Marpole in South Vancouver
Down by the River and the Airport
Marpole is a mostly residential neighbourhood of 23,832 inhabitants reported in the 2011 Census on the southern edge of the City of Vancouver, British Columbia, northeast of Vancouver International Airport on Sea Island across the Fraser River. Approximate borders are Angus Drive on the west, 57th Avenue on the north, Ontario Street on the east and the river on the south. Immigration has been an important demographic in this neighbourhood. In 2006, 42 percent of Marpole residents were ethnically Chinese, 37 percent spoke Chinese as their native language, and 59 percent were foreign born. Marpole has a lower median household income and a higher share of low- income residents than Vancouver overall. Within Marpole, 32 per cent of renters spend more than a third of their income on housing. Most of the 4,000 units of relatively affordable rental housing date from before 1975.
Richard Marpole, for whom in 1916 residents of the small town of Eburne Station on the river renamed it in his honor, was General Superintendent of the Canadian Pacific Railway Pacific Division in Vancouver in the early 1900s. The coming of the Canadian Pacific to Vancouver triggered development of sawmills, shingle mills, and gravel companies in the region. By 1929, when it became part of the City of Vancouver, Marpole was a industrial centre. Construction over the river in 1957 of the Oak Street Bridge to Richmond, Delta, Surrey, and the USA border and in 1975 of the Arthur Laing Bridge to the airport has catalyzed many changes and intensified traffic and development.
Most Marpole trade stores and services are toward the southern end of Granville Street. Small corner shops cluster around Oak Street and 67th Avenue and Cambie Street and 57th Avenue. Some big box stores, manufacturers, and distributors are on Marine Drive east of the Arthur Laing Bridge; some heavy industry operates along the bank of the river.
Another large Marpole commercial district will be in the eastern part of the neighbourhood around Marine Drive and Cambie Street. The City of Vancouver has designated this area as the Marine Landing Precinct and approved for construction two residential high-rise towers, an office tower, 11 movie theatres, and a major grocery store.
New Community Plan for Marpole Future
In April 2014, Vancouver’s City Council unanimously approved a new Marpole community plan following a public hearing with most attending residents in favor. The new plan revamped last year’s proposal, which stalled over complaints that the city pushed for unnecessary and excessive density. City planners had proposed to rezone a large area of single-family residences dwellings for multifamily housing. The new, approved plan leaves 85 percent of present single-family areas unchanged. Most growth will be near major streets and transit stops with new townhomes in some single-family areas. The plan has four main themes: (1) encourage growth but respect neighbourhood character, (2) keep housing affordable, (3) improve transportation, and (4) add and enhance community amenities.
According to plan specifics, by 2041 there would be 835 new market rental units, 6,800 new market homes, upgrades to five parks, three new parks with a 10-acre sanctuary along the river, upgrades to the library and community centre, and 478 new child care spaces. So proceeds life in Marpole as the government attempts to moderate the forces of the market economy.