Residents demand input on future of Vancouver’s Fraser corridor

Anna Dimoff · CBC News · 

More than 130 people turned up on a rainy night on Tuesday to talk about the future of Vancouver’s Fraser Street between Kingsway and 41st Avenue.

The meeting was held to discuss new development proposals in the area. The neighbourhood is the latest in Vancouver to undergo rapid development, which has sparked concerns about affordability, density changes and the future of small businesses along Fraser Street.

Some residents, like Aideen Clery, say they don’t feel included in the process. Clery said she wants more input with city officials.

“That’s what I would hope, that we would get together as a group working with the city planners and mindfully consider the services, businesses, amenities and housing that is going to go into our neighbourhood,” Clery said.

“People really want to know what’s going on.”

New buildings = higher rent

Clery has seen big changes to the Fraser corridor in the past few years and remembers having to get in her car to find a “decent cup of coffee.”

But she wants the city to be conscious of residents’ input as the neighbourhood gains attention and grows.

“I’m really interested in living in a neighbourhood that’s diverse, that’s catering to families, seniors, newcomers … that’s the kind of neighbourhood I want to live in.”

Don Davies, NDP MP for Vancouver–Kingsway, told The Early Edition’s Stephen Quinn that it’s important to keep the area affordable — for housing needs but also for small businesses.

Fraser Street, like Victoria Drive and the Hastings-Sunrise area in East Vancouver, is populated by older buildings that provide small businesses with affordable rent. But newer residential buildings with ground-level retail spaces often charge rents that are far higher than many small retailers can afford.

“People have told me that they want to make sure those small businesses that form the core of Fraser corridor now have a place post-development as well,” Davies said.

Comprehensive plan sought

Long-time resident Ben Mortensen attended the meeting Tuesday and said he’d like to see a more comprehensive plan for changes to the area.

He said public engagement on development has been “piecemeal” and hasn’t focused on the neighbourhood as a whole, which is critical to maintaining a sense of community.

“We’re OK to have development but we want it to be built in a way that enables spaces to be built to accommodate people, like, you know, have a community centre, have a library, integrate those spaces.”

With files from The Early Edition and Eva Uguen-Csenge
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