hous­ing) have two- and three-bed­room units for fam­i­lies as both mar­ket and so­cial hous­ing.

The area’s ameni­ties and well­re­garded schools are among the rea­sons it ap­peals to fam­i­lies.

Sir Win­ston Churchill Se­condary, for in­stance, is known for its In­ter­na­tional Bac­calau­re­ate and Frenchim­mer­sion pro­grams. The Mar­poleoakridge Com­mu­nity Cen­tre, which opened in 1949 as the city’s first, is in the process of be­ing re­built, with a stun­ning light-filled new de­sign by Patkau Ar­chi­tects. Mar­pole Oakridge Fam­ily Place, mean­while, pro­motes the health and well-be­ing of par­ents, care­givers, and kids. The nearby, mixed-use Marine Gateway on the Canada Line, with shops, restau­rants, and a movie theatre, is an­other draw.

Then there is the growth of the neigh­bour­hood’s di­verse food scene. Be­sides sev­eral sushi, pho, and noo­dle spots, the area is home to J Crepe (which shares a space with Yoshida Shoten and Ra­men Rai­jin Ex­press), Ipoh Beansprout Malaysian Café, Ap­plause Ja­panese Restau­rant, and many oth­ers.

The neigh­bour­hood has come a long way since the first per­ma­nent White Spot Restau­rant—then called the White Spot Bar­beque—opened in the sum­mer of 1928 at West 67th Av­enue and Granville Street. Be­fore it launched, owner Nat Bai­ley sold snack food to mo­torists off the back of his truck. The old eatery is gone, and now the ques­tion is whether Mar­pole can hang on to some of its char­ac­ter while chang­ing its face.

BAD DOG BREAD (1600 Mackay Road, North Van­cou­ver) is open Wed­nes­day to Satur­day from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sun­day from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.

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