Oakridge in South Vancouver
In the 2001 Census, the Oakridge multicultural neighborhood of the City of Vancouver in the Canadian Province of British Columbia had a population of 11,795, 50 percent of whom spoke Chinese as their first language. Oakridge is a geographic rectangle with Granville Street on the west border and Main Street on the east, West 41st Avenue marking the northern neighborhood border and West 57th Avenue the southern. Oak Street and Cambie Street, both busy roads, are also Oakridge north-south thoroughfares with lots of rush-hour traffic.
Until after the Second World War, Oakridge remained mostly in its natural, undeveloped, unimproved state except for the Langara Golf Course, which opened in 1926. Then development expanded into the wooded areas as the city’s Jewish community moved south along Oak Street, and the Canadian Pacific Railway opened its lands to development in the 1950s of single-family homes and the Oakridge Centre Mall, Vancouver’s first shopping centre, in 1959 at West 41st Avenue and Cambie Street as a business centre for the residential boom of bungalow homes. In later years larger low- and high-rise multifamily residences replaced many of these small homes.
Langara College, a campus of 21,000 students on the north fringe of the golf course off West 49th Avenue between Cambie and Main, commenced operations in 1994. These three developments, the golf course, the shopping mall, and the campus, are the foremost community features of Oakridge today enhanced by completion in August 2009 of the SkyTrain Canada Line along Cambie Street with stations at 41st and 49th avenues.
Oakridge Centre Redevelopment
In March 2014, the Vancouver City Council approved a massive redevelopment plan for the Oakridge Centre Mall following a week of public hearings. The plan is for new affordable housing, new childcare spaces, a new community centre and library, a new seniors centre, and significant new park space, says the mayor. A joint venture of the mall ownership and developer Westbank Projects Corporation applied for rezoning for the redevelopment project. The developer expressed satisfaction with the council vote and rejected suggestions that there had been insufficient public consultation on the proposal.
Many residents support revitalization of the mall and Cambie Street, but many others say the new residential and business towers, one of 45 stories, are too much for the neighbourhood and will bring excessive density and aggravated traffic conditions despite the recent arrival of the SkyTrain, which plan opponents argue is already overcrowded.
The vertical redevelopment plan for Oakridge exemplifies how Canadian retail shopping malls these days must expand upwardly if at all, according to an August 2012 Toronto Globe and Mail newspaper article reporting that in Vancouver “the last regional malls were built in 1979” and that “Only two enclosed malls have been built in Canada since 1989.” There, development of new malls much more difficult than it is in the USA because of the lack of available land, the restrictions that Canadian cities impose on commercial space, and the demands of provincial highway ministries, and mall developers must be “creative and persistent” for their ambitions to succeed.