Marpole plan aims to up family-friendly units
> 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.