Published in 24 Hours Vancouver | August 18, 2013 | Circulation: 251,700
Two months after the City of Vancouver backed down from a “thin streets” proposal to densify Marpole, hundreds of residents rallied in a community hall Sunday against the city’s planning process.
Organizers said that at least 1,500 households in the south Vancouver area snapped up “Stop Marpole Rezoning” lawn signs and signed a petition.
“The city planners just don’t want to listen to us,” said resident Jesse Johl. “This community will not be the same after they rezone it.”
Although a Vision Vancouver councillor could not be reached by press time, the city’s website states that the aim of the planning process is to consider “long-range and short-term goals” for Vancouver’s neighbourhoods – a “clear but flexible framework for guiding positive change and public benefit.”
The city held three public events in June, and is now reviewing its deadline to release its plan for Marpole’s next 30 years.
“Because demand for new development is growing, city staff are working on a community plan, to ensure that future growth in Marpole meets the needs of the community,” the Marpole Community Plan website states. “This plan, which will be developed with input from everyone in the community — residents, business owners, experts, advocates, and other stakeholders — will help guide growth and development throughout the neighbourhood in the coming years.”
But critics worry the process is guided more by developer, not community, needs.
“Highrise Robertson and Vision Vancouver seem to be at war with every community in the city,” Johl claimed. “Marpole is just the latest. They are developing at breakneck speed with little consultation.
“This community is absolutely, adamantly opposed. These guys are just not getting the message. It’s literally a battle … an attack against single-family residents. We want to make the rest of Vancouver aware that you can fight back – and we are fighting back.”
Marpole resident Paul Chin expressed concern over increased traffic, strain on infrastructure like schools, and potential for higher taxes.
“This community will not be the same after they rezone it,” he told 24 Hours. “They’re trying to rezone 40 to 50% of single family homes in Marpole. I’m one of them.
“They keep saying they have consultations, but they don’t really. The city planners just don’t want to listen to us … How will it increase affordability to rezone half our community? It’s a drastic move.”
Non-Partisan Association City Councillor George Affleck was the only politician to attend Sunday’s rally.
“Clearly the neighbours are not happy,” he said. “They really looked at the plan and said, ‘This isn’t what we want.’ It’s important for us to hear that … We’re seeing this in every corner of the city.”