The owner of Vancouver’s Oakridge Mall is proposing a major expansion of the 56-year-old shopping centre that would transform the 11.5-hectare site into more of a community.

Ivanhoe Cambridge Inc. wants to build a broad range housing ranging from luxury to affordable, as well as more office and retail space, parks, bikeways, walking paths and a library, Senior Development Director Gordon Wylie said Monday.

Wylie said most of the development would occur on what are currently the mall’s massive parking lots.

"We'll be building new parking underground and then on the surface area will become retail and residential areas."

The city approved a similar plan in 2007, but since then, policies have opened up and Oakridge wants to take advantage with a new concept that goes beyond a modest expansion.

A report done by Vancouver city hall staff recommends to councillors that they let the project proceed to public consultation.

But some area residents have concerns.

"They mention affordable housing there. We don't know what affordable housing really means any longer," said Allan Buium, of the Riley Park-South Cambie Community Committee.   "If they're going to have rentals, how many rentals are they going to have at a reasonable price? Because we know what real estate is like in the Oakridge area. It's astronomical."

Canada Line concerns

Built in the late 1950s, Oakridge was Vancouver's first "drive-to" shopping centre and for most of its life, the majority of patrons have arrived by car.

Since the Canada Line was built, the proportion of non-car traffic to Oakridge has gone from nine per cent to 25 per cent.

Buium also has concerns about the rapid transit system, which is running close to capacity already.

"We're talking thousands of people ... more people coming to Oakridge. I'm not saying the Canada Line is bad. It was short-sighted in how it was constructed," said Buium.

Some other residents, like Braydon Wong, say the idea of something other than a traditional mall isn't so bad.

"Housing in Vancouver is always going to be an issue, so they have to build somewhere, so I guess if they build it here, so be it," Wong said.

 

With files from the CBC's Belle Puri